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Feminism and Womens


Rights Worldwide

Recent Titles in
Womens Psychology
Intimate Violence against Women: When Spouses, Partners, or Lovers Attack
Paula K. Lundberg-Love and Shelly L. Marmion, editors
Daughters of Madness: Growing Up and Older with a Mentally Ill Mother
Susan Nathiel
Psychology of Women: Handbook of Issues and Theories, Second Edition
Florence L. Denmark and Michele Paludi, editors
WomanSoul: The Inner Life of Womens Spirituality
Carole A. Rayburn and Lillian Comas-Diaz, editors
The Psychology of Women at Work: Challenges and Solutions for Our Female
Workforce
Michele A. Paludi, editor

Feminism and Womens


Rights Worldwide
Volume 1
Heritage, Roles, and Issues

MICHELE A. PALUDI, EDITOR


Praeger Perspectives
Womens Psychology
Michele A. Paludi, Series Editor

PRAEGER
An Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC

Copyright 2010 by Michele A. Paludi


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any
means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,
except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review, without prior
permission in writing from the publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Feminism and womens rights worldwide / Michele A. Paludi, editor.
v. ; cm. (Womens psychology)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Contents: The myth of the man-hating feminist / Melinda Kanner and
Kristin J. Anderson Gender differences : the arguments regarding abilities /
Jennifer L. Martin Women in education : students and professors worldwide
/ Susan Basow In womens voices / Samantha Smith Working life as a
house : a tale of oors, walls, and ceilings / Leanne Faraday-Brash Women
as religious leaders : advances and stalemates / J. Harold Ellens The
feminine political persona : Queen Victoria, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Michelle
Bachelet / Emily A. Haddad and William Schweinle Women in the military : is
it time to un-gender combat roles? / Breena E. Coates Sexual minority
women : sources and outcomes of stigmatization / Rhonda M. Schultz, and
Kristin P. Beals Special issues for women with disabilities / Martha E.
Banks Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating : the globalization of
western appearance ideals / Jaehee Jung and Gordon B. Forbes Sexual
violence to girls and women in schools around the world / Susan Strauss.
ISBN 978-0-313-37596-5 (set : hard copy : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-31337597-2 (set : ebook) ISBN 978-0-313-37598-9 (v.1 : hard copy : alk. paper)
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1. Feminism. 2. Womens rights. 3. Sexual harassment of women. 4. Abused
womenPsychology. 5. WomenPsychology. I. Paludi, Michele Antoinette
HQ1180.F424 2010
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2009035343
ISBN: 978-0-313-37596-5
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Visit www.abc-clio.com for details.
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An Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC
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This book is printed on acid-free paper
Manufactured in the United States of America

For Rosa and Lucia, my maternal and paternal grandmothers


and for Antoinette, my mother:
Remember, our heritage is our power; we can know ourselves and
our capacities by seeing that other women have been strong.
Judy Chicago

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Contents

Series Introduction

ix

Acknowledgments

xi

Introduction
Michele A. Paludi
Chapter 1: The Myth of the Man-Hating Feminist
Melinda Kanner and Kristin J. Anderson

xiii
1

Chapter 2: Gender Differences: The Arguments Regarding Abilities


Jennifer L. Martin

27

Chapter 3: Women in Education: Students and Professors


Worldwide
Susan Basow

43

Chapter 4: In Womens Voices


Samantha Smith

63

Chapter 5: Working Life as a House: A Tale of Floors, Walls, and


Ceilings
Leanne Faraday-Brash

65

Chapter 6: Women as Religious Leaders: Advances and Stalemates


J. Harold Ellens

85

Chapter 7: The Feminine Political Persona: Queen Victoria, Ellen


Johnson Sirleaf, and Michelle Bachelet
Emily A. Haddad and William Schweinle

97

Chapter 8: Women in the Military: Is It Time to Un-Gender Combat


Roles?
Breena E. Coates
111

viii

Contents

Chapter 9: Sexual Minority Women: Sources and Outcomes


of Stigmatization
Rhonda M. Schultz and Kristin P. Beals

125

Chapter 10: Special Issues for Women with Disabilities


Martha E. Banks

149

Chapter 11: Body Dissatisfaction and Disordered Eating: The


Globalization of Western Appearance Ideals
Jaehee Jung and Gordon B. Forbes

161

Chapter 12: Sexual Violence to Girls and Women in Schools


around the World
Susan Strauss

187

Womens Studies Programs in the United States


Michele A. Paludi

233

Appendix:

About the Editor and Contributors

249

Index

255

Series Introduction

Because womens work is never done and is underpaid or unpaid or boring


or repetitious and were the rst to get red and what we look like is more
important than what we do and if we get raped its our fault and if we get
beaten we must have provoked it and if we raise our voices were nagging
bitches and if we enjoy sex were nymphos and if we dont were frigid and
if we love women its because we cant get a real man and if we ask our
doctor too many questions were neurotic and/or pushy and if we expect
childcare were selsh and if we stand up for our rights were aggressive
and unfeminine and if we dont were typical weak females and if we
want to get married were out to trap a man and if we dont were unnatural and because we still cant get an adequate safe contraceptive but men
can walk on the moon and if we cant cope or dont want a pregnancy were
made to feel guilty about abortion and . . . for lots of other reasons we are
part of the womens liberation movement.
Author unknown, quoted in The Torch, September 14, 1987

These sentiments underlie the major goals of the Praeger Perspectives


book series, Womens Psychology. The goals are as follows:
Value women: The books in this series value women by valuing children and working for affordable child care; value women by respecting
all physiques, not just by placing value on slender women; value
women by acknowledging older womens wisdom, beauty, aging; value
women who have been sexually victimized and view them as survivors;
value women who work inside and outside of the home; and value
women by respecting their choices of careers, of whom they mentor, of
their reproductive rights, their spirituality, and their sexuality.
Treat women as the norm. Thus the books in this series make up for
womens issues typically being omitted, trivialized, or dismissed from
other books on psychology.

Series Introduction

Take a non-Eurocentric view of womens experiences. The books in this


series integrate the scholarship on race and ethnicity into womens psychology, thus providing a psychology of all women. Women typically
have been described collectively; but we are diverse.
Facilitate connections between readers experiences and psychological theories and empirical research. The books in this series offer readers opportunities to challenge their views about women, feminism, sexual
victimization, gender role socialization, education, and equal rights.
These texts thus encourage women readers to value themselves and
others. The accounts of womens experiences as reected through
research and personal stories in the texts in this series have been
included for readers to derive strength from the efforts of others who
have worked for social change on the interpersonal, organizational,
and societal levels. A student in one of my courses on the psychology
of women once stated:
I learned so much about women. Women face many issues: discrimination, sexism, prejudices . . . by society. Women need to work together to
change how society views us. I learned so much and talked about much
of the issues brought up in class to my friends and family. My attitudes
have changed toward a lot of things. I got to look at myself, my life, and
what I see for the future. (Paludi, 2002)

It is my hope that readers of the books in this series will also reect
on the topics and look at themselves, their own lives, and what they
see for the future. This three-volume book set on Feminism and Womens Rights Worldwide provides readers with the opportunity to accomplish this goal and offers suggestions for all of us working for
gender justice within our friendships and romantic relationships, in
guiding institutional and social policy change in workplace and educational institutions, and in lobbying state and federal legislators on
issues related to reproductive rights, pay equity, education, sexual violence, and childcare.
Michele A. Paludi
Series Editor
REFERENCE
Paludi, M. (2002). The psychology of women. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ:
Prentice Hall.

Acknowledgments

Teaching and writing are separate, but serve/feed one another in so many
ways. Writing travels the road inward, teaching, the road outhelping
OTHERS move inwardit is an honor to be with others in the spirit of
writing and encouragement.
Naomi Shihab Nye

Nyes sentiment is echoed throughout this three-volume set on feminism and womens rights. Most of the contributors have taught courses
in womens studies and feminism as well as conducted research and
written about feminist issues. Many contributors have been advocates
on behalf of feminist principles through working with local, state and
federal agencies, legislators, and the United Nations. And many of us
have collaborated with students in our classes in writing chapters for
this book set. These students have made us believe that all of them, in
their individual ways, will continue to do what this book set intends:
value feminism and work toward equality. It has been exhilarating for
me to see a new generation of feminists collaborating with mentors
and colleagues on the chapters for this book set.
I have been honored to have collaborated with the contributors to
these volumes. Several friendships with contributors have been
rekindled and strengthened, and I have met many new colleagues from
around the world who taught me about their disciplines through their
writing. You have all shown me the great accomplishments of feminists
as well as the work we have yet to do. Thank you.
I wish to thank my sisters, Rosalie Paludi and Lucille Paludi, for
their support during the preparation of this book set. I also thank Carmen Paludi, Jr. for his guidance and encouragement. Our discussions
about feminism brought back wonderful memories of my mother,

xii

Acknowledgments

Antoinette, and my father, Michael, about whom I continue to learn


and continue to cherish the time I had with them.
I acknowledge several friends who encouraged me during the preparation of this set of books. Thank you to Paula Lundberg Love, Jennifer Martin, Billie Wright Dziech, Darlene C. DeFour, and Florence
Denmark.
I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with students throughout my career, now at Union Graduate College. I have
thoroughly enjoyed learning from them. Thank you to students in the
Human Resource Management Certicate Program and Management
and Leadership Certicate Program. I especially acknowledge Michelle
Strand, Carrie Turco, Haimanot Kelbessa, Sarah Bennett, Sarah Boggess, Kristina Hicks, James Luciano, Sarah Henderson Maneely, Abbey
Massoud-Tastor, Marie Fuda, Jessica Wilmot, Katie Kelly, and Nick Salvatoriello. I am honored you have called me your professor.
I also thank Debbie Carvalko for supporting my visions for books
and helping them become realities. I have enjoyed working with Debbie and her colleagues at Praeger. They are a wonderful team of caring
people. They appreciate my love of writing and editing books. Debbie
somehow knew that, after the publication of the three-volume set on
the Psychology of Women and Work (2008, Praeger), which I edited, and
the political climate of the 2008 presidential campaign, especially
regarding women, I had to follow up those texts with books on feminism. She knows I share Sheila Benders sentiment:
We write because something inside says we must and we can no longer ignore
that voice.

Introduction
Michele A. Paludi
And how do you look backward? By looking forward. And what do you see?
As they look forward, they see what they had to do before they could look
backward. And there we have it all.
Gertrude Stein

Alyssa Zucker and Abigail Stewart (2007) reported in their study of


333 university alumnae that feminism is internalized quite differently
depending on the developmental stage in our lives. This research led
me to consider my own feminist socialization and feminist identity development as I began writing and editing these three volumes on feminism and womens rights. I was introduced to feminism by my
parents, Antoinette and Michael, at a very young age, even though the
label feminism was not used by them. Yet, as I came to realize much
later, their behavior was very much in keeping with feminist principles. They valued my sisters and me unconditionally; wanted to give
us educational opportunities that were denied to them because of the
generation into which they were born and because they were rst generation Americans whose parents had other values to instill in them;
they worked for equality in relationships, politics, and health care. I
was 18 the year individuals became eligible to vote at age 18, and both
my parents took me to cast my votes that year.
They believed that, like them, I had a responsibility to make things
better for the next generation. They valued voting; I was told what the
Suffragists had endured in order to win this right for us and to remember this each year I vote. I took my rst course in feminism as an
undergraduate in the early 1970s: Sex Roles in American Society
with Nancy Walbek. I would share the class discussions with my
mother, telling her about the experiences of students in class that were
different from my ownfor example, being denied the use of certain

xiv

Introduction

toys considered sex inappropriate for them; being tracked into different high school and college programs because of being women or men;
women being told by family and friends to hide their achievements
from potential dates and mates. I was unable to relate to these experiences and realized for the rst time that my parents were feminists, a
term to which I was introduced formally in this class and then subsequently as a graduate student when I took courses with Dee Graham
and Edna Rawlings. I also learned that I had been exposed to nonstereotyped role models, and because there were all girls in our family, we
were not raised to conform to stereotyped behavior.
It was in graduate school that I decided to pursue research in feminist psychology, especially in womens career development. I was fortunate to have a mentor, William Dember, who encouraged me to
pursue this research, even though it was not in his area of specialization (i.e., visual perception). Bill encouraged me to take courses with
faculty in departments in addition to psychology: educational leadership and family development. He told me this would help put pieces
together in understanding the research I was conducting. I thank Kathy
Borman and Judy Frankel for their roles in my feminist identity development.
A few years later when my father died, Charlie, who attended my
fathers wake, came to my mother, my sisters, and me and told us how
my father had impacted his life. Charlie, an African American man,
told us my father was the only coworker (both were skilled workers at
General Electric) who treated him fairly, didnt talk with him in a derogatory manner, and stopped others from making racial slurs and epithets. I learned for another time what it meant to be a feminist.
I dedicated the three-volume set on the Psychology of Women at Work
to my parents: For Antoinette and Michael Paludi, who encouraged
me to dene what womens work is for myself. They wanted all their
daughters to be independent thinkers and doers and to help others.
They gave us no templates to follow but encouraged us to navigate our
own paths. And, especially in my case, encouraged me to leave home
to attend graduate school in a city that seemed, to my parents, to be
very far awaybut they never said no.
My parents thus taught me that not only did they believe in the economic, educational, social, and political equality of women and men, but
they favored the social and legal changes necessary to achieve equality
between the sexes and among races, and they were committed to implementing these principles. Perhaps they could not effect change at the
national level, but they did do so in personal relationships with their
family and friends and on the local level. This is the legacy they left my
sisters and me. This book set is a tribute to Antoinette and Michael.
I have been reminded of Antoinette and Michael throughout the
writing and editing of these volumes on feminism and womens rights.

Introduction

xv

I am especially reminded of what my mother used to tell me: You are


there before you get there. She knew I wanted equality to happen fast
and that I grew concerned when feminists didnt win political elections, when younger women didnt know the heritage of how they
came to be accepted in graduate programs and in certain jobs, how the
glass ceiling for women and people of color is still strong, and that
worldwide, women constitute 64 percent of all adults who are illiterate
(see Susan Basows chapter in Volume 1). I have learned that she was
right; that change takes time, and to measure change differently, i.e., in
increments. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated as she suspended her campaign for president of the United States in 2008:
Although we werent able to shatter this highest, hardest glass ceiling
this time, thanks to you, its got about 18 million cracks in it, and the
light is shining through like never before.
The chapters in these volumes show us where the light is shining
through on feminism. All three volumes represent what Judith Lorber
(1998) and Snelling (1999) identied: several types of feminism and
feminists. Lorber (1998) categorized feminism into three major areas:
gender reform, gender resistance, and gender rebellion. Genderreform feminism emphasizes similarities between women and men
rather than focusing on differences between them. Gender-resistance
feminism holds that formal legal rights alone will not end gender
inequality; male dominance is too ingrained into social relations.
Gender-resistance feminism focuses on how men and women are
differentcognitively, emotionally, and sociallyand urges women
to form women-centered organizations and communities. Genderrebellion feminism looks at the interrelationships among inequalities
of sex, race, ethnicity, social class, and sexual orientation. A number
of years ago my text on the psychology of women displayed a quilt
on its cover (Paludi, 2002). I asked for this design to highlight
Gentrys (1989) image of quilt making for understanding feminism.
These three volumes on feminism and womens rights also represent
quilt making in understanding feminism. Each contributor has made
one piece of the quilt that has been joined with pieces by other contributors. Each of the contributors has used different stitching on their
piece of the quilt. No one chapter is more important than the other.
We need all pieces if we are to complete the quilt that is feminism.
According to Gentry (1989):
Feminist psychology and feminism in general seem to be at the point of
trying to piece together the individual parts of a quilt. The overall pattern of the quilt that we want is still emerging. No one knows what
equality in a post-patriarchal world will look like. We are beginning to
piece the separate parts togetherto explore the kinds of stitching to use
in connecting the pieces and how to place the separate pieces into the

xvi

Introduction
pattern. But we have not stopped questioning the process of quilting
itself.

In Volume 1, Heritage, Roles, and Issues, contributors have discussed


efforts to integrate feminist scholarship into several disciplines, including education, work, science, military, religion, and politics. As Catherine Stimpson (1971) noted, there have been three kinds of problems in
the disciplines and curriculum with respect to women: omission, distortions, and trivializations. Each of the contributors to Volume 1 notes
where the sexism in the disciplines has existed and where feminist correctives have restructured the disciplines. Jennifer Martin, in her chapter concerning gender differences in abilities, noted:
Women have made signicant social, academic, and occupational gains
in the past 50 years; for example, women are entering nontraditional
elds with more frequency, participating in high school and college
sports more than ever before, and carving out more egalitarian roles for
themselves within the family. However, women have still not ultimately
achieved true equity with their male counterparts. . . . The idea that
women somehow possess different or inferior aptitudes when compared
to their male counterparts can lead to diminished expectations for
womenin terms of how they view themselves and how others view
them.

In Volume 2, Mental and Physical Health, contributors deal with violence and discrimination against girls and women and the resulting
impact on womens emotional and physical well being, interpersonal
relationships, career development, and self-concept. Types of discrimination and victimization addressed are sexual harassment, sexual violence, harassment of sexual minorities, and rape and violence in the
context of womens HIV risk. Contributors have addressed these issues
globally. Bethany Waits and Paula Lundberg-Love offer new cutting
edge evidence on neurological responses in women victims of sexual
violence. Therapeutic support for women victims of violence is also
addressed in this volume, including feminist therapy and ethnocultural
psychotherapy.
All contributors note that sexual victimization is prevalent in the
United States and globally, as is sexual harassment and sexual orientation discrimination. As Waits and Lundberg-Love note:
Female survivors of sexual violence are everywhere. They are in universities, religious institutions, court rooms, hospitals, and the military. They
are daughters, mothers, spouses, sisters, friends, next-door neighbors,
and co-workers. Many differ in age, education, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. . . . However, their lives are connected by the violence that
they have experienced.

Introduction

xvii

The international focus on feminism and womens rights is continued in Volume 3, Feminism as Human Rights. In this volume, contributors address laws on sexual harassment, pay equity, and rape.
Furthermore, contributors speak to the injustices to women with disabilities. Human rights issues such as arranged and forced marriage
for women, pornography, and the globalization of western appearance
ideals are also presented in this volume. All contributors to this volume call for further advocacy on behalf of women. As Noorfarah Merali stated:
It is only if arranged marriages are understood in light of their intentions, diverse forms, actual outcomes, and local or international contexts
that laws, policies, and human rights advocacy can be appropriately
channeled to protect and preserve womens well-being.

In addition to the scholarly reviews of research on feminism and


womens rights, I have included womens personal accounts of their
own feminist identity development. They are at different stages in life,
in their career, and in relationships and yet they are bound by shared
stories.
It is my hope that these volumes encourage individuals to self identify as feminists. Research has suggested for some time that most people reject the term feminist when describing themselves but support
feminist principlesequal pay for equal work, for example (see Paludi
et al., Volume 3). Goldners (1994) study noted that when women who
hold feminist beliefs anticipate a negative reaction from their peers to
the label feminist, they will avoid using the term to describe themselves. Goldner indicated that media is a primary source of negative
images of feminists. It is common to see photos of women identied as
feminists having clenched sts. These images are not representative of
feminists. More recent research by Rudman and Fairchild (2007) found
that the stereotype that feminists are unattractive still persists.
However, these images are rejected by individuals, especially during
adolescence and young adulthood, when maintaining gender role stereotypic behavior is reinforced and is central to their self-esteem and
self-concept. Paludi, Paludi, and DeFour (2004) noted that individuals
reject the label feminist because they view themselves as in control, as
powerful rather than as victims of gender inequality. Thus, they perceive the term feminist to imply a powerless position, which they
reject (Rhode, 1977).
The contributors to each of the three volumes of Feminism and Womens Rights Worldwide encourage us to think critically about feminism,
to value cultural experiences and to integrate our knowledge of theories and research about feminism with our own life experiences. The
chapters encouraged me to do this in remembering my own feminist

xviii

Introduction

socialization. I encourage you to do the same. It is my hope these three


volumes serve as a life raft (Klonis, Endo, Crosby, and Worell, 1997)
for feminists, especially those in the millennial generation.
REFERENCES
Gentry, M. (1989). Introduction: Feminist perspectives on gender and thought:
Paradox and potential. In M. Crawford & M. Gentry (Eds.), Gender and
thought. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Goldner, M. (1994). Accounting for race and class variation in the disjuncture
between feminist identity and feminist beliefs: The place of negative
labels and social movements. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of
the American Sociological Association, Los Angeles.
Klonis, S., Endo, J., Crosby, F., & Worell, J. (1997). Feminism as life raft. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 333345.
Lorber, J. (1998). Gender inequality: Feminist theories and politics. Los Angeles:
Roxbury.
Paludi, M. (2002). The psychology of women. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ:
Prentice Hall.
Paludi, M., ed. (2008). The psychology of women at work: Challenges and solutions
for our female workforce. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Paludi, M., Paludi, C., & DeFour, D. (2004). Introduction: The more things
change, the more they stay the same. In M. Paludi (Ed.), Praeger guide to
the psychology of gender. xixxxi. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Rhode, D. (1997). Speaking of sex. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Rudman, L., & Fairchild, K. (2007). The F word: Is feminism incompatible with
beauty and romance? Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31, 125136.
Snelling, S. (1999). Womens perspectives on feminism. Psychology of Women
Quarterly, 23, 247266.
Stimpson, C. (1971). Thy neighbors wife, thy neighbors servants: Womens liberation and black civil rights. In V. Gornick & B. Moran (Eds.), Woman in
sexist society: Studies in power and powerlessness. New York: Basic Books.
Zucker, A., & Stewart, A. (2007). Growing up and growing older: Feminism as
a context for womens lives. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31, 137145.

Chapter 1

The Myth of the Man-Hating Feminist


Melinda Kanner
Kristin J. Anderson

The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a
socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave
their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism,
and become lesbians.
Reverend Pat Robertson (Robertson letter attacks feminists, 1992)

Spanky: Lets start a club right now. The He-man Woman-haters. Ill be
president.
Alfalfa: And Ill be second president, and you can be third president.
Buckwheat: Thanks.
Spanky: Alright, get up and do exactly what I do. Put your hand on your
heart, and raise your other hand. We, the He-man Woman-haters club . . .
Alfalfa and Buckwheat: We, the he-man woman-haters club . . .
Spanky: . . . promise not to fall for this Valentines business . . .
Alfalfa and Buckwheat: . . . promise not to fall for this Valentines business . . .
Spanky: . . . because girls are the bunk.
Alfalfa and Buckwheat: . . . because girls are the bunk.
Hearts and Thumps (1937) from the Our Gang comedy lm series,
directed by Hal Roach

THE HE-MAN WOMAN-HATER AND THE


MAN-HATING FEMINIST
In 1934, the comedy trio The Three Stooges made their rst short
musical novelty lm, The Woman Haters. In this misogynist cinema

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

fantasy, the fraternal organization protects men from the trials of


romance and marriage and from the presumed inevitable disappointments and betrayals that accompany relationships with women. A second fantasy comes from the Little Rascals child comedy troop who
produced the Our Gang comedies for nearly two decades, a regular
feature of which was the He-Man Woman-Haters Club, which provided solace for the little boys in the gang and excluded girls from
play. Both examples from the annals of American mass media illustrate
some of the important and lasting dimensions of the myth of the feminist man-hater. First, we nd an intrinsic conict that emerges in relationships between females and males, even in these young, preadolescent ctional proxies for real-life women and men. This conict
is presented as inevitable, natural, and as fundamentally contrary to
the personal and social interests of males. Second, in these apparently
innocent and trivial ctional illustrations, we nd the production of
justication for division and suspicionnot caution and sensitivity, but
overt and institutionalized hostility toward females from males. Finally,
contained in the invention of the woman-hater, and the need for boys
to embrace such an identity, is an expression of a diametric opposition
in which the needs of men and the needs of women are set up as
antagonistic. Whether or not such antagonism is real, it is effectively
made real and asserted redundantly and repeatedly. There is a presence in male-produced and (largely) male-consumed popular culture of
the gure of the woman-hating man. There exists as well a seemingly
parallel gurethe man-hating feminist. However, this gure is not, in
a parallel way, the creation of some delirious feminist fantasy, but the
product of the same mass media organ of patriarchy. The man-hating
feminist is an invention, and a powerful and effective one at that. But
what are the sources of these images? What allows the image of the
man-hater to persist, to stick in the popular mind? And what interests
are served by perpetuating this stereotype?
No matter how we frame it, feminism has gotten a bad rap in the
cultural mind. From the myth of the bra-burner, to the negligent
mother, to the career-minded spinster, to the man-hater, the mere mention of the word feminist produces strong and often negative reactions. The feminist has endured some of the most grotesque kinds of
distortion and defamation among all the emblems of social progressivism and liberation. Much as black activists have typically been portrayed as wild-eyed, reckless, and dangerous to society, the feminist
has been tagged with many labels. She has been assigned the role of
repository of many cultural fears, and has, perhaps most potently, been
identied as a man-hater. The man-hater itself is a socially and frightening gure in the cultural imagination. The man-hater will not cooperate with the goals and practice of patriarchy and poses a threat to
the very cornerstone, the living embodiment of patriarchy: the

The Myth of the Man-Hating Feminist

individual man himself. As with any political caricature, the images do


more than misrepresent: they obstruct and mislead.
These problems have been compounded somewhat by genuine critiques of patriarchy as a system. Much like the identication and
expose of the institutionalized racism of dominant society, feminist
critique of patriarchy necessarily identies the oppressive nature of the
social supremacy of man. The invented feminist man-hater is in
no way a natural, inevitable, or organic product of feminist politics
and philosophy. This straw woman is not linked to feminist values in
any sense. It rst serves nefarious and destructive ends aimed at
undermining the philosophy and struggle for social equality.
If this is not a real thing, how did it become coined? What specic
social and political circumstances are linked to this myth? Is there any
basis in reality to support the claims entailed in this gure? At stake
here is not just the good name of feminists, nor even the struggle for
equality. The data we present here demonstrate that it is not the case
that feminists hate men, but perhaps that anti-feminists hate men. The
man-hating feminist has no basis in reality but is part of a largescale, long-term tacit process by which power is maintained and the
myths that support gender inequality continue to circulate on its
behalf. It is part of a smoke-and-mirrors subterfuge to convert womanhaters into an epidemic of male bashing, feminist man-haters and lesbian conversion campaigns. In this process of misdirection, accusation,
and cultural myth-making, not only feminists are harmed. Any
woman, any man who resists the narrow and constricting connes of
absolute gender conformity, are victims as well.
This chapter explores the myth of the feminist-as-man-hater and
examines some of the origins and content of the myth. We do not
undertake here to review the history of the term feminist or to sort
through the hundreds of historical and recent aspersions cast on feminism through the direct effort of conservative news, and talk programming, or the more subtle but equally effective contamination of
mainstream news and entertainment media. The major contribution
offered here is an argument built on empirical evidence that actually
examines the truth-value of the claim that feminists dislike men. In our
empirical research, we investigated the real-life ideas and experiences
of respondents and discovered that the image of the feminist as manhater is far from the reality of women and men who embrace feminist
values and identify themselves as feminists.
FEMINISM: THE ANTI-FEMINIST CREATES
THE MAN-HATER FEMINISM
The very word evokes strong feelings in most people; Strong feelings and, too often, a world of misconceptions. The real meaning of

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

feminism, and what it actually means to call oneself a feminist, has


become obscured by an array of prejudices, preconceptions, and mechanisms that serve to maintain inequality. Structured inequality based
on gendermuch like inequalities based on race or ethnicity or sexual
identityhas been an established way of doing things for centuries.
For some, the question begins and ends with womens right to vote.
For others, a belief exists that gender inequality is a thing of the past,
and that women now enjoy social and economic equality in terms of
access to resources and prestige. Still others believe that feminism is an
antique effort, a fad whose time has passed. In any event, many
women and many more men continue to resist identifying themselves
as feminists.
What are some of the sources of the claims asserted by the manhating feminist myth? Some of the myths are simply defamatory and
dismissive of feminists and feminism. Through the simple accusations
of lesbian, and the homophobia easily mobilized, many are frightened away from the label that accurately describes their philosophy.
By invoking terrifying images of social outcasts, of spinsters, and
bra-burners, still others are driven into a disjuncture between values
and the adoption of an identity that accurately describes their social
principles. The deployment of the twinned terms man-hating and
feminist creates a myth with doubly harmful results. First, feminism
is denied the understanding it merits. The obfuscation and distortions
of the realities of feminismthe struggle for suffrage, the collective
striving for economic and social parity, the centuries-long drive to
achieve meaningful political participationare overwhelmed by the
fun-house mirror of misogyny held up by the accusations of manhating. Second, in the service of dismissing the central values of
feminism, such accusations additionally activate hostility toward lesbians
and intensify the sexism and misogyny that underlies both issues.
At its core, feminism is the belief in certain fundamental principles
of social, economic, political, and judicial equality. In a society in which
women and men have traditionally received unequal treatment, feminism seems a reasonable and long-overdue corrective to the historical
lack of access women continue to experience. Merriam-Webster denes
feminism as: (1) The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes; and (2) Organized activity on behalf of womens rights
and interests. The Encyclopedia Britannica denes it as: The belief in the
social, economic, and political equality of the sexes. And bell hooks
(2000) denes feminism as a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. On the face of it, it would seem that all women,
and most men, would identify with the goals of feminism. In spite of
the widely agreed-upon philosophical desire for guarantees of equality,
today, few women call themselves feminists. Survey research shows
that the percentage of respondents who actually call themselves

The Myth of the Man-Hating Feminist

feminists is strikingly small. In surveys of university women, the percentage who identify as feminists range from 8 (Myaskovsky & Wittig,
1997) to 44 percent (Bullock & Fernald, 2003) depending on the demographic makeup of the students. What accounts for these low numbers? When you consider the misconceptions we carry around with us
because of the way in which feminism is portrayed in popular culture
and politics, it is not surprising that relatively few women call themselves feminists. Anti-feminists blame feminists for a variety of social
problems: for young men entering college at a lower rate than that of
young women (Sommers, 2000); for the decline in manliness in
American culture (Manseld, 2006); and even for the terrorist attacks
of September 11, 2001 (Falwell, 2001).
MOST WOMEN ENDORSE FEMINIST PRINCIPLES
Surveys nd that women hold feminist beliefs but are hesitant to
describe themselves as feminists because they know that feminism is
viewed by some as anti-male (Alexander & Ryan, 1997; Aronson, 2003).
If it is the case that most peoplemen and womenendorse the fundamental principles of feminism, it should stand to reason that most
people would actually support feminism. Even among individuals who
endorse or embrace feminist principles, the adoption of the identity
feminist is resisted. One study of mostly white American women
who were college students found that of the women who did not consider themselves feminists, 81 percent agreed with some or all of the
goals of the feminist movement (Liss, Hoffner, & Crawford, 2000).
DO FEMINISTS HATE MEN? WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE?
Now let us address the common belief that feminists are man-haters.
While there are abundant of examples popular culture purporting to
reveal feminists attitudes toward men, there are very few empirical
studies on the subject. In addition to our own empirical study that we
describe shortly, Iazzos 1983 study is the only one we found that
examines feminists attitudes toward men. Iazzo (1983) developed the
Attitudes toward Men scale. He measured the degree to which women
agreed with statements about Marriage/Parenthood (e.g., Men consider
marriage a trap.), Sexuality (e.g., A man cannot get enough sex.),
Work (e.g., A mans job is the most important thing in his life.), and
Physical/Personality Attributes (e.g., An athletic man is to be admired.)
of men and gender roles. Women expressed their agreement on a 1 to
4 scale, and a score of 80 would indicate a neutral attitude toward
men. The control group sample was 104 mostly white women
recruited from a university, department stores, and other places of
business. They were compared with battered wives, rape victims,

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

lesbians, and feminists from a local chapter of the National Organization for Women. The control group mean score was 89.93, above the
neutral midpoint of 80.00, suggesting slightly positive attitudes toward
men. The average score of feminists was 79.54, not statistically distinguishable from the 80.00 midpoint, suggesting neutral attitudes toward
men. So feminists did not have negative attitudes toward men. What
about lesbians, a category that is often conated with feminists? Lesbians scored, on average, 70.97, so somewhat lower than neutral but
hardly indicative of man-hating. Further inspection of the statements
that make up the Attitudes toward Men scale may shed light on why
lesbians scored lower than both feminists and the control group of
women. Some of the statements may not be relevant to lesbians. For
instance, some of the items are as follows: Male sex organs are attractive, The male body is visually unappealing, and The sight of a
penis is repulsive. These are questions from the Sexuality subscale. It
would have been interesting to have analyzed how feminists and lesbians scored on each separate subscale. For instance, perhaps lesbians
had relatively anti-male attitudes on the 7 items that made up the
Sexuality scale because they do not nd mens body parts attractive.
Conversely, their scores on the other subscales could have been neutral
or positive. The limitation of Iazzos study is that many of the statements might be irrelevant to lesbians because the statements assume
that women have intimate relationships with men.
Maltby and Day (2001) studied British college students and examined various psychological characteristics as they correlate with attitudes toward women and men. For women, a feminine-stereotyped
gender role self-conceptthe degree to which people see themselves in
terms of feminine stereotypeswas found to be correlated with negative attitudes toward men. In other words, the more women saw themselves as feminine, the less they liked men. While Maltby and Days
study did not measure feminists attitudes toward men, their results
imply that perhaps it is non-feminists who do not like men because
feminists tend to have relatively more masculine and androgynous
gender role self-concepts than do non-feminists. Another way to put it
is that, in this study, women with traditional gender role orientation
who are likely to be non-feministshad more negative attitudes toward men than did women with nontraditional gender self-concepts
who are more likely to be feminists. Another study with an ethnically
diverse sample of university students found that those women who
perceived large value and belief differences between women and men
tended to like men less than did those women who did not perceive
large value and belief differences (Stephan, Stephan, Demitrakis,
Yamada, & Clason, 2000). Again, this study did not examine feminists
attitudes per se; however, we can extrapolate from the data. Other
studies have found that feminists tend to think women and men are

The Myth of the Man-Hating Feminist

not very different (Liss et al., 2000; Liss, OConnor, Morosky, & Crawford, 2001), whereas non-feminists are more likely to think that women
and men are fundamentally different (Yoder, Fischer, Kahn, & Groden,
2007). Therefore, it appears non-feminists see women and men as fundamentally different and have more negative attitudes toward men
than do feminists.
AMBIVALENCE TOWARD MEN: TWO ASPECTS OF
ATTITUDES TOWARD MEN
The most recent method of measuring attitudes toward men has
been the Ambivalence toward Men Inventory (AMI), developed by
Glick and Fiske (1999). They found two aspects of womens (and to a
somewhat lesser extent mens) attitudes toward men. Hostility toward
men represents overtly negative attitudes toward men. It characterizes
men as inferior in ways that are safe to criticize, such as that men are
babies when they are sick. Hostility toward men also taps into resentment about mens power relative to women, mens aggressiveness, cultural attitudes that portray men as superior, and the way men exert
control within heterosexual intimate relationships. Individuals with
high hostility toward men scores tend to agree with statements such
as, When men act to help women, they are often trying to prove
they are better than women, and Most men pay lip service to equality for women, but cant handle having a woman as an equal. The
second aspect of attitudes toward men is benevolence toward men. Benevolence toward men does not represent overtly negative attitudes toward
men, but rather overtly positive or affectionate attitudes toward men. It
is a set of beliefs that includes the idea that just as women are dependent on men, so too are men dependent on women. Benevolence toward
men suggests that a womans role is to take care of a man, but only in
the domestic context. Experiencing subjectively positive feelings of affectionate protectiveness, admiration, and connection with men in intimate relationships represents benevolence toward men. Those who
score high on benevolence toward men agree with statements such as,
Women are incomplete without men, and Even if both members of
a couple work, the woman ought to be more attentive to taking care of
her man at home.
Hostility and benevolence toward men are distinct concepts, although
they tend to occur together. That is, women who have high hostility toward men scores tend to also have high benevolence toward men scores.
Thus, women may resent mens power even as they subscribe to beliefs
that support it. Women tend to score higher than men on hostility toward men and lower than men on benevolence toward men.
Attitudes of hostility and benevolence toward men are correlated
with other kinds of beliefs. For instance, benevolence toward men is

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

correlated with sexist attitudes toward women: those who believe that
men should protect women, and that women should take care of men
at home, also tend to believe that women need protection because they
are inferior to men. Interestingly, womens hostility toward men and benevolence toward men scores correlate, indicating that some women
simultaneously hold beliefs that actively support and justify male dominance (benevolence toward men) at the same time they resent the consequences of this dominance (hostility toward men). Glick and Fiske (1999)
speculate that the greater the dependence a woman has on men, the
more she is likely to experience both benevolence and hostility toward
men; the former because of her recognition of her investment in men
and the latter because of resentment over her dependence.
Although Glick and Fiske do not directly answer the question of the
relative position of feminists in terms of their benevolent or hostile attitudes toward men, they do explore the relationship between gender inequality and hostility toward men and benevolence toward men, which has
implications for feminism and attitudes toward men. In a massive
study across sixteen nations, Glick et al. (2004), along with several colleagues around the world, used many translated versions of the AMI
to investigate attitudes toward men.
Glick et al. (2004) found that in most nations, hostility toward men
was higher among women than among men. Hostility toward men
scores correlated with the national measures of gender inequality. Specically, hostility toward men was higher in traditional than in egalitarian nations. At the same time, benevolence toward men was higher in
traditional than in egalitarian nations. The authors speculated that
women in traditional nations may be more resentful toward men for
what they view as abuses of power, but that this resentment is not necessarily a challenge to gender hierarchy because it coexists with benevolent beliefs about mens roles as protectors and providers. The more
hostile men are toward women, the more women resent and show hostility toward men. Heightened resentment of mens hostility may
explain why womens hostility toward men scores increasingly outstrip
mens in more traditional cultures.
It is worth noting that there were many more gender similarities
than differences across nationswomen and men in the sixteen nations
tended to have similar attitudes toward women and men. In terms of
addressing the myth of feminists and man-haters, the Glick et al. (2004)
study on attitudes toward men suggests that man-hating is linked
more to anti-feminism and gender in equality, than it is to feminism
and gender equality.
Although the AMI is widely used, it had not been used with feminists until Anderson, Kanner, and Elsayegh (2009) conducted a study
that examined feminists and non-feminists attitudes toward men that
surveyed an ethnically diverse sample of 488 American college

The Myth of the Man-Hating Feminist

students and asked them to respond to statements about gender roles


including the items from the AMI. Students were also asked whether or
not they are feminists. Only 14 percent of the sample of women and men
identied as feminists, which is consistent with an ethnically diverse sample. Contrary to popular stereotypes, self-identied feminists had lower
levels of hostility toward men than non-feminists. Interestingly, women
overall did tend to have higher levels of hostility toward men than did
men, but again, the hostility was not among the feminists. Feminists also
tended to have lower levels of benevolence toward men. Low levels of benevolence toward men does not mean one feels malevolence toward men, it just
means that the respondent does not agree with traditional gender roles
for instance, that women should take care of men in the home, while men
should be the main wage earners. Thus, based on our study results, it
appears that feminists, compared to non-feminists, do not have negative
attitudes toward men. Feminists do tend to reject traditional gender roles
that put women in less powerful positions than men.
Taken together, systematic empirical studies do not nd evidence
that feminists dislike men. In contrast, there is some suggestion than
non-feminists, those women who adhere to traditional gender stereotypes, dislike, or at least, resent, men. We must ask then, why does the
myth of feminist man-haters persist?
WHY DOES THE MYTH OF THE FEMINIST
MAN-HATER PERSIST?
The myth of the feminist man-hater exists in part because feminists
do not behave themselves in conventional ways. Feminists tend to violate gender role expectations, and that makes people uncomfortable.
Women who desire and have professions, women who resist the limitations of housewifery, women who do not feel themselves to be in the
irresistible grip of maternal inevitabilitythese and other women, and
men, who depart from gender conformity nd themselves in the sweep
of the accusation of man-hater. There are stiff sanctions for women,
and men, who violate gender roles. Now that we have established the
lack of empirical support for the notion that feminists are man-haters,
we are left with explaining why the myth persists and what we can do
about it. The next section begins by examining womens reactions to
conventional and nonconventional women by rst examining ambivalent sexism. Next, we will look at peoples perceptions of another type
of gender violator, women leaders. Then the supposed link between
feminism and lesbianism is examined, and the function of lesbian-baiting as a strategy to keep women in their place is discussed. Finally, the
empirical research presented in this chapter is put in its larger cultural
context by tying it to the battle of the sexes and the boy crisis
rhetoric that are currently popular.

10

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

WOMEN ARE WONDERFUL BUT FEMINISTS ARE NOT:


REWARDING TRADITIONAL AND PENALIZING
NONTRADITIONAL WOMEN
Understanding peoples negative attitudes toward feminists requires
understanding the context more generally of attitudes toward women.
Just as peoples attitudes toward men are ambivalentwith a mix of
respect and admiration along with resentment of mens power and
privilegeattitudes toward women are ambivalent as well. At rst
glance, however, attitudes toward women seem positive relative to attitudes toward men. Attitudes toward women are more positive in terms
of affect. Eagly and Mladinic (1994) have coined the phrase womenare-wonderful to illustrate this. The global category woman is viewed
more positively than the global category man. The women-are-wonderful effect occurs on explicit attitude surveys as well as with implicit
attitude measures such as when positive words such as good and
happy are associated more with women than with men (Rudman &
Goodwin, 2004). There are two important points about the positive
feelings people have about women compared to men connected to the
negative reaction some have for feminists. Just because a group is liked
does not mean that it is treated fairly and taken seriously. Also, just
because the global category women is liked more than men, this
does not mean that particular subcategories of women are liked. These
important caveats to the women-are-wonderful effect are elaborated
below.

DISCRIMINATION AND DISRESPECT


Gender-based discrimination is widespread and well documented
(see Valian, 1998, for a review). Take, for example, the disparities in
pay between women and men (see Volume 3) Women college graduates in the United States who work full time make only 75 percent of
what comparable men make (U.S. Department of Labor, 2005). In the
United States, girls and women are more likely to live in poverty than
are boys and men (Bishaw & Stern, 2006). And while women in the
United States held half of all management and professional positions
in 2004, only 14 percent of architects and engineers and 29 percent of
physicians and surgeons are women, whereas 86 percent of paralegals
and legal assistants are women (U.S. Department of Labor, 2005). In
terms of representations of women in popular culture in the United
States, men are overrepresented on prime time television shows (Screen
Actors Guild, 2005), in television commercials (Ganahl, Prinsen, &
Netzley, 2003), feature lms (Lauzen & Dozier, 2005), music television
(Seidman, 1999), and in newspaper comics (Glascock & PrestonSchreck, 2004). In terms of political representation, women make up

The Myth of the Man-Hating Feminist

11

only 16.1 percent of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives


and Senate (Center for American Women and Politics, 2008).
Eagly and Mladinics (1994) work on the women-are-wonderful effect
revealed, women may be liked, but they are not necessarily respected. Fiske,
Cuddy, Glick, and Xu (2002) have found that groups that are traditionally
targets of discrimination are judged along two dimensions: warmth and
competence. For instance, people tend to think Jews are highly competent,
but do not feel warmly toward themthey are respected but not liked.
People tend to feel warmly toward old people, but do not respect them
they are high on warmth, low on respect. As you might guess, women
are viewed as warm and therefore likeable, but they are less likely to be
seen as competent and are therefore less respected. Men, relative to
women, are less liked but are viewed as more competent.
If women are liked more than respected, where do feminists t in?
Haddock and Zanna (1994) found that people have different views of
two categories of women that are seen as opposites: housewives and
feminists. Like Eagly and Mladinics (1994) work on the women-are-wonderful effect and Fiske et al.s (2002) work on warmth and competence,
Haddock and Zanna found that when Canadian college students were
asked to form a mental image of the typical woman and typical man,
women were evaluated more favorably than were men. However,
when subcategories of women were considered, different attitudes
emerged. Feminists tend to be evaluated more negatively than housewives, even though feminists and housewives are both part of the
larger category of women. Haddock and Zanna further found that
those who dislike feminists believe that feminists violate traditional
values and customs. In other words, feminists are seen as a threat to
the status quo in a way that housewives are not.
AMBIVALENT SEXISM: THE CARROT AND THE
STICK OF PATRIARCHY
Because there are differing views of different types of women, sexism,
the institutionalized prejudice and discrimination against women is not
a single, unitary concept. Glick and Fiske (1997) developed ambivalent
sexism as a measure that captures subjectively positive and negative
feelings toward women. Racial/ethnic groups may, and often do, avoid
kinship ties (or almost any kind of contact) with other racial/ethnic
groups, however, heterosexual women and men have to be intimate.
For instance, one might be against marrying someone of another race,
but it is unlikely that a heterosexual man will decide not to be involved
with a woman. And although men may wish to exclude women from
certain activities and roles, few (even among the most rabidly sexist)
wish to banish women completely from their lives. You can avoid
another ethnic group, but it is hard to avoid another gender.

12

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

Similar to their measure of ambivalence toward men discussed earlier,


Glick and Fiske nd that mens (and peoples, generally) ambivalence
toward women can be broken down into two kinds of sexism, hostile
sexism and benevolent sexism. Hostile sexism is what most people think
when they think of sexism. It consists of overtly hostile feelings toward
women, with negative feelings toward, and stereotyping of, nontraditional women in particular. Hostile sexism seeks to justify male power,
traditional gender roles, and mens exploitation of women as sexual
objects through derogatory characterizations of women. Hostile sexists
agree with statements such as, When women lose to men in a fair competition, they typically complain about being discriminated against, and
Most women fail to appreciate fully all that men do for them. Benevolent
sexism is something of a slippery concept because it involves subjectively positive attitudes toward women. Women are characterized as
pure creatures who need protection from men. It is the view that
women are adored by men and are necessary to make a man complete.
Benevolent sexism relies on kinder and gentler justications of male
dominance and prescribed gender roles; it recognizes mens dependence on women and a romanticized view of heterosexual relationships.
Ideologies of what Glick and Fiske (1997) refer to as benevolent paternalism allow members of dominant groups to characterize their privileges as well deserved, even as a responsibility they must bear (similar
to the white mans burden). Men are willing to sacrice their own
needs to care for the women in their lives. Benevolent sexists agree
with statements such as, No matter how accomplished he is, a man is not
truly complete as a person unless he has the love of a woman, and Women
should be cherished and protected by men. For women, benevolent sexism
undermines womens resistance to male dominance: benevolent sexism
is disarming because it is subjectively favorable and also promises that
mens power will be used to womens advantage, as long as they can
secure a high-status male protector. People do not immediately recognize benevolent sexism as sexist, and some women are even attered by
the attitudes of benevolent sexism (Barreto & Ellemers, 2005).
Although hostile sexism and benevolent sexism are separate and
contradictory concepts, people can, and often do, experience hostile
and benevolent sexism simultaneously. People can have loving and
hating attitudes toward women. People tend to feel hostile sexism toward women who violate traditional gender roles (e.g., feminists, sexually active women) and benevolent sexism toward conventional
women (e.g., homemakers). Benevolent sexism can result in the
women-are-wonderful effect because traditional women are considered
to be wonderful because of their purity and nurturance. The way Glick
and Fiske describe the workings of ambivalent sexism, benevolent sexism is the carrotthe reward of positive feelings toward and protectiveness given to women who embrace traditional roles; and hostile

The Myth of the Man-Hating Feminist

13

sexism is the stickthe hostility that women who reject traditional


roles in favor of taking on traditionally masculine roles face from men
who wish to keep them in their places. Punishment (through hostile
sexism) alone is not the most effective means of shaping behavior
because that might result in only resentment and resistance. However,
punishment for some and reinforcement for others maintains patriarchy and the gender status quo (Glick & Fiske, 2001).
Benevolent sexism, then, is insidious for three reasons. First, it
doesnt seem like prejudice to male perpetrators because men do not
view it as something negative. Second, women may nd its sweet
allure difcult to resist (Glick & Fiske, 2001, pp. 114115). Praising
womens nurturing traits is part of expressing the belief that women
are especially suited to domestic roles. Furthermore, stereotypes of
women as nurturing and communal justify their subordinated status
(Jost & Kay, 2005). Third, benevolent sexism can drive a wedge
between women. Women (e.g., feminists) who reject the overtly negative aspects of hostile sexism as well as the more hidden negative
aspects of benevolent sexism are at odds with traditional women who
are rewarded by benevolent sexism and reject feminism because they
want to hold on to the little power they get as a result of benevolent
sexism. So, while feminists and traditional women should be working
in solidarity to ght gender discrimination, they are split by being on
two opposite sides of benevolent sexism.
Like their work on ambivalence toward men, Glick and Fiske have
analyzed patterns of hostile and benevolent sexism in a variety of cultures (Glick et al., 2004). In general, mens hostile sexism is higher than
womens, and women are more receptive to benevolent sexist beliefs
than hostile sexist beliefs. In nations where hostile sexism was
endorsed, women were especially likely to embrace benevolent sexism,
in some cases, even more so than the men. This points to the irony of
women who are forced to seek protection from members of the very
group that threatens them: The greater the threat, the stronger the incentive to accept benevolent sexisms protective ideology. This explains
the tendency for women in the most sexist societies to endorse benevolent sexism more strongly than do men. Furthermore, the countries in
which women rejected both benevolent and hostile sexism were the
ones in which men had low hostile sexism scores. As sexist hostility
declines, women may feel able to reject benevolent sexism without fear
of a hostile backlash.
Ambivalent sexism addresses the question of whether or not chivalry is good for women. In excluding women from the outside world
of work and from positions traditionally held by men, benevolent sexists exclude women from roles that offer more status in society. Thus,
some women (specically traditional women) are protected to some
extent by chivalry, but at great cost. Ambivalent sexism is a concept

14

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

that can also be related to other objectionable attitudes. Feminists, who


may reject chivalry for good reason, get an angry, defensive response
from men who feel that feminists are ingrates.
In a study of Spanish womens reactions (Moya, Glick, Exp
osito, de
Lemus, & Hart, 2007) to discriminatory scenarios (e.g., losing a promotion), the same acts of discrimination were perceived as less serious
when the perpetrators expressed a benevolent, protective justication
than when they expressed a hostile one. Furthermore, women who
scored higher in benevolent sexism were more likely to excuse both
hostile treatment from a husband and benevolently-justied discrimination by non-intimate men (e.g., a boss). But this pattern of response
only occurred among women participants who were without paid
employment. This nding suggests that women who are highly dependent on men are prone to forgive even hostile acts, perhaps reinterpreting them as signs of the husbands passionate attachment. One
study with Turkish and Brazilian respondents, found that individuals
(both women and men) with high levels of hostile sexism found wife
abuse more acceptable than those with low levels of hostile sexism
(Glick, Sakalli-Ugurlu, Ferreira, & de Souza, 2002). Benevolent sexism
has been linked to attributions of blame against women for acquaintance rape. Individuals high in benevolent sexism attributed less blame
to perpetrators and recommended shorter sentences for an acquaintance rape perpetrator than did low benevolent sexist individuals (Viki,
Abrams, & Masser, 2004). A study of Zimbabwean male college students found that those men with higher levels of hostile sexism
reported that they were more likely to commit acquaintance rape than
men with lower levels of hostile sexism (Viki, Chiroro, & Abrams,
2006). Thus, hostile sexism rationalizes mistreatment of women who
violate traditional roles, while benevolent sexism provides a framework
for what is acceptable (i.e., traditional) behavior for women.
The work on ambivalent sexism demonstrates that while traditional
women tend to elicit positive feelings from people, nontraditional
women such as feminists have hostile reactions directed toward them.
Even though the supposed protective qualities of benevolent sexism
are alluring to some women, that protection comes with the price of restricted options and strong sanctions to women who appear to violate
traditional roles.
PENALTIES FOR NONTRADITIONAL WOMEN
A central feature of negative attitudes toward women is the dislike
of women who do not t into the traditional feminine role (e.g., feminists, lesbians, women athletes). From the discussion of Glick and
Fiskes (1997) work on ambivalent sexism and Fiske et al.s (2002) work
on warmth and competence as a relevant dimension of judging social

The Myth of the Man-Hating Feminist

15

categories, it should be clear that what makes feminists threatening is


that they violate (or appear to violate) and reject traditional gender
norms for women.
Women leaders also violate peoples expectations about women and
therefore threaten the gender hierarchy. While women who are leaders
are not necessarily feminists, and feminists are not necessarily women
in leadership positions, both engender similar reactions. Think of the
strong reactions toward Hillary Clinton, Martha Stewart, and Condoleezza Rice. While women in leadership positions in the work domain
have gradually increased, expectations about what women are
like have not kept pace with womens changing roles. Research ndings have indicated that women who behave in ways typically reserved
for men are found to be less socially appealing than men who behave
similarly or women who behave in ways that are more in line with
normative prescriptions. When a woman is acknowledged to have been
successful at performing male gender-typed work, she is, by denition,
thought to have the attributes necessary to effectively execute the tasks
and responsibilities required. But it is these same attributes that are in
violation of gender-prescriptive norms (Valian, 1998). So, although
there is a good t between what the woman is perceived to be like and
what the job entails, there is a bad t between what the woman is
perceived to be like and the conception of what she should be like.
One study illustrates the subtlety with which judgments about
women who violate gender expectations get played out (Heilman, Wallen, Fuchs, & Tamkins, 2004). American college students were given
packets that contained a prole of a clearly successful or ambiguously
successful woman or man in a male-dominated job (assistant vice president in mechanics and aeronautics). Students were asked to rate the
candidate on competence, likeability, and interpersonal hostility. When
students rated the obviously successful candidate, women and men
were rated equallythey were both given credit for their successes.
However, gender did play a role when the candidates qualications
were ambiguous. When information about the candidates performance
was ambiguous, the woman was rated as less competent than the man.
There were results associated with liking ratings as well. When there
was ambiguity about the target persons performance, there was no
signicant difference between the liking ratings of women and men
targets. But when there was clear evidence of success, the woman was
liked less than the man. In other words, the clearly successful woman
was liked signicantly less than the clearly successful man, the unsuccessful woman, and unsuccessful man. A similar nding emerged in
terms of judgments of hostility. The woman candidate was rated as less
hostile than the man in the ambiguous performance outcome condition
but was rated as more hostile than the man in the clearly successful
condition. These results suggest the double standard used when

16

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

judging women in male-dominated occupations: Women were viewed


as less competent than men only when there was ambiguity about how
successful they had been; when the womens success was made
explicit, there were no differences in these characterizations. However,
when success was explicit, women were viewed as less likeable than
men. Women, although rated less competent than men when information about them was ambiguous, were at least rated as less hostile
interpersonally. But the switch when success was clear is dramatic:
women who are acknowledged as successful were viewed not merely
as indifferent to others but as downright uncivil. And these patterns
held for both women and men participants, so these gender stereotypic
norms and the tendency to penalize those who violate them are meaningful for both women and men. Heilman et al. (2004) also found that
dislike was associated with not being recommended for promotions
and salary increases. The authors conclude that while there are many
things that lead an individual to be disliked in the job setting, it is only
women who are disliked when they are successful.
LESBIAN-BAITING
Understanding the link between feminism and lesbianism reveals
some of the fundamental sources of the discomfort and antagonism toward feminism we have explored so far. Indeed, in casual contexts and
in mass media, lesbian is, erroneously, often portrayed as interchangeable with feminist where the presumption is made that lesbians are, by
denition feminists, and feminists are presumed to be lesbians. Both
lesbians and feminists are understood as women who disrupt and
threaten gender, and both terms describe nontraditional women. Both
feminists and lesbians seem inherently unladylike, assertive, and outspoken, and women like this threaten the gender status quo (Alexander
& Ryan, 1997).
Homophobia, in addition to sexism, creates an additional set of tactical opportunities to discredit and marginalize feminisms efforts to
achieve comprehensive equality for women. Like the accusation of
male-bashing, the framing of lesbianism as the inevitable result of feminism or as a necessary dimension of feminism, are scare tactics
designed to frighten people away from associating with feminism and
feminist activism. The very positioning of lesbianism as a source of discrediting reveals the underlying layer of homophobia that often joins
with sexism to maintain systems of oppression and retain privilege.
Women who have worked actively against sexual assault and rape are
often the target of lesbian-baiting. Framed as insults and debasement,
accusations of lesbianism, along with descriptions of feminists as angry, unladylike, and unfeminine, are employed to make feminists, and
by extension, the goals of feminism, unattractive and repellent. Grant

The Myth of the Man-Hating Feminist

17

(2000), who has studied community responses to anti-violence activists,


argues that these slurs are the result of people feeling as though
women are acting out of their place by complaining too much about
mens violence against women. It is as though it is okay to believe that
rape is wrong, but that women should not complain about it, or at
least if they complain, they should not complain loudly. Battered womens shelters and rape crisis centers have been vandalized with grafti
such as No means dyke, or No means tie her up. Rape crisis centers have been charged with turning women into lesbians or being
man-hating. Womens activism is seen as a threat. Lesbian, as much
as it is an expression of sexual identity, also functions as a regulatory
term (Grant, 2000). It refers to women who are independent from men.
That is why it can be used when a woman refuses sexual advances
from a man. Since lesbian is often conated with feminist, and because
of homophobia, feminists are often required to prove they are not
lesbians.
Lesbian-baiting can also be a form of sexual extortion, especially in
the military. Corbett (1997) has written about lesbian-baiting since the
emergence of the U.S. military policy of Dont Ask, Dont Tell, Dont
Pursue. According to Corbett, accusations of lesbianism are a threat to
all military women, regardless of their sexual orientation. The antigay
policy gives harassers and rapists tools of sexual extortion. Allegations
of lesbianism can ruin a womans career. It doesnt matter whether or
not the allegations are true. Women soldiers who refuse sexual advances from men may be accused of being lesbians and subjected to investigation for homosexual conduct. Thus, the Dont Ask policy is being
used as a weapon of retaliation against women who report sexual harassment or rape, against those who rebuff sexual advances, or against
those who succeed in their careers. Obviously, if lesbians and gay men
could serve openly in the military, this would be a less effective
weapon against service members.
Although lesbians, like feminists, are seen as man-haters, there is no
empirical evidence suggesting they are. Markey begins her Redbook article, Male Bashing, with, I used to be a rather accomplished malebasher. After all, I was married to a man. . . (Markey, 1993, p. 104).
Magazines from the popular press actually imply that male-bashers are
heterosexual women with traditional gender roles: women complain
about mens indelity (Lego, 1999), inept husbands (Heckard, 1998),
and men who are not domesticable (Heard, 1989). Lesbians likely
have different relationships with men and therefore do not have the
complaints, disappointments, and frustrations that some heterosexual
women have. Grant (2000) interviewed lesbian feminist activists who
reported that, rather than disliking men, they felt that men were either
neutral players (e.g., male relatives) or just not relevant to their lives.
One lesbian interviewee reported that men are not a major part of her

18

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

life and that heterosexual women complain about men all the time.
More systematic research needs to be done in the area of lesbians-asman-haters. We suspect another stereotype will be debunked, just as
the feminists-as-man-haters stereotype has been.
CONFUSING THE UNIT OF ANALYSIS: WAR AGAINST
THE SEXES VERSUS PATRIARCHY AND PRIVILEGE
Feminists are accused of man-hating when they object to gender discrimination because some interpret the objection as being anti-man (as
complaints about particular, individual men, or even all men) rather than
as a protest against the patriarchal system that gives power and privilege to men relative to women. Feminists see sexism as part of a system
of inequality (Kane, 2000). Those who do not understand the systemic
nature of gender inequality translate feminists activism as complaints
directed at particular men or at men as a category, as if feminists blame
each man or all men. For instance, in his book, Manliness, Harvey
Manseld describes feminism as women being none too pleased with
men and not shy about letting them know it (Manseld, 2006, p. 4).
The incorrect notion that stems from and engenders hatred of men,
rather than the accurate framing of feminism being a critique of a patriarchal system, does more than make women afraid to call themselves
feminists, thereby contributing to gender inequality. In the studies we
have reviewed in this chapter that revealed gender discrimination,
nearly all found that men and women participants discriminate against
women. Sexism and gender discrimination is not just something men
do to women. Everyone participates in a sexist system, although it is
certainly true that men benet through the male privilege inherent in a
sexist system. Ignoring the systemic nature of gender inequality also
leads men to feel stuck in a defensive response rather than being able
to see that men too are conned by gender expectations. Trivializing
feminists resistance to inequality as anger at men insults the womens
liberation movement that ghts for the right to vote, for equal pay, for
educational equity, and for reproductive freedomefforts focused on
changing the system, not on bashing men.
One manifestation of the focus on individual men versus the focus
on systemic gender discrimination and male privilege is the battle-ofthe-sexes (e.g., Heard, 1989) rhetoric that is prevalent in popular
culture. Battle-of-the-sexes rhetoric produces false neutrality and false
parallelism of the advantages/disadvantages of women and men and
suggests that both women and men are equally advantaged and disadvantagedjust in different ways (e.g., OBeirne, 2006). For instance, in
Time magazine article, Men, Are They Really That Bad? Morrow
(1994) takes on what he describes as the overt man bashing of recent
years (p. 54). He says, both men and women have been oppressed

The Myth of the Man-Hating Feminist

19

by the other sex, in different ways (p. 56), and American men and
women should face the fact that they are hopelessly at odds (p. 59).
Judy Markey (1993) says, How can we gripe that they put us down as
a group, if we do the same thing to them? (p. 105) and, Well wind
up sounding like squabbling children crying, He started it! No, she
did! (p. 105). This popular discourse that women-and-men-areat-odds suggests that womens and mens complaints are parallel and
equal. The sex wars rhetoric trivializes genuine critiques about patriarchy and male supremacy and reduces discrimination to a he-saidshe-said dynamic in which there are no real winners and no real losers,
but only miscommunication between the sexes.
This view of individual-based gender debates can reduce things
such as rape and sexual harassment to miscommunication that can
leave men victims. For instance, in his book, The Myth of Male Power,
Warren Farrell (1993) writes Feminism has taught women to sue men
for creating a hostile environment or for date rape when men initiate
with the wrong person or with the wrong timing (p. 18). Similarly,
Morrow (1994) claims that a successful approach to a woman is called
romance and courtship. Sexual harassment, according to Morrow, is
simply an unsuccessful approach, and, in his view, is unfairly treated
as a crime. This rhetoric suggests that the real victims of sexual harassment and rape are not women, but men who are victimized by womens irtations and mixed messages.
STEALING THE CENTER STAGE OF OPPRESSION:
THE BOY CRISIS
In recent years, another manifestation of the accusation of manhating comes in the form of the popular discourse on the boy crisis.
Beginning in the 1980s, there was an increase in awareness regarding
the male bias in clinical and popular psychological theories that treated
girls like deviants and boys as the norm, with books such as Carol
Gilligans (1982), In a Different Voice and Mary Piphers (1994) Reviving
Ophelia. Part of this focus was a critique of the educational system that
seemed more geared toward the benet of boys. Myra and David
Sadkers (1994) book, Failing at Fairness: How Americas Schools Cheat
Girls, as well as a report from the American Association of University
Women (1992), generated headlines in the popular press. As these
works grew in popularity, a backlash in the form of a recovery effort
for boys supposedly wounded by the alleged disproportionate attention given to girls and women during the 1980s and early 1990s began
to grow as well. Several anti-feminist pop psychology books on boys
development became best sellers. Christina Hoff Sommers (2000) book,
The War Against Boys, and now more recently, Kate OBeirnes (2006)
book, Women Who Make the World Worse and How Their Radical Feminist

20

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

Assault is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports, accompanied hundreds of books and newspaper and magazine articles published in the United States, Europe, and Australia about the boy
crisis. Writers cite the disproportionate numbers of women entering
and graduating from college compared to men who do so as their evidence of women getting one up on men. Typical newspaper and magazine articles of this type are entitled At Colleges, Women Are Leaving
Men in the Dust (Lewin, 2006), Silence of the Lads (Stark & Ebenkamp, 1999), and How Boys Lost Out to Girl Power (Lewin, 1998).
According to Meads (2006) analysis of National Assessment of Educational Progress data, in primary school, boys overall academic
achievement is increasing, but girls academic achievement is increasing at a faster rate. Girls still outperform boys in reading and writing
and boys outperform girls in math and science. Thus, mens higher
education attainment is not declining; its increasing, albeit at a slower
rate than that of women. Women still earn fewer than half of U.S. doctorates and professional degrees, such as those in law and medicine.
Women earn more masters degrees than men, but these are heavily
concentrated in female-stereotyped elds, such as education and psychology. Womens college degrees are more likely to be for low-paying,
low-status occupations such as teaching, and recent women college
graduates earn less than men even after controlling for choice of eld.
Anderson and Accomando (2002) analyzed the literature on the
boy crisis that claims that girls have myriad advantages over boys.
They nd that this literature reveals a panic reaction that amounts to
center-stealing (Grillo & Wildman, 1997). Center-stealing occurs when
members of a privileged group imagine a threat when attention, even
temporarily and briey, is directed away from them and toward members of a marginalized group. Center-stealing occurs when the dominant and privileged group steals back attention from the subordinate
group, putting the focus back on the dominant group. While books
and articles that focus on how the educational system has been biased
against girls assume that it is necessary to redress past wrongs including sexism, discrimination, and exclusion, boy crisis authors see the
focus on girls as a takeover by girls and women. The boy crisis
authors assume that the playing eld for girls and boys (and men and
women) was level before this relatively brief focus on girls, rather than
seeing the decades of disadvantage of girls. The brief moment of academic, educational, and popular focus on the inhospitable nature of
classrooms for girls and of the workplace for women has been perceived as a conquest by girls and women.
This backlash against feminism may account for some of the apparent internal contradiction among those who, while claiming to support
egalitarianism, think that feminists have gone too far. Much in the
ways that cries of reverse racism attract attention, engender fear,

The Myth of the Man-Hating Feminist

21

and draw upon the accumulated confusion and misinformation that


surrounds gender and race politics (Anderson, in press), those who are
genuinely disenfranchised become the accused, and the oppressors
either actual or symbolicare both exculpated and their imaginary
injuries are nursed and tended publicly.
CONCLUSION
How do we understand the myth of the man-hating feminist? How
do we explain the combined pedestalizing and devaluing of women
in mass media imagery? Finally, what do we make of the invention of
terms such as man-hating or male bashing? Cataldi (1995) discusses
the irony in the use of the term male bashing. To bash means to violently strike with a heavy crushing blow. Bash connotes an indiscriminate, random, confused and unmotivated lashing out. Bash suggests that
the striking of the blow is unfair, undeserved, or prejudicedsimilar to
how the word gay-bashing is usedviolently beating someone
because of their presumed homosexuality and never used in cases of
male violence against women. There is no standardized woman bashing. Verbal bashing appears to involve unjustly denouncing the members of a group, people who are innocent victims. As Cataldi reminds
us, women (in general) are not bashers, they are bashees. In the United
States, one study of more than 5,000 American women college students,
found that 28.5 percent had experienced an attempted or completed sexual assault either before or since entering college. One fth of the college
women reported experiencing an attempted or completed sexual assault
since entering college (Krebs, Lindquist, Warner, Fisher, & Martin, 2007).
One out of every 12 American women will be stalked at some point in
their lives, and 87% of the stalkers were men. Four out of ve stalking
victims were women (U.S. Department of Justice, 2006). Why arent
physical assaults on women characterized as female bashing? Cataldi
(1995) argues that conjuring up images of abused men bashed by
women and casting women in the role of bashers reverses what actually
happens. This table turning can then operate, perniciously, as a form of
victim-blaming and as a means of exaggerating the severity of any harm
done to men who are, supposedly verbally bashed by women. Another
function of co-opting the expression male-bashing and its brutality, is
to lead us into thinking that the male bashing women supposedly
engage in is equivalent to what men do to women. Those who use the
expression may also be attempting to siphon attention and support
away from women and from those who are physically harmed by men.
In designating feminists as male-bashers focus is shifted entirely from
the system, from the institutions, from the mechanisms that create, reify,
and perpetuate oppressive structures, including sexism, heterosexism,
misogyny, and homophobia.

22

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

On the very social bruises where attention should focus on the epidemic problem of mens violence against women, we nd instead
media attention proclaiming that there is a war on boys and that there
is an epidemic of male-bashing. Instead of social and educational programs, we have unsupportable claims that feminism brings with it
man-hating. The feminist critique of gender-based social inequality
may be disconcerting to men and some women; it might hurt feelings,
it might seem unfair, and it might seem to disregard mens good intentions. It certainly does problematize and complicate the privileges that
accrue to men in patriarchy. Although these challenges and their
results make menand doubtless many womenfeel resistant and
uneasy, these challenges do not constitute male bashing. Feminists are
not critical of men simply for being men.
A feminist social critique targets systems of gender-based inequality
and their connections to other forms of oppression based on sexuality,
class, and race. The stronger women become, the more gains they
make, the more pernicious are the representations of the feminist. A
living and vivid image in many domains in mass media, there appears
to be no real-life support for such fears. Indeed, given the goals and
values central to feminism, it is anti-feminists rather than feminists
who harbor and express hostility toward men in a patriarchal society.
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the labor force: A databook. Retrieved May 15, 2007, from www.bls.gov/cps/
wlf-table17-2005.pdf.
Valian, V. (1998). Why so slow? The advancement of women. Cambridge, MA: The
MIT Press.
Viki, G. T., Abrams, D., & Masser, B. (2004). Evaluating stranger and acquaintance rape: The role of benevolent sexism in perpetrator blame and recommended sentence length. Law and Human Behavior, 28, 295303.
Viki, G. T., Chiroro, P., & Abrams, D. (2006). Hostile sexism, type of rape, and
self-reported rape proclivity within a sample of Zimbabwean males. Violence Against Women, 12, 789800.
Yoder, J. D., Fischer, A. R., Kahn, A. S., & Groden, J. (2007). Changes in students
explanations for gender differences after taking a psychology of women
class: More constructionist and less essentialist. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31, 415425.

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Chapter 2

Gender Differences: The Arguments


Regarding Abilities
Jennifer L. Martin

Women have made signicant social, academic, and occupational gains


in the past 50 years; for example, women are entering nontraditional
elds with more frequency, participating in high school and college
sports more than ever before, and carving out more egalitarian roles
for themselves within the family. However, women have still not ultimately achieved true equity with their male counterparts for a variety
of reasons, one of which stems from the self-fullling prophecy (or the
power of expectation). The idea that women somehow possess different
or inferior aptitudes when compared to their male counterparts can
lead to diminished expectations for womenin terms of how they
view themselves and how others view them (Martin, 2008). The conception that womens lacuna in achievement is somehow natural and
related to ability is perpetuated in the popular media and in academic
scholarship. For example, in January 2005, Harvard president, Lawrence Summers, suggested that innate ability might explain why
there are so few women in the highest levels of science, technology,
and engineering positions in academia (Bombardieri, 2005). Researchers
examined standardized test scores and compared the numbers of
women in mathematics and science courses and occupations to those
of men to justify gender-based differences in intellectual ability. However, there are many scholars and activists who insist that gender differences in achievement are based on cultural factors such as gender
socializationand that numbers alone do not tell the whole story about
womens abilities. It appears that the nature versus nurture debate is
still alive and wellboth in the popular press as well as in academe.

28

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

Gender stereotyping has much to do with this debate, for it can lead
to gender discrimination; it can also create low expectations for the stereotyped. When people have low expectations for women attempting to
enter a nontraditional eld, for example, they may be less likely to hire
them based upon said stereotypes. Negative stereotypes based upon
gender can also lead to diminished expectations, which can affect people
on an individual level: where people expect little for themselves and live
up to that expectation. When expectations are low, so too is achievement; thus negative self-fullling prophecies are perpetuated. No matter
what the cause, gender discrimination is still a major problem for girls in
schools and for women in the workplace and in academe (Carr, Szalacha, Barnett, Caswell, & Inui, 2003). In order to be successful, girls and
women have to overcome more obstacles in a variety of different areas
simply by virtue of their gender. This fact is often compounded by
racial, socioeconomic, and heterosexist biases as well. Despite the fact
that, according to Lorber, . . . gender, like culture, is a human production that depends on everyone constantly doing gender (1994, p. 13,
as cited in Lueptow, Garovich-Szabo, & Lueptow, 2001, p. 3), people do
not generally view gender as a construction. Many view gender as a
naturally occurring phenomenon where behavioral roles are determined on the basis of biology and are thus unchangeable.
Gender socialization theory posits that gender differences in academic and career choices stem from stereotypeswhich are handed
down via socialization (Konrad, Yang, Goldberg, & Sullivan, 2005).
Women and men unknowingly accept traditional norms, values,
expectations, roles, as normal, natural, and their own (Konrad et
al., 2005; Martin, 2008). Adherence to such norms is reinforced by the
culture; those who deviate from proscribed behaviors are punished by
isolation, social and workplace exclusion, ridicule, etc. Because masculine and feminine stereotypes are still enforced for males and females,
often boys and men gravitate toward academic areas and careers that
relate to or represent the masculine role. The same is true for girls and
women (Konrad et al., 2005). Such stereotypes are bound to have an
effect on girls and womens perceptions of themselves and on what
they are capable of achieving. In sum, sociocultural inuences play a
large part in supposed gender differences (Whiston & Bouwkamp,
2003). The extent to which people challenge such norms has much to
do with individual expectation and future individual success. Although
feminist educators are working to alleviate the effect of gender stereotypes through education and to lobby for more egalitarian treatment of
girls and boys within the family, the schools, and in the workplace,
these cultural traditions and their effects still persist.
Perhaps the most telling facet of womens success in the workplace,
or lack thereof, is this psychological precept: observers perceive that the
abilities, attributes, and personality factors that enable a person to

Gender Differences: The Arguments Regarding Abilities

29

succeed in a particular activity are somehow natural to that person (or


group of people) (Eagly & Steffen, 1984). Thus, when women are absent
from certain elds or from positions of power, society deems it to be a
natural problem with women, that something within them is missing
that would enable them to hold said positions. The issue here is not necessarily inherent ability, but the perception of ability (or lack thereof).
The socialization of girls inuences gender differentiation in personality characteristics and values. For example, girls are often socialized to
believe that when they become women, they should place other things
ahead of their own career advancement, such as home and family. Even
if women do not hold these values as primary, they are often perceived
as holding these values by the corporation; corporate managers do not
promote people to positions of power who do not hold career as their
main priority. To complicate this situation, women who do not hold
these traditionally feminine realms sacred, as society deems they
should, may be harshly judged by this failure of femininity. Women
are still, to a certain extent, expected to value children and taking care of
the home and family as a priority; women who deviate from this
convention are often viewed with judgment and derision.
Kirchmeyer (2002) argues that gender roles are malleable. Although
gender socialization contributes to ones personality and dictates how
many people perform gender for life, peoples perceptions of their
gender or the expectations for their gender can be changed or altered
throughout the life cycle. Kirchmeyer (2002) argues that gender has
more to do with career choices than biological sex. Thus, gender role
socialization is a greater predictor of career choice than is biological sex.
According to Goodman, Fields, and Blum (2003), women and men possess similar career aspirations and values, which suggests that women
experience barriers to workplace advancement to explain their lack of
prominence in positions of power. The research suggests that women
have not achieved workplace equity, in terms of pay and in terms of
position, in part because of the expectations for their gender. In short,
narrow and limiting gender role expectations still exist and still negatively affect women. In fact, the essentializing of the sexes, or holding
differential expectations for women and men that are based solely on biological sex, can be dangerous and limiting for both women and men.
Kerka (1993) also cautions against the essentialization of women and
men. Some researchers (Gilligan, 1982) have called for a separate
approach to viewing women, that women have different ways of
knowing. Kerka warns that focusing on the differences, as opposed to
the similarities, between women and men can have serious negative
effects. Instead, validating a variety of types of thinking may assist in
different perspectives being valued as opposed to one. Women are
socialized to focus on relationships and intimacy; because of this, womens careers often do not follow a traditional or linear pattern (as is
common in men) (Kerka, 1993).

30

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

Workplace stereotypes often hinder womens advancement (Crampton & Mishra, 1999): Women are thought to be weaker than men;
women are thought to lack commitment to their employment, for they
may leave to have or rear children. It is assumed that women cannot
work long hours because of household responsibilities; women are
thought to lack judgment in making difcult decisions or in high-stress
situations. The prevailing feminine stereotypes promote the prototype
of woman as nurturing, soft, caring, emotional, and communal. Midgley and Abrams (1974) indicate that societal expectations and stereotypes have had negative effects on womens motivation. Women must
ght these stereotypes in order to compete and succeed.
Gender schema theory argues that perceptions develop regarding
gender based upon the information we receive from a variety of areas.
As Bem (1983) states, Adults in the childs world rarely notice or
remark upon how strong a little girl is or how nurturant a little boy is
becoming, despite their readiness to note precisely these attributes in
the appropriate sex (p. 604). For todays girls and boys, such schema
can have negative effects on social and academic development and on
eventual career choices and advancement.
In the early 1980s, a series of articles was published by Benbow and
Stanley (1980, 1982) that attributed the gender differences between boys
and girls on the mathematical portion of standardized tests to biological
causes (Jacklin, 1989). The popular media then publicized these ndings. The effect of these studies and the subsequent communication of
them resulted in the support of the already popular myth that males
possess superior abilities in mathematics. As Jacklin indicates, although
these authors reported a biological explanation for gender differences,
they possessed no biological data. During this time, another larger-scale
study conducted by Eccles and Jacobs (1986) found that math anxiety,
stereotypical beliefs of parents with regard to gender, and the perception
of the value of math account for gender differences in mathematical
achievement. According to Jacklin, . . . Eccles and her colleagues have
found that most strongly related to their mothers beliefs concerning the
difculty of mathematics for their children. Mothers beliefs were also
important in that they directly and strongly inuenced their childrens
math anxiety (p. 127). Despite the results of this study, the overwhelming impact of the initial communication of innate differences between
the sexes in the press had long lasting and far-reaching effects.
This media campaign had a direct impact on parental perceptions,
which further caused more gender-based stereotypes regarding math
abilities of children. As Jacklin (1989) states, As mothers came to
believe that mathematics was much more difcult for girls than boys,
their daughters become less likely to take additional math courses
(p. 128). Linn and Petersen (1985, 1986) found that there is no consistent pattern of gender difference regarding mathematics, science, and

Gender Differences: The Arguments Regarding Abilities

31

spatial reasoning. In essence, cognitive differences based upon gender


have been reduced in the past few decades (Jacklin, 1989). In 1988,
Feingold analyzed ndings of the Differential Aptitude Tests (DAT) in
terms of gender and found that the performance advantage of males
on the spatial measures and the performance advantage of females on
the language measures decreased between the years of 1947 to 1980.
Rosenthal and Ruben (1982) also studied this phenomenon, but could
not nd a reason for it: . . . we can say that, whatever the reason, in
these studies females appear to be gaining in cognitive skill relative to
males rather faster than the gene can travel! (p. 711). Thus, it would
seem, nature, or biology alone, cannot answer the question of whether
or not gender differences exist with regard to academic ability.
One possible reason for the narrowing of the gender gap in math and
science is the attempt to make standardized tests less gender biased. It is
imperative that test developers create culturally responsible assessments
so that they are fair and equitable to all who take them. According to
Kaminski, Shafer, Neumann, and Ramos (2005), Examination of a
measures underlying factor structure and its stability across different
ethnic groups is one important step in legitimizing the widespread use
of any given measure. Failure to attend to such ethnic/cultural considerations could not only have a negative impact on assessment and therapy
but also violate ethical standards (p. 322). In short, certain groups have
historically had an advantage to perform well on standardized tests,
which has served to perpetuate societys status quo.
When examining standardized test results, oftentimes gender differences appear when data are disaggregated. For example, in general, girls
tend to outperform boys in terms of grades in the early elementary
years, but boys outperform girls on novel tasks (Robinson, Abbott, Berninger, & Bussee, 1996). However, by high school, boys outperform girls.
Most studies on gender indicate that males outperform females on mathematical, logical, and spatial abilities (Rammstedt & Rammsayer, 2002).
Males are more likely than females to score higher on measures of science and mathematics; females tend to score higher on measures of
reading comprehension (OReilly & McNamara, 2007). The largest gender differences exist in the area of visual-spatial abilities. According to
Linn and Petersen (1986), such differences can be measured around the
ages of eight or nine; these increase at the age of 18 and continue
throughout the life cycle. Halpern (1989) argues that gender differences
in cognitive abilities still exist and that studies suggesting the gap is
decreasing are faulty. However, numbers alone cannot adequately
describe the range of human experiences that contribute to such seemingly gender-based content area differences on standardized tests.
To give a strictly biological explanation for these differences is simplistic at best. There are a variety of factors at play here. For example,
boys are overrepresented in high school advanced math courses

32

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

(Robinson et al., 1996), which may affect their performance on standardized tests; girls underrepresentation in the same courses also contributes to the explanation of the achievement gap of girls. Despite the fact
that girls achievement in mathematics has improved in recent years,
girls perceptions of their math achievement remain dysfunctional
(Preckel, Goetz, Pekrun, & Kleine, 2008). This is also true of girls who
are gifted in science. As Preckel et al. (2008) indicate, In the general
population, fewer women than men chose academic courses or careers
in mathematics, the inorganic sciences, and engineering. This also
holds true for women of high scientic ability. Research has further
documented that the underrepresentation of women in these elds
grows with increasing scientic ability (p. 147).
Gender differences in math and science have much to do with the
expectations of future success and perceptions of competence (again
the self-fullling prophecy). Parents expectations do much to inuence
their childrens perceptions along these lines (Preckel et al., 2008). Girls
feel they have to work harder to achieve success in math, and they
show less condence in their abilities (Preckel et al., 2008). In sum, stereotypical gender role expectations on the part of the individual, in
conjunction with the expectations of parents and teachers, work to
shape achievement-oriented motivations, which inuence development
(Preckel et al., 2008). This can have negative consequences for girls in
mathematics and science courses. In addition, female students tend to
rate their competence levels in mathematics lower than their male
counterparts (Preckel et al., 2008). The corresponding stereotype that
still persists is that girls are better at reading and writing; this expectation can obviously do much to hinder boys in these areas.
Beginning at an early age, boys possess a higher level of general
self-esteem than do girls (Hergovich, Sirch, & Felinger, 2004). Moreover, boys have been found to possess higher self-concepts in the area
of mathematics, whereas girls possess higher self-concepts in language
(Hergovich et al., 2004). Furthermore, males tend to be more likely than
females to suffer from reading disabilities (OReilly & McNamara,
2007). Females tend to use overt study strategies more often than males
and have higher grade point averages (GPAs) (OReilly & McNamara,
2007). Reasons for gender difference include gender-stereotyped socialization (Hergovich et al., 2004). According to OReilly & McNamara
(2007), . . . we also recommend addressing gender differences by
working together with teachers and parents to reduce stereotypical attitudes and behaviors that support gender differences. This is important
because research has shown that gender differences are supported by
socialization. For example, recent work has shown that mothers engage
in more science talk with boys than they do with girls . . . and teachers
are often more responsive with boys than girls (pp. 187188). In short,
self-perceptions are often not only echoed by others, but also

Gender Differences: The Arguments Regarding Abilities

33

inuenced by them, e.g., by parents and teachers. For example, according to Hergovich et al. (2004), Parents especially tend to judge their
children in a gender-stereotypical way, so that boys are rated better in
the areas of mathematics and sports and girls are rated better in verbal
areas (p. 208). Even if performance rates do not accord with these perceptions, sons are still rated higher than daughters.
Research indicates that expectation has much to do with academic
achievement. To illustrate this point, males estimate their general intelligence higher than do females (Rammstedt & Rammsayer, 2002). Beloff
(1992) found self-estimates to be related to gender stereotypes. According to Rammstedt and Rammsayer (2002), Such gender stereotypes
may be based on minor though true gender differences that become
overpronounced by ignoring intragender differences and, concomitantly, by focusing on the intergender bias (p. 276). Thus, the story
becomes: there are biological differences based upon gender which
explain academic differences. Historically, this has been demonstrated
on standardized assessments and it was seen as natural. Now we see
that there can be cultural and sociological factors that contribute to
such explanations. Geary (1989) argues that the explanation for gender
differences in academics is not biological, but cultural: specically, that
culture can inuence the development of cognitive skills. However, this
cultural explanation (that the experiences of males and females are
becoming increasingly similar over time) does not account for the complexity of this phenomenon. In other words, Geary argues that there is
more to this than simply the effect of culture on humans. Hormones
and anatomy still play a part in cognitive development, which may
inuence choice, which then may further inuence male advantage in
certain areas. According to Geary:
Culture, however, may attenuate or exaggerate these early biologyrelated behavioral gender differences by directing the focus of the experiences of male and female individuals to be more or less similar, which
would thereby inuence the pattern of gender-related abilities. Within
this model, the male performance advantage on measures of spatial ability would be related to prenatal hormonal factors, but the magnitude of
this advantage would not be immutable and in fact could vary across
generations and across cultures. (p. 1155)

If this is in fact the case, then, as Geary argues, as females and males
continue to engage in increasingly similar activities, gender differences
in terms of cognitive abilities may cease to exist. Also, as Geary argues,
these experiential differences may interact with hormonal differences,
which may further lessen gender differences. In short, biology and
human development are not immutable. For example, as Geary states,
. . . the distribution of these early sex-dimorphic behaviors might be

34

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

continuous with later patterns of adolescent special-related activities


which, in turn, could contribute to gender, and individual, performance differences on measures of spatial ability (p. 1156).
Jacklin (1989) argues that the negative effects of the media coverage
on the continued superiority of males in math should be proactively
combated in schools. Interventions should be created that address negative stereotypes on behalf of students, parents, and teachers. Much work
has been done in this regard (see Sadker & Sadker, 1994) such that there
is currently a backlash against interventions for girls. The media now
suggests that the extra time and resources used to increase achievement
for girls in math and science has had a negative effect on boys.
In 2005, Laura Bush announced that her new focus would be the
problem of boys (2006, Newsweek). The popular media (via the New
Republic, Esquire, Newsweek, the Today show, etc.) presented the case
that at every level of education, Americas boys are falling behind in
academic achievement, graduating from high school at lower rates than
girls, attending college less frequently than girls, and exhibiting poorer
verbal skills (Mead, 2006). Single-sex classrooms and schools are opening nationwide to address this crisis by redirecting educational efforts
(and funding) to the nations boys. Feminists and Title IX are often
blamed for this new boy crisis (see, for example, Christina Hoff
Summers The War against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming our
Young Men); when, in fact, opponents of Title IX have created and perpetuated the myth that expanded educational opportunities for girls
have somehow come at the expense of boys. However, this is a gross
oversimplication. This is the very nature of backlash: to minimize or
erase the real gains that girls have made by perpetuating a myth that
Americas boys are in crisis, in large part, because of the attention paid
to Americas girls. However, when one truly examines the data, the
test scores, in elementary school girls do as well or better in math than
boys. There is a gap in middle school that widens greatly between girls
and boys in high school (Mead, 2006). In fact, in terms of overall academic achievement, attainment for boys is higher than ever (Mead,
2006). According to the American Association of University Women
(AAUW) (2008) Educational achievement is not a zero-sum game, in
which a gain for one group results in a corresponding loss for the
other. If girls success comes at the expense of boys, one would expect
to see boys scores decline as girls scores rise, but this has not been
the case (p. 2).
This gap also translates to higher education. For example, in Ivy
League schools, men still outnumber women (Rivers & Barnett, 2006).
The truth is that the real crisis is a crisis of poverty: 76 percent of students in middle- to higher-income areas graduate from high school,
compared to 56 percent of students from lower-income areas (Swanson,
2004). The truth is that there are more differences within the sexes than

Gender Differences: The Arguments Regarding Abilities

35

between: boys are more different from each another than they are from
their female counterparts (Mead, 2006). The true test of equity in America is the wage gap, which still disproportionately affects women negatively (women earn .77 to a dollar earned by a man) and is a telling
example of just what kind of crisis we are still experiencing (Institute
for Womens Policy Research, 2008).
The data suggest that boys have made progress in most academic
areas, but girls have made improvements faster in certain areas, such
as math, science, and geography. Consequently, girls have narrowed
some academic achievement gaps, creating the fear that boys are in crisis (Mead, 2006). The idea that girls are surpassing their male counterparts in certain academic areas (although they are still behind in
others) seems hard for many to accept. Instead, many blame feminism
for shortchanging boys. According to some critics, feminists have
advocated for allotting monetary resources on girls (at the expense of
boys) and demonized typical male behavior. Perhaps the conversation
about gender and achievement should shift to one that is not based
upon one group at the expense of another, but on interventions that
are necessary at all levels; scholars and advocates should be able to discuss boys and achievement without unfairly undermining the gains
girls have made. When disaggregating data for race and class, white
suburban boys are not signicantly affected by this crisis. Again, the
privileged perform well on standardized assessment, and thus the status quo is maintained. The boys who truly need academic interventions
are many rural and inner-city boys.
Despite all of the attention in the popular press about boys in crisis,
the fact remains that academic faculties in U.S. institutions, especially
in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) areas,
are still predominantly male (Spelke, 2005). Popular belief suggests that
this is the case because rst, women are less talented in these elds;
and, second, this gender difference has a genetic explanation (dealing
with intrinsic aptitude). According to Spelke (2005), males possess
greater variability in their inherent talent in mathematics, and thus,
they predominate in professions such as mathematician and scientist:
that a genetic predisposition to learn about particular, gender-specic,
things exists. Females have made gains in these areas, largely because
of Title IX. For example, the gender gap has closed with regard to
enrollment in calculus courses (Spelke, 2005), and in 2000, women
received 47 percent of the bachelors degrees awarded in mathematics
(Spelke, 2005).
According to Spelke (2005), men do not possess greater intrinsic aptitude in mathematics and science, Although older boys and girls
show somewhat different cognitive proles, the differences are complex and subtle (it is not the case, e.g., that women are verbal and men
are spatial) (p. 956). Spelke argues that such differences are caused by

36

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

strategy choices. In terms of both average and gifted students, high


school boys and girls do equally well in math classes.
Title IX has done much to increase girls visibility in traditionally
male dominated areas: such as math, science, and sports. Such male
dominated domains have also, it has been argued by many, been due
largely to differential, innate, differences between women and men.
Prior to the 1970s, the career and technical education system in the
United States intentionally segregated students by sex. Soon after Title
IX passed, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and
high school administrators argued that boys sports would suffer if
girls sports had to be funded equally. Since the enforcement of Title
IX, girls participation and achievement in math and science have
increased substantially, discrimination against pregnant girls and teachers has decreased, vocational schools and classes have been opened to
both sexes, sexual harassment in schools is now illegal, and girls participation in sports has exponentially increased (National Coalition for
Women and Girls in Education, 2008). Since the passage of Title IX,
womens high school participation in sports has increased by 904 percent (from 294,015 in 19711972 to 2,953,355 in 20052006). Mens high
school sports participation has increased by 15 percent (from 3,666,917
in 19711972 to 4,206,549 in 20052006) (National Coalition for Women
and Girls in Education, 2008). At the college level, womens sports participation has increased by 456 percent since the passage of Title IX
(from 29,977 in 19711972 to 166,728 in 20042005). Mens sports participation since the passage of Title IX has increased by 31 percent (from
170,384 in 19711972 to 222,838 in 20042005) (National Coalition for
Women and Girls in Education, 2008). Thus, Title IX has not caused a
decrease by male sports participation at either the high school or the
college level.
According to the National Womens Law Center (July 2008) there are
many positive effects of sports participation for girls: it increases condence, self-esteem, and promotes pride in girls physical and social
selves. Sports participation can also reduce the likelihood of drug use
and teenage pregnancy, increase graduation rates, and decrease depression. Female student athletes are more likely to have higher grades and
are less likely to drop out of school; they also have higher graduation
rates than their nonathletic peers. Because of Title IX, the gender gap at
all grade levels has decreased signicantly since 1970 on standardized
assessments in science and math. The percentage of women obtaining
bachelors degrees in natural sciences and engineering has more than
doubled. The percentage of women obtaining doctoral degrees in these
same elds has more than quadrupled. However, women still only earn
20 to 25 percent of the degrees awarded in physics, computer sciences,
and engineering. In addition, the culture of STEM elds remains male
dominated and still isolates and excludes girls and women.

Gender Differences: The Arguments Regarding Abilities

37

Again, despite the attention in the popular press that girls and
women are outperforming boys and men in a variety of areas, there is
still much work to be done. For example, women comprise 79 percent
of public school teachers, but only 44 percent of the principals. Women
represent less than one in ve faculty members in STEM elds. In engineering in particular, women account for just over one in ten faculty
members. Women are 49 percent of all part-time academic employees
at the college level, but hold only 39 percent of full-time academic jobs.
The salaries of women K12 teachers in 1973 were 84 percent of male
teachers salaries. The discrepancy in female and male teacher earnings
is smaller than the national average for all working women in 57 percent in 1973 and 77 percent in 2006. In institutions of higher education,
overall wages for women faculty have remained at approximately 81
percent of mens earnings since the late 1970s (National Coalition for
Women and Girls in Education, 2008).
Many inequities still exist because of a lack of understanding and
implementation of the law. Title IX is often poorly understood and
poorly implemented by educators, parents, and students. For example,
relatively few education agencies comply with the Title IX regulation
to appoint, train, and make available their Title IX coordinators.
Parents and community members can help this problem locally, by
calling their local school districts and asking about Title IX coordinators, state-wide by contacting their congress members in order to put
pressure on school districts to comply with these regulations. Specically, every recipient of federal funding (under Title IX) must designate
and adequately train at least one Title IX coordinator.
Prior to Title IX, many educators and counselors accepted the stereotype that girls could not achieve in STEM subjects. Unfortunately, these
stereotypes still exist, as illustrated by the comments of Lawrence
Summers, which were discussed at the beginning of this chapter, for
example. Despite the perpetuation of these stereotypes by some, signicant progress has been made by women in many nontraditional areas,
dispelling the myth that academic ability has inherently something to
do with ones gender. However, there is still much more work to be
done. Unfortunately, girls still comprise approximately 90 percent of
students enrolled in classes, which will lead to traditionally female
occupations and only 15 percent of classes in traditionally male elds
(National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, 2008). There are
many factors that contribute to this occurrence: the perpetuation of
gender stereotypes being one. Other factors, which may stem from the
adoption of or adherence to said stereotypes is a distinct possibility;
for example, biased career counseling, discriminatory treatment by
teachers, sexual harassment, and other sexist practices, can result in
limited educational opportunities for girls and women. This translates
to signicant negative consequences for womens current and eventual

38

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

economic security. Despite gains in educational equity, there is still a


backlash against Title IX. Some opponents to Title IX insist that the law
has led to diminished opportunities for men, contrary to the evidence.
Opportunities for men in sports have expanded since the passage of
Title IX, and continue to do sowith regard to both numbers of participating athletes and numbers of teams (National Coalition for Women
and Girls in Education, 2008).
Finally, Title IX has also been blamed for inspiring feminized curricula and learning environments that disadvantage boys. Proposals for
improving classroom settings for boys learning have included recommendations for sex-stereotyped curricula, and for single-sex schools.
Title IX compliance has, by and large, been driven by lawsuits and
threats of lawsuits. Although the law states that schools in violation of
Title IX will lose their federal funding, since the passage of Title IX in
1972 no school has ever lost federal funding for failing to comply with
the law.
POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS
The debate between socialization and essentialism is still alive in the
minds of Americans and in the pages of academic journals and popular
magazines. Yet it seems that, all in all, more differences in abilities
exist within the sexes than between them. The gap that women face in
earnings and the lower numbers of women in positions of power
within organizations and in certain male dominated elds cannot be
explained away by innate differences based upon sex. These differentials have more to do with expectation, discrimination, family structure (child care issues and the division of labor at home), and lack of
mentoring.
Women in general face more obstacles to career success and
advancement in terms of pay and position than do men. However, this
does not mean that women are helpless victims. Women have more
agency than this; they can demonstrate this by creating positive selffullling prophecies for themselves, and participating in the creation of
better realities. Women must often ght against how they were raised,
and how society views them.
Condence, or the belief in ones ability to succeed, is often associated with privilege. Men working in traditionally male elds possess
privilege and have access to the organizational norms and practices
that are often not made explicit to outsiders. Women face unique
experiences such as this that can interfere with career motivation, performance, and success. In short, a high condence level is a necessary
attribute when individuals are the minority in certain elds (such as
women in the STEM areas). Women working in nontraditional elds
are, oftentimes, already at a disadvantage because they may not be

Gender Differences: The Arguments Regarding Abilities

39

privy to implicit norms and informal networks within the organization.


Condence is a good way to inspire competence and can lead to the
breaking down of stereotypes that still may be held within the organization.
There are many things that women can do to heighten their career
success and thus contribute to the breaking down of stereotypes that
perpetuate the myth that women are somehow naturally less capable
in certain areas; men can also assist in the successful implementation
of these suggestions. It should not be assumed that, in a heterosexual
nuclear family, the mans career should dictate the behavior of others
in the household. The division of labor and care of children should be
based on the needs of all parties involved within the family. If women
have supportive partners who are true partners in the home, then they
will have a greater chance of achieving workplace success (Martin,
2008).
Women must work to value themselves, have high expectations for
themselves (Noonan, Gallor, & Hensler-McGinnis, 2004), and be proactive in managing their own careers. Women must develop an internal
locus of control (Midgley & Abrams, 1974) by attributing ones successes to ones own abilities, and not to mere luck. This is a key to
achieving and maintaining career condence.
Other integral areas that must be rectied in order for gender equity
to occur are the establishment of progressive gender role identities.
Progressive gender roles will assist in the reduction of stereotypes and
negative expectations with regard to gender. There are many ways to
work toward this end: intervene when gender harassment and sexual
harassment are witnessed, report these instances on the organizational
level, and support victims. Concerned individuals must intervene for
the health and well-being of all and for the overall health of the organization (organizational culture) (Miner-Rubino & Cortina, 2004; Welsh,
1999). Finally, we must vote for legislators who value women and who
will ght for laws that promote equity for all people.
Much work still must be done with parents, teachers, and counselors
in their understanding of the danger in adhering to gender based stereotypes and negative self-fullling prophecies. Much work also must
be done with students so that they may realize their individual potential. Interventions are important for girls, parents, and teachers that
will dispel the myths that math and science are more difcult for girls.
Current research ndings in psychology should be communicated to
teachers and parents. Girls and women should be provided with nonsexist academic career counseling. A practical solution, devised by the
Feminist Majority Foundation, is the creation of a public electronic web
listing of all Title IX coordinators. This will provide students, teachers,
and parents with contact information of their local Title IX coordinators, or where they may seek advice and lodge complaints of Title IX

40

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

violations. Such a listing will also assist Title IX coordinators nationwide in the sharing and dissemination of information.
In sum, there are many arguments for and against gender-based differences in ability leading to gaps in achievement. Similar arguments
have been made with regard to race. They are both devised to the
same end: to perpetuate privilege and maintain the status quo. Since
we know that culture inuences biology, it seems prudent to focus
energy on creating systemic change with regard to how we view gender and ability, and in creating interventions to foster gender equity
for both girls and boys.
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Chapter 3

Women in Education: Students and


Professors Worldwide
Susan Basow

Worldwide, women constitute 64 percent of all adults who are illiterate


(United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA], 2005), but there are wide
variations across cultures. In most developed countries, girls and
women actually outnumber their male counterparts on the university
level, whereas in many developing countries, boys outnumber girls
even at the primary school level (UNFPA, 2005). Despite this variation,
gender issues affect the education of girls and women in all countries.
In this chapter, we will examine the status of women in education in
terms of students educational attainment, as well as in terms of the
barriers to gender equity that they encounter in the educational system.
We also will look at the status of women as teachers and professors, as
well as the barriers to gender equity that they confront.
WOMEN AS STUDENTS
The importance of gender equity in education, especially literacy,
cannot be overstated. As the UNFPA (2005) reported, womens educational attainment has benets not only for women themselves (in terms
of more economic opportunities and protection against human immunodeciency virus [HIV]), but also for their society as a whole (in
terms of breaking the cycle of poverty, labor force participation,
engagement in public life, and fewer but healthier children). Yet there
are many barriers to gender equity in education faced by girls and
women, from lack of encouragement or actual restrictions on school
attendance to more subtle forms of gender discrimination within the

44

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

school environment. In this section, we will examine gender differences


in educational attainment, the effects of gender stereotypes and roles,
and the school environment itself.
EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT
According to the 2005 report of the UNFPA, the goal of achieving
gender equity in primary education has been achieved in most countries of the world except Southern Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Western Asia. The countries where fewer than 76 girls are enrolled for
every 100 boys are Chad, Yemen, Central African Republic, Niger,
Benin, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Cote dIvoire, Guinea, and Mali. Among
the factors that have been found to encourage girls to attend and stay
in school are safe transportation, separate toilet facilities, and avoiding
gender stereotyping in the classroom.
Whereas about half of all developing countries have achieved gender
parity at the primary school level, only about 20 percent have done so at
the secondary school level (UNFPA, 2005). Again, the countries with the
poorest record are in Southern Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Western
Asia. The countries where fewer than 76 girls are enrolled for every 100
boys are Benin, Equatorial Guinea, Cambodia, Djibouti, Ethiopia,
Burkina Faso, Niger, Eritrea, Mozambique, Senegal, Gambia, Congo,
Burundi, Lao Peoples Democratic Republic, and India (UNFPA, 2005).
Interestingly, in some developed countries (especially in Latin America
and the Caribbean), girls slightly outnumber boys in secondary school
due to the higher dropout rate for boys (UNFPA, 2005).
At the university level, an even greater disparity between developed
and developing countries emerges. Whereas men greatly outnumber
women in higher education by 92 percent in developing countries,
women actually outnumber men in many developed countries (Charles &
Bradley, 2002; UNFPA, 2005). For example, in the United States in 2006,
women received 58 percent of all bachelors and masters degrees and
almost reached parity with men for doctoral and professional degrees
(National Center for Educational Statistics [NCES], 2005). By 2014, women
are expected to receive the majority of all educational degrees beyond
high school in the United States.
It is important to note that reversal in the gender ratio of educational achievement in the United States and other developed countries
that has occurred over the last 30 years is due to the dramatic increase
in the percentage of women participating in higher education, rather
than to fewer men doing so than in the past. For example, 33 percent
of all U.S. men aged 18 to 24 years old attended college in 1967 compared to 34 percent in 2006. In contrast, only 19 percent of all women
aged 18 to 24 years old attended college in 1967 compared to 41 percent in 2006 (NCES, 2008). A similar pattern has occurred with respect

Women in Education: Students and Professors Worldwide

45

to the attainment of advanced educational degrees: Men have shown a


modest increase, whereas women have shown a more dramatic
increase (NCES, 2005). For example, the number of doctoral degrees
awarded between 2002 and 2003 is projected to increase 19 percent
overall between 2013 and 2014, but 12 percent for men and 28 percent
for women. Thus, the new pattern is less a change in mens educationrelated behavior than a tremendous increase in womens educational
attainment, especially among older women. This reversal of gender
ratios is most likely due to the reduction of barriers to girls and womens educational attainment in many developed countries.
BARRIERS TO GENDER EQUITY IN EDUCATION
Prime among the barriers confronting girls and women worldwide
are gendered roles and expectations. Because of womens reproductive
abilities, womens societal roles must be compatible with childbearing
and nursing (Basow, 1992). In developed countries, where reproductive
choice is emphasized and some societal supports exist for nonmaternal
child-care (even if costly), women constitute nearly half of the paid
labor force (UNFPA, 2005). In developing countries, often with a subsistence or agrarian basis, women are less likely to be in the paid labor
force than are men (UNFPA, 2005). Worldwide, women constitute only
39 percent of all wage and salary workers (UNFPA, 2005). While
underrepresented in the paid labor force, women are overrepresented
in the informal economy, such as agricultural production and market
work, which has little nancial security or social benets (UNFPA,
2005). Women also perform most of the household chores, which, in
developing countries, tend to be very time-consuming, such as collecting fuel and carrying water.
Because of the domestic roles women typically play, womens education has been seen historically as less valuable and important than
mens education (Basow, 1992; Lips, 2008). Even in developed countries, where women constitute nearly half of the paid labor force, womens domestic activities are presumed to be womens main priorities.
Consequently, womens employment options historically have been
limited to jobs compatible with childbearing and child rearing. Such
jobs, such as service and ofce work, typically allow for intermittent
employment and do not require higher education. Most also are low
status and poorly paid. Other traditional female jobs that do require
education beyond high school, such as teaching and nursing, also are
relatively compatible with child-care, as they allow for intermittent
employment and schedules that coincide with those of their school-age
children. These jobs are often viewed as an extension of womens nurturing activities and historically have not been highly compensated.
Even though womens employment options in developed countries

46

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

today are theoretically unrestricted, occupational segregation still


exists, and the challenge of balancing work and family life still disproportionately falls on women (Lips, 2008). Thus, one barrier to gender
equity in education worldwide is the gendered division of labor.
A second barrier to gender equity in education, closely related to
womens societal roles, is gender stereotyping. Cultures vary somewhat
regarding the full range of traits and abilities associated with each gender, but in nearly all cultures, women are more associated with communal traits and men are more associated with agentic traits (Williams &
Best, 1990). Indeed, gender stereotyping is often used to justify the nurturing roles assigned to women, although research suggests that differential social roles actually create gender stereotypes (Eagly & Steffen,
1984). That is, whoever typically cares for children or the elderly is
viewed as nurturant, regardless of gender; and whoever typically works
in high-powered jobs is viewed as active and dominant, again regardless
of gender.
Given their link with adult roles, gender stereotypes also affect educational opportunities. Because boys are assumed to be more active
and aggressive, they typically are educated to assume the leadership
roles in society, whether those roles are in business or politics. The
education of boys, therefore, is given higher priority than the education
of girls, as can be seen in the statistics on school attendance in developing countries. Boys often receive encouragement and training to pursue
the higher-paying and higher-status jobs in a culture because boys are
seen as both more naturally inclined to such work as well as the
more likely breadwinner in a family.
There also are specic academic skills that are gender-stereotyped,
although these vary somewhat cross-culturally. In the United States and
many other developed and developing countries, the elds of math, science, and technology are stereotyped as masculine, while the humanities
and the creative arts (art, music, writing) are stereotyped as feminine
(Charles & Bradley, 2002; Eccles, Jacobs, & Harold, 1990; Nosek, Banaji, &
Greenwald, 2002; Skelton, Francis, & Smulyan, 2006). These trends both
reect and reinforce academic gender typing. Evidence suggests that gender stereotypes of academic subjects affect students academic performance, as well as their career choices. Indeed, in most developed countries,
women are underrepresented in engineering, mathematics, computer science and, to a lesser degree, natural science; they are overrepresented in
education, humanities, and health elds; and there is approximate gender
parity in the social sciences (Charles & Bradley, 2002).
Many people view academic gender stereotypes as based on innate
gender differences in intellectual abilities: that is, boys are considered
innately to have better math and visual-spatial skills, while girls are
considered innately to have better verbal skills and ne-motor coordination. Some neuroscience research supports the idea that gendered

Women in Education: Students and Professors Worldwide

47

patterns in performance on such cognitive tasks may be due to gendered


patterns of brain organization (Berenbaum & Resnick, 2007; Gur & Gur,
2007; Kimura, 1999). However, most researchers (e.g., Haier, 2007; Hines,
2004) note that individual differences typically overshadow gender differences in brain structure and organization. That is, there are larger differences among boys as a group and girls as a group on all these
intellectual tasks than there are between boys and girls. Furthermore,
environmental inuences, both prenatal (e.g., maternal nutrition) and
postnatal (e.g., diet, experience), also affect brain development. In fact,
in cultures where men and women are more equal (e.g., Iceland, Norway, Sweden), the male advantage in math performance disappears,
although the female advantage in reading does not (Guiso, Monte, Sapienza, & Zingales, 2008). Most importantly, gender similarities greatly
outweigh gender differences in cognitive abilities, and what differences
exist typically are small and variable (Hyde, 2005).
Nonetheless, because of gender stereotyping and gender roles, gender often serves as a cue for differential treatment and differential experience both in school and out. One type of differential experience is
based on the gendered curriculum. In many developing countries, girls
and boys are educated differently with different coursework and materials (Skelton et al., 2006; Sohoni, 1995). Indeed, their educational experiences may be completely gender segregated, such as occurs in many
Muslim countries. In contrast, unequal gender-based educational practices have been outlawed in most developed countries since the 1970s.
For example, in the United States a series of laws (e.g., Title IX of the
Education Amendments of 1972, the Womens Educational Equity Act
of 1974, the Vocational Educational Act of 1976, and the Career Incentive Act of 1977) ended the common practices of providing technical
training only to boys, and training in home economics only to girls.
Nonetheless, certain less obvious discriminatory practices remain.
Among the more subtle discriminatory practices is the use of curricular materials that focus on boys and men more than girls and women,
conveying the message that the former are more interesting, dominant,
and important than the latter. Such is the case with primary-schoollevel storybooks, where male characters outnumber female characters
by a ratio of 2:1 or 3:1. Boys and men also are depicted in a wide variety of occupations and activities, while girls and women more often
are portrayed as mothers, bystanders, or in need of help (Diekman &
Murnen, 2004; Gooden & Gooden, 2001). In upper grades, men more
often are the focus of study than are women, whether in regard to history (mainly a chronicle of mens lives in politics and war), literature
(novels, poetry, and essays written by men), or science (great discoveries by men) (Koch, 2003).
Because of gender stereotypes and roles, as well as differential
encouragement by parents and teachers, gender differences in

48

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

academic interests start appearing by high school. In developed countries, more high school boys than girls take computer design and
Advanced Placement (AP) science courses, and more girls than boys
take AP courses in English, biology, and foreign languages (Koch,
2003). (AP courses allow high school students who achieve high grades
on standardized tests to attain college credit for their work.) Vocational
education is highly gender-segregated in virtually all cultures, with
construction, skilled trades, information technology, and engineering
viewed as the province of men; and child-care and hairdressing viewed
as the province of women (Leathwood, 2006). College majors reect
this gendering of academic interests, as well: Women are overrepresented in the humanities, some social sciences (especially psychology),
and biology; men are overrepresented in the physical and computer
sciences, business, and engineering.
Gender messages also permeate the classroom experience of girls
and boys through the interactions they have with their peers and teachers. Peer inuence is a particularly powerful barrier to gender equity in
education. Girls and boys typically grow up in different cultures,
with different language and play styles, different clothes and customs,
and different expectations from adults (Basow, 2008; Leaper & Friedman, 2007; Maccoby, 1998). For example, girls activities, such as playing house, tend to be cooperative and verbal. Boys activities and
games tend to be more competitive and physical. Because of these gendered play styles, girls and boys tend to segregate themselves into
same-gender groups, which further reinforce gendered patterns of play
and behavior.
By ignoring or discouraging play with a child of the other sex, peers
are major enforcers of gendered norms (Bigler & Liben, 2007; Koch,
2003). Peers often police gender-boundary violations by using derogatory language and harassing behaviors toward those who do not completely conform to gender expectations (Basow, 2008). For example,
boys who might be interested in the arts, or girls who might be interested in mechanics, typically get a clear message that their interests are
not gender appropriate. Because boys have a stricter and narrower gender role than girls, boys are more often punished by their male peers
via verbal denigration, physical assault, and social ostracism (Renold,
2006; Wolke, Woods, Stanford, & Schulz, 2001). In a 2001 survey on
sexual harassment conducted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW, 2001), 83 percent of boys reported having experienced unwanted sexual behaviors (including accusations of
homosexuality) during their school years, usually from male peers.
Girls too are pressured to conform to the feminine gender role by
their peers, but because their role is more exible than is boys in the
early grades in developed countries (e.g., girls can wear dresses or
pants, can be athletic or bookish, can be assertive or dependent), the

Women in Education: Students and Professors Worldwide

49

conformity pressures on girls are somewhat less intense than for boys,
at least until puberty (Basow, 2008). It is around this time that the
major imperative for girls in developed countries, to be sexually attractive to boys, intensies. Girls uninterested in boys do risk being called
queer or dyke, but most of the epithets used for girls refer to heterosexual promiscuity (slut, ho). In the 2001 AAUW sexual harassment survey, 88 percent of the girls reported having experienced
such behaviors during their school years, mainly from male peers
(AAUW, 2001). Other research supports these ndings and suggests
that sexual harassment is virtually a universal experience for adolescent girls in coeducational institutions, in the United States and elsewhere (Leach, Fiscian, & Kadzamira, 2003; Leaper & Brown, 2008). A
majority of middle- and high school girls report having been the brunt
of unwanted or inappropriate romantic attention from a boy, having
been the target of unwanted physical contact from a boy, having been
called demeaning names or told an embarrassing or mean joke about
being a girl, as well as being teased about their appearance. Furthermore, at least one in four girls in the United States report having been
teased, bullied, or threatened by a boy (Leaper & Brown, 2008). European American and African American girls report more unwanted sexual attention than do their Asian American and Latina counterparts in
the United States; still, nearly all girls experience at least some of these
harassing behaviors (Leaper & Brown, 2008). In addition to sexual harassment, about 30 percent of girls report having received some type of
academic discouragement about their math, science, or computing abilities from male peers (Leaper & Brown, 2008).
The results of peer sexual harassment are negative for both sexes,
although the negative effects are more intense and pervasive for girls
(AAUW, 2001; Ormerod, Collinsworth, & Perry, 2008). Girls who experience peer sexual harassment, compared to their male counterparts,
report feeling more self-conscious, less condent, and more negative
about their bodies and about school. Girls also are more likely to try to
avoid the harasser and to keep silent in class. Thus, peer harassment is
a major barrier to gender equity in education.
Unfortunately, teacher behaviors often create additional inequities for
girls and women in schools. In some cases, the inequities are quite
overt, such as teachers who either harass female students themselves
or who tolerate peer harassment. In a study at several high schools in
the United States, about half of all school personnel (53 percent) were
found to have sexually harassed female students themselves (Ormerod
et al., 2008). Students in general tended to perceive school personnel as
tolerating such behaviors. Consequently, most female students do not
report incidences of sexual harassment; instead, they are likely to experience lowered self-esteem and withdraw psychologically or physically
from school. In some cultures, there may not even be recognition that

50

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

sexual harassment by teachers or professors is inappropriate and/or


should be punished. For example, in countries with a collectivist orientation, group harmony may be more highly valued than individual
rights. In a cross-cultural study of university students, Sigal and colleagues (2005) found that a professor who had been described in a
written scenario as harassing his female graduate student, was viewed
as less responsible and less guilty of sexual harassment in countries
with a more collectivist orientation (Ecuador, Pakistan, the Philippines,
Taiwan, and Turkey) compared to those with a more individualist orientation (United States, Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands). In all
countries, however, female students were more likely than their male
counterparts to nd the professor guilty.
Teachers also treat their male and female students differently, mainly
by paying more attention to boys than to girls (Duffy, Warren, & Walsh,
2001; Harris, 1997; Meece & Scantlebury, 2006; Sadker & Sadker, 1994).
Teachers greater attention to male students occurs worldwide (Liu,
2006). Although some of this attention is negative (i.e., teachers both
praise and reprimand boys more than they do girls), the result is that
boys tend to dominate classroom interactions. Girls tend to receive
teacher approval mainly for being quiet and compliant. In an observational study of more than 100 fourth-, sixth-, and eighth-grade classrooms
in several communities in the United States, Myra and David Sadker
(1994) found that teachers called on and encouraged girls less often than
they did boys, although they rarely were aware of doing so. This is particularly true in math and science, subject areas gender-typed as masculine (Altermatt, Jovanovic, & Perry, 1998; Jovanovic & King, 1998). Girls
not only do not receive the encouragement given their male peers, but
they may actually receive discouraging comments from teachers related
to their math, science, or computer abilities, perhaps because teachers
tend to believe that boys are more gifted in math and science than are
girls (Ceci & Williams, 2007; Leaper & Brown, 2008; Liu, 2006). Such discouragement is particularly unfortunate since the strongest predictor of
attitudes toward science among high school students is social encouragements from teachers, parents, and peers (Stake, 2006). The lack of social
encouragement may contribute to womens underrepresentation in
math- and science-related careers.
It should be noted that student race and ethnicity also affect teachers gender-related behaviors. The nding that teachers give more
encouragement to male than female students appears predominantly
with White students. Black boys, in particular, appear to be viewed by
teachers in the United States and United Kingdom as having the least
academic potential when compared with White boys and to girls of
both races (Ross & Jackson, 1991; Ward & Robinson-Wood, 2006;
Wood, Kaplan, & McLoyd, 2007). Perhaps this explains the academic
disengagement that occurs among Black boys, who drop out of high

Women in Education: Students and Professors Worldwide

51

school at a higher rate (9.7 percent in the United States) than do White
boys (6.4 percent). Hispanic boys may be even more neglected by
teachers; their dropout rate is 25.7 percent (NCES, 2008). Black girls
also may become disengaged due to lack of teacher attention and discouragement of their typically more verbal and active behaviors (Wilkinson & Marrett, 1985). In 2006, the high school dropout rate was 5.3
percent for White girls, 11.7 percent for Black girls, and 18.1 percent
for Hispanic girls (NCES, 2008). Research conrms that teachers
expectations strongly affect students, especially students from groups
that are academically stigmatized (Blacks and Hispanics, in general,
and girls in math) (McKown & Weinstein, 2002).
On the college level, similar patterns are found. Women college students appear to receive less encouragement than men do for speaking
in class, and they are more likely to be ignored or interrupted by both
peers and professors (Sadker & Sadker, 1994; Whitt, Edison, Pascarella,
Nora, & Terenzini, 1999). The qualities that seem to facilitate more gender equity in the college classroom include a smaller class size, more
feminine-oriented or androgynous subject matter, more classroom
interactions, a more cooperative than competitive atmosphere, and a
more gender-balanced or female-dominant student gender ratio (Brady &
Eisler, 1999).
EFFECTS OF DIFFERENTIAL SCHOOL EXPERIENCES
The barriers to gender equality in education are numerous: different
social roles, gender (and racial) stereotyping of academic abilities, a
male-centered curriculum, peer harassment, and differential teacher
treatment. As a result, girls and boys typically develop different levels
of academic self-condence (Dweck, 1999). Boys in the United States, at
least European American boys, tend to believe in their ability to solve
problems, so they typically attempt and persist at challenging tasks.
Girls are less likely to believe in their ability to gure things out;
instead, girls tend to believe that they either have academic ability or
they do not have it. Thus girls, especially high-achieving ones, tend to
develop more feelings of helplessness when they encounter academic
difculties, and they give up more quickly than do their male counterparts. Girls often feel more valued for being good and for their
appearance than for their intellectual skill. Academic self-condence is
important when attempting and persisting at new tasks. It is in this
area that girls increasingly fall behind boys, even as girls generally continue to attain higher grades. This occurs on the college level as well.
Annual surveys of entering students show that nearly two out of three
men rate themselves as at least above average in academic self-condence, whereas less than one-half of the women make similar ratings
(Sax, 2007).

52

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The gender stereotyping of academic elds by society in general and


teachers in particular may also contribute to differential student condence and achievement. As previously noted, math and science are
perceived as masculine, whereas literature, languages, and the arts
are perceived as feminine. Because people expect to succeed in tasks
that they view as gender appropriate, girls tend to have lower feelings
of self-efcacy in math and science elds than do boys (Dweck, 2007;
Eccles et al., 1990; Sax, 2007). Low expectations of success can lead girls
to become uninterested in those elds and the occupations related to
them. The same is true regarding boys and the humanities. Furthermore, when such gender stereotypes are made salient (e.g., by a
teacher remarking that boys typically are better at math than are girls),
students actual performance can be affected. As numerous studies
have conrmed, when a students gender identity is primed, such as
when she has to write down (or check a box) regarding her gender
before taking a test, her academic performance on a masculine gendertyped task can suffer (Steele, 1997; Steele & Ambady, 2006). For example, female students who are identied as such or who are a numeric
minority in a testing situation perform more poorly on a math test than
male students and than a matched female control group whose gender
identity has not been primed (Inzlicht & Ben-Zeev, 2000). Just taking a
math test in a classroom with boys may elicit girls performance decrement, as found in a study of French middle-school students (Huguet &
Regner, 2007). This stereotype threat phenomenon is robust and occurs
for any group performing a stereotype-related task when a stigmatized
identity is made salient. For example, when Asian American womens
gender identity was made salient, their math performance decreased
relative to a control condition, but when their Asian identity was made
salient, their math scores increased because of the stereotype that
Asians are good at math (Shih, Pittinsky, & Ambady, 1999).
Thus, academic performance and interest can be boosted or
impaired depending upon the stereotyped nature of the task and the
identity that is made salient, and this seems especially likely to occur
for those individuals who identify most strongly with the group in
question (Chavous, Harris, Rivas, Helaire, & Green, 2004; Oswald,
2008; Steele, 1997). In this respect, teachers expectancies and transmittal of academic achievement stereotypes can become prophecies that
students fulll. For example, the stereotype that African Americans are
not as academically competent as European Americans can negatively
affect the academic performance of the former group and can even lead
to disidentication and disengagement with academic achievement in
general (Steele, 1997). The phenomenon of stereotype threat may contribute to the higher high school dropout and lower college attendance
rates of African Americans and Hispanics compared to European
Americans.

Women in Education: Students and Professors Worldwide

53

As noted in the beginning of this chapter, womens education is


critical for the welfare of the woman and her family, as well as her
country. Because of its importance, the elimination of sex discrimination in education and training was a key component of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World
Conference on Women that took place in 1995 (United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, 2007). It remains a central
focus of the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women
(WomenWatch, 2008).
WOMEN AS TEACHERS AND PROFESSORS
Women in front of the classroom also are affected by gender factors
in terms of their representation, their teaching styles, and the reactions
of their students, colleagues, and supervisors.
Representation
In most countries, female teachers are overrepresented in the lower
grades and underrepresented in the higher grades (Gaskell & Mullen,
2006). As with most job categories, the percentage of women decreases as
the status and pay of a eld increases. The teaching jobs with the least status and lowest pay are those in early childhood education, and nine out
of ten of these jobs are held by women (NCES, n.d.). The teaching jobs
with the most status and pay are those in the upper ranks of university
teaching; men disproportionately hold these jobs (75 percent of U.S. full
professors were men in 2007) (NCES, 2008). Jobs in educational administration (principals, superintendents, provosts, university presidents)
reect the same gender hierarchy. In 20032004, women were 56 percent
of U.S. elementary school principals (despite the fact that women constitute 91 percent of the teachers) and 26 percent of secondary school principals (despite the fact that women constitute 55 percent of teachers at this
level) (NCES, 2007). At U.S. colleges and universities, women were only
23 percent of college presidents in 2006, despite the fact that they constitute 41 percent of the professorate (King & Gomez, 2007). Women were
most likely to head 2-year colleges and least likely to head doctorategranting universities (King & Gomez, 2007).
Gender segregation also occurs in terms of eld of study, at least in
most developed countries (Charles & Bradley, 2002). Not only are
women more likely than men to be associated with early childhood
education, but women also are more likely than men to be associated
with the humanities and health elds. In contrast, men are overrepresented in engineering, mathematics, computer science and, to a lesser
degree, natural science. There is approximate gender parity in the
social sciences.

54

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

There has been change over time in the United States; increased
numbers of women have joined educational administration, the professorate, and science elds. For example, in the decade from 1993 to
2003, the percentage of women principals in elementary and secondary
schools increased 10 percent, and the percentage of women teaching in
colleges and universities increased 6 percent (NCES, 2008). These numbers still fall short of gender parity, however. Furthermore, gains by
women in traditional male-dominated careers have not been matched
by increased numbers of men in traditional female-dominated careers,
such as early childhood education and the humanities. Thus, the overall pattern is one of many changes for women in terms of nontraditional career choices but few changes for men. Gender segregation in
eld of study and careers may be particularly difcult to change
because it appears to be based less on beliefs about gender equality
than on beliefs about innate gender differences in abilities and interests
(Charles & Bradley, 2002).
Another barrier to equal representation by women and men in education is the same one affecting women in nearly all occupations: balancing work/family responsibilities (Gambles, Lewis, & Rapoport, 2006;
Ward & Wolf-Wendel, 2004). Because women still are primarily responsible for child-care, employed women with children often are more limited than their male counterparts in terms of time, energy, and overall
freedom to pursue their careers. For example, a recent study of female
Harvard University alumnae who had gone on to attain a doctorate
found that 91.5 percent of those without children were employed fulltime 15 years after college graduation, compared to 65 percent of
those with one child and 57.5 percent of those with two or more children (Jaschik, 2009). Having children did not affect the employment
rates of their male counterparts. Indeed, one of the few careers open to
educated women for many years was grade-school teaching, since such
jobs were fairly compatible with caring for ones own children in terms
of hours. (That is, teachers work pretty much the same hours and number of days that their children are in school.) In higher education, however, time demands are much greater (if somewhat exible), especially
when research and publications are required. Not surprisingly, then,
women are over-represented in more teaching-oriented higher education
positions, while men are overrepresented at major research universities
(American Association of University Professors, 2008). In fact, both
women and men considering academic careers view research universities as not family friendly (June, 2009).
Gendered Teaching Styles
Not only are women and men frequently teaching in different grades,
types of schools, and disciplines, but gender also may affect teaching

Women in Education: Students and Professors Worldwide

55

styles, perhaps in interaction with discipline. Research has found that


men are more likely than women to use a lecture-based teaching style,
whereas women are more likely than men to use a more discussionbased teaching style (Basow & Montgomery, 2005; Brady & Eisler, 1999;
Canada & Pringle, 1995). Some of this apparent gender difference in
teaching style may be due to the subject matter being taught. A lecturebased style may suit the disciplines in which men are overrepresented,
such as the sciences, better than a discussion-based style. Similarly, a
discussion-based style may be more appropriate than a lecture-based
style in disciplines where women have greater representation, such as
the humanities. Still, even when faculty members are matched in terms
of rank and discipline, female faculty still are found to be more studentoriented and to engage students more in discussions than their male
counterparts (Statham, Richardson, & Cook, 1991). In contrast, male faculty appear more likely than female faculty to assert their authority in
the classroom through public reprimands and corrections.
Different teaching styles may appeal to different students. There is
some evidence that female students may particularly appreciate female
professors, as they are more likely than male students to nominate a
female instructor as their best teacher (Basow, Phelan, & Capotosto,
2006), and they frequently rate female professors higher than male
students do on evaluation forms (Basow, 1998). Traditional pedagogical
styles appear to benet male students more than female students
(Gabriel & Smithson, 1990), whereas female friendly styles (such as
those involving more cooperation than competition) benet both sexes
(Johnson, Kahle, & Fargo, 2007; Rosser, 1997). Thus, the increasing
number of women on college faculties may be helping to increase gender equity in college classrooms, and may partially account for the
increased retention of female students in higher education.
Although female faculty seem to be particularly appreciated by
female college students, such is not the case with male college students. The latter are less likely to cite a female faculty member as their
best instructor than would be expected based on the number of female
professors they have had, and they frequently rate female faculty lower
than female students do and lower than they rate male faculty (Basow,
1998; Basow et al., 2006). Given the nature of gender roles (men have
more status than women and masculinity is dened, at least in part, as
not-feminine [Basow, 1992, 2008; Brannon, 1976]), perhaps it is not
surprising that male college students value male faculty more than
female faculty. A similar process is at work with respect to other cultural gures: Boys are less likely than girls to read books or watch television shows or movies with predominantly female main characters,
and they are less likely to cite a female role model as inuential. Girls,
in contrast, watch, read about, and choose role models of both sexes
(Basow, 1992, 2008; Basow & Howe, 1980).

56

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

GENDER BIAS IN EVALUATING WOMEN PROFESSORS


As indicated earlier, female faculty often are perceived and reacted
to differently by their male and female students, whereas male faculty
tend to be perceived and reacted to similarly. Women are marked for
gender in ways men are not, especially when women are in nontraditional roles (such as when teaching on the college level, especially
in such male-associated elds as science and technology). The normative professor is still a man. When a woman is in this role, students
(and others) often note this unusual event by speaking of their female
professor; when their professor is a man, they rarely note his gender.
This marking of gender for women often creates a double bind for
women in higher education: she must meet the expectations both of
being a good professor (e.g., knowledgeable, competent) as well as a
good woman (e.g., warm and nurturant). The overlap between the
stereotypic gender traits for women and the stereotypic professor role
is slight. Thus, female professors walk a narrow line: needing to demonstrate both masculine traits of agency and competence as well as
feminine traits of warmth and compassion. Male professors do not
experience the same double bind since their gender and professional
roles overlap considerably.
These dual (and generally incompatible) sets of expectations for
female professors exemplify role incongruity and can result in biased
ratings by others (Eagly & Karau, 2002). Such gender bias can be discerned in the ways students perceive and evaluate female professors.
While students may appreciate warmth and nurturance in male professors (e.g., Basow, 2000; Basow et al., 2006; Freeman, 1994), men can still
receive high student ratings even if they do not demonstrate such
traits. But for female professors, such traits are required. For example,
research in the United States has found that to receive comparable ratings, it is more important for female professors to be friendly (to smile
and be available) than male professors (Bennett, 1982; Kierstead,
DAgostino, & Dill, 1988). If female professors are not perceived as
warmer/friendlier than their male counterparts, women receive lower
ratings, especially from their male students (Sinclair & Kunda, 2000).
In general, female professors generally do receive higher ratings from
both male and female students on questions relating to facultystudent
interactions and quality, but their overall ratings tend to be similar to
male professors (Bachen, McLoughlin, & Garcia, 1999; Basow et al.,
2006; Basow & Montgomery, 2005; Bennett, 1982).
With respect to grade school and high school, some concern has
been expressed recently that boys poorer educational performance relative to their female peers may be due to the fact that most of their
teachers are women (e.g., Gurian & Henley, 2001; Gurian & Stevens,
2005; Sax, 2005). However, research with nearly 1,000 Australian

Women in Education: Students and Professors Worldwide

57

students aged 12 to 16 years old did not show that boys beneted more
from male than from female teachers (Marsh, Martin, & Cheng, 2008).
In fact, both boys and girls typically had higher self-efcacy in classes
taught by women. Other research also has failed to show a signicant
effect of male teachers on boys behavior or achievement (e.g., Bricheno &
Thornton, 2007, in the United Kingdom), although more research is
needed on this topic, especially in elementary school, where female
teachers typically outnumber male teachers 9:1 (NCES, n.d.).
In summary, women in education are typically overrepresented in
the lower grades and lower-status teaching positions and institutions,
and underrepresented in the highest status positions and institutions.
Within the classroom they often teach in different elds and appear to
be more student-oriented than their male peers. While male professors
are generally perceived and evaluated similarly by their male and
female students, female professors typically receive different ratings as
a function of student gender (and discipline). In general, male students
tend to rate their female professors lower than their male professors,
while female students sometimes do the reverse: rate their female professors higher than their male professors (and higher than their male
peers).

CONCLUSION
In this chapter, we have examined the status of women in education.
As students, girls and women are disadvantaged in several ways. For
example, in developing countries, girls often are not encouraged to
attend school. In nearly all countries, girls are viewed in stereotypic
ways that may restrict and/or shape their educational and occupational potential. Girls are likely to experience both a gendered curriculum as well as sexist treatment from their male peers as well as from
their teachers. These educational experiences may cause girls and
women to doubt their academic abilities and impair their academic
performance, especially in nontraditional elds. Although women in
developed countries currently are matching or surpassing their male
counterparts in terms of educational achievement, their predominant
elds of study still are gendered.
As teachers, women are overrepresented in lower grades and lower
status educational positions, and underrepresented in the higher status
ones. In colleges and universities, women are more likely to use student-focused methods (e.g., discussions, group work) than their male
peers, while their teaching prociency may be more heavily scrutinized. Overall, women professors are marked for gender in ways their
male counterparts are not, a fact that contributes to the heavier burden
they bear to prove their worth.

58

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Chapter 4

In Womens Voices
Samantha Smith

The feminist movement has provided the opportunity for women to


have more choices in their lives. Throughout history, women as well as
men have fought to gain equal rights for women in regard to education, employment, enfranchisement, and relationships. I feel fortunate
that much of the hard work of this movement was completed before
my generation came of age. The benets that I enjoy include applying
to and attending the college of my choice, continuing my education
through graduate studies, and pursuing any career that I wish. So
many important strides have been made for women over the past centuries. Due to some of my own experiences as a young adult, I wonder
about the future of feminism and what aspects of life feminism will
impact.
One of my goals always been to be a wife and mother. I never
thought that this was a lowly goal, nor did I think that other women
might consider it to be so. An early experience in college made me
rethink feminism, as well as the role of a woman in the twenty-rst
century. During a lecture, one of my female professors commented
that no modern woman aspires to being only a homemaker. From this
I inferred that, if you did aspire to homemaking, you would not be
expected to be in her class or to ever attend college. Her comment
made me feel nave, but it also surprised me. I grew up in a household
in which my mother was a homemaker with a masters degree,
and my father had a doctorate. I was raised with the belief that one
should pursue education for its own sake, and that one had the choice
to use education as one desired. Whether that meant as a homemaker/
mother or as a career woman was ones own choice. After years of
discussions with other young women, I realize that many feel that opting for motherhood over a career is seen as a step backward. It is as

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though all that feminism achieved is being undone by this choice, and
that women who only aspire to motherhood are not modern, progressive women. There are other women, of course, on the opposite side of
this argument who feel, as I do, that women should have the choice to
pursue whatever avenue they want.
As I came to the end of my undergraduate studies, my goals
included attending graduate school and pursuing a career in addition
to being a mother. After I complete my studies, I will be confronted
with the dilemma that so many women face. I will be married, starting
a career, and deciding when to start a family. This leads to the question of whether I am going to continue working while raising my children or whether I am going to put my career on hold and be a stay-athome mother while my children are young. Despite the strides that
feminism has made, many women feel the challenge of simultaneously
pursuing a career and raising a family. Feminism has given women the
right to choose, but not all aspects of society have changed to allow
women to follow through with their choices. It is helpful that more
men today are open-minded and are being brought up with the idea
that women are equals and that various domestic duties should be
shared, but I do not feel that this is yet the norm. The feminist movement provided women with more choices, but as a result, many
women feel pressure to perform at the highest level both inside and
outside the home.
In my opinion, feminism still has many areas in which progress is
necessary. Feminism is about helping and supporting each other and
not about discouraging women or making them feel that any of their
life choices are less valuable than others. Some of the issues that need
to be addressed include helping women to balance career and family
and helping them to achieve equal pay and promotion in the workplace. These issues may be advanced through government programs,
such as mandatory daycare in ones place of employment and family
leave. Although society and the government have given women more
rights and choices, a support system must be established so that
women can utilize all of their choices and be free to pursue their goals.

Chapter 5

Working Life as a House: A Tale of


Floors, Walls, and Ceilings
Leanne Faraday-Brash

It may be embarrassing to admit, but I felt validated when I read a broadsheet book review about a quaint little paperback titled Why Women
Shop (Minahan & Beverland, 2005). The short answer to the question of
why women (or men) shop would surely be: to buy something. Undoubtedly, some people would draw the analogous (and simplistic) conclusion
to the question of why women work outside the home. Their response to
that may be: to earn something. And yet just as I learned (and how normalizing it was!) that women shop for a whole raft of reasons that include
the feel-good benet of retail therapy, so do we generate a plethora of
explanations as to why women (choose to) engage in paid work and
begin to contemplate an onslaught of potential barriers, threats, and challenges they meet along the way. Of course with various motives to work
outside the home, it is humbling and important to acknowledge that not
all women believe they have the luxury of a choice to work, or a particular role to accept or decline. Some women may not ever believe they are
afforded the opportunity to set their sights on something as lofty and selfactualizing as a career. However, cant they still boast the right to enjoy
that which may consume their time and energy for over half their waking
hours? Therefore, in the approach I have taken to this chapter, I humbly
acknowledge the need of many women to work through sheer nancial
necessity, the schema and societal inuences that may have shaped some
womens self-limiting beliefs (which should not be seen as any criticism
of those women), and the fact that women who choose to be full time
stay-at-home careers make enormous familial and communal contributions. They are simply not the subject of our conversation.

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I pay tribute to all women who dedicate their lives to full-time


homemaking and caregiving (whether to children or others). For our
purposes here, any reference to women who work does not imply
that women in unpaid work do not do meaningful work, but rather,
the clause women who work is shorthand for women in paid work
outside the home.
At the time of writing this chapter, there was an outcry in France
over the return to work of French Justice Minister, Rachida Dati, ve
days after giving birth (Courcol, 2009). Dati, who is single, rose to
prominence in 2007, when she became the rst politician of North African origin to be appointed to a senior French government post. French
feminists have accused her of being a poor role model to other women
by succumbing to the pressure of the job, her own ambition, and her
fear of being kept out of the loop as reasons offered for why she
must have returned to work so early. Datis decision was scandalous
according to Maya Sturduts, the Head of the National Collective of the
Rights of Women. Womens rights activist, Florence Montraynaud,
compared Dati to working women in the 1920s who gave birth in the
factories and lamented Datis decision, which she claimed would exacerbate the divide between supermoms and wimps in the workforce.
Opposition went further in decrying her actions by saying her decision will put pressure on countless other women who might otherwise
exercise their right to take longer leave of absence, which will then be
used by unscrupulous employers in difcult economic times to disadvantage those women.
One might also imagine, notwithstanding her single status, that Dati
would have had the nancial means, if not direct governmental assistance, to pay for quality child care for her newborn. Should or
shouldnt her decision be one of personal choice? If she has the ways
and means to be able to return to work after childbirth (which after all
is not a disease or illness), should she? Does she automatically raise
the bar for other women and create an unrealistic and unreasonable expectation in employers of other women after childbirth? Is that Datis
responsibility or her problem, and is that fair?
Does the fact that she also happens to be slim and glamorous create
feelings of inadequacy in every woman who doesnt believe they have
earned the moniker of yummy mummy within days of childbirth?
Furthermore, is it reasonable or possibly patronizing to assume that
Dati returned to work so soon, as asserted by the secretary general of
the Planned Parenthood Association, because of the pressure to
defend her standing in Frances male-dominated politics rather than
intrinsic dedication to her work?
In this example of one womans experience and an aftermath of
almost hysterical proportions, we collide with a myriad of issues that
reect the complexity of the demanding context and the psychosocial

Working Life as a House: A Tale of Floors, Walls, and Ceilings

67

aura that surrounds women who work outside the home. If we consider all the research surrounding the psychological devaluation of
women who devote themselves to full-time care giving (Adams, 2008),
we could be forgiven for thinking we are damned if we do and
damned if we dont.
Even in 2009, a woman rising to the top of her profession (particularly a male-dominated profession like the law) appears to acquire an
automatic prole a la Dati. The hopes and aspirations of other women
accompany her wherever she goes and the acerbic judgments and perceptions of men and women seem to follow her every decision and
action.
In this chapter, I would like to reect on the relevant contextual factors
for women working today, explore some of the difculties and barriers
that still challenge us (including some of our own making), and provide
some commentary on the hot contemporary issues for women who work
outside the home. In relation to specic aspects of legislation, change to
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) law and government agency
direction, I will be referencing the Australian context.
MAPPING THE TERRAIN
There are many interesting discourses on the psychology of women
and the issues they face as a longstanding minority group (in sphere of
inuence if not always numbers), and I dont intend to duplicate their
efforts here. One comprehensive and well-written account of womens
lives and issues of particular relevance to women is discussed in
Denmark and Paludi (1993). Some political, social, and cultural markers
would seem to indicate that things are certainly happening, albeit at a
pace best described as painstakingly slow.
WORKFORCE PARTICIPATION AND EARNING PARITY
It is an all too common indictment of the gender gap that women in
Australia are paid 85 cents in every male wages dollar, and the Australian disparity is typical of other Western countries. Australian Bureau
of Statistics (ABS) (Ofce for Women, 2009; ABS, 2005) data suggested
that on average, hourly earnings of full-time males and females (allowing for the exclusion of overtime) are $30.41 and $25.87, respectively.
This is an earning ratio of 85 percent, which has narrowed by around 4
percentage points over the last decade. The original compelling metaphor of the glass ceiling was coined to describe this gap in earnings
between the genders (Wirth, 2002). The gender-wages gap has long
been considered a powerful and telling metric by which to analyze
gender inequality. The existence of a gap reects two discriminatory
phenomena; women being paid less money to do the equivalent job of

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maleseven in the same pay scale women can start at the bottom of
the scale while men are paid at the middle or the topand, women
tend to dominate the so-called pink jobs (i.e., secondary labor market
job roles that reect gender stereotypes in male-dominated societies
because they are seen to echo domestic responsibilities, (e.g., librarianship, nursing, teaching, secretarial).
These roles are remunerated at a lower level than the so-called
blue-collar jobs (manual labor requiring technical ability and
strength) or white collar (e.g., salaried professionals like engineers,
accountants, lawyers, some managers) with the latter roles regarded as
being higher in complexity and accountability (Fontenot, 2007). Nevertheless, not all disparity can be accounted for by the differential complexity of these jobs or the higher percentages of women working
part-time.
Despite the remarkable changes in recent labor market structure,
women in 2001 held just 1.3 percent of the top management positions
in the largest Australian companies (Kee, 2006) According to the Annual Report of the Government Equal Opportunity for Women in the
Workplace Agency (EOWA), only two of the top 200 companies were
chaired by women and just four had women chief executives (EOWA,
2004).
Over the past few years, more women in Australia pursued tertiary
study than men. It is reported that 51.7 percent of professionals with
bachelors degrees in 2005 were women (Kee, 2006), and that is on the
rise. According to a professional survey in 2008 by Beaton Consulting,
women now comprise over half the graduates in accounting yet
account for less than 15 percent of accounting rm partners. While one
would not expect the numbers entering the profession at the bottom
end to reect in leadership composition at the top end overnight, the
persisting differential is hard to ignore. Similarly, the percentages of
women at lower job classications in banking and nance (e.g., tellers)
is high yet numbers of senior women in banking and nance is still
very low. These ndings underscore the slow tortuous progress in equity experienced by women on two distinct fronts. We see systemic
discrimination, which perpetuates the cycle of disadvantage for minority groups including women and/or women can vote with their feet
and elect not to pursue senior positions in sectors or companies that
appear to them to be so inhospitable toward women.
Thus we can see a duality of disadvantage where women are involuntarily blocked and/or potentially self-select out of what they believe
will be a working life lled with unacceptable challenges once they do
the sums on the payoffs and penalties. In our discussion on ceilings,
oors, and walls later in the chapter, the glass ceiling and the maternal
wall are representations of the rst phenomenon, and the sticky oor,
the second.

Working Life as a House: A Tale of Floors, Walls, and Ceilings

69

WOMEN WITH POWER: THE VISIBILITY OF WORKING


WOMEN
Several watershed appointments in the past ve years would appear
to indicate that female representation at the top echelons of government and business in Australia is clearly on the rise. The Australian
federal election in 2008 precipitated a change in government and the
appointment of Julia Gillard to deputy prime minister. Indeed at the
time of writing this chapter, our new prime minister (PM) was so busy
forging ties with key governments and opinion leaders overseas that
Gillard was at the helm for over two months in the PMs rst year in
ofce (69 days according to The Australian Newspaper, November 2008).
While the former conservative government had been in power for over
10 years, no woman had risen to such prominence, and people were
generally critical of that governments failure to bring about tangible
equality in providing paid maternity leave, assigning women ministerial positions in large and complex government portfolios, and addressing pay inequity and government sponsored child-care; the latter two
regarded as critical success factors in the ght for gender equality (Broderick, Burrow, & Ridout, 2008).
Notwithstanding public acceptance of her candidacy for her parliamentary seat and subsequent appointment to a super Ministry of
three portfolios, Gillard (2007), who faced unprecedented media attention for being childless by choice, said in a television interview:
I think women are still making their way into politicsobviously a lots
changed for women but theres still a few things to change still. . . . that
theres been more attention on private life questions for me than perhaps
male politicians. . . . I think that one of the problems for women is that
historically theres been no right answerif you dont have kids, then
people say you cant understand everyone elses life experience, and if
you do have kids, then people say whos looking after the kids while
youre doing all of this. (Interview with Channel 7 Network)

Other notable appointments were directorships for women in large


public companies including the national airline, Qantas, CEO appointments in government agencies and private organizations, a woman
governor general (who had previously headed up the Federal Sex Discrimination Commission), and the biggest in my mind, the appointment of Christine Nixon, a woman from the state of New South Wales
as chief commissioner of police for the state of Victoria in 2001. However, it is fair to say that these stand out because they were the exception rather than the rule. Board representation in Australian companies
stands at a disgraceful 10.9 percent notwithstanding broader representation of women at middle and upper management and down from 12
percent in 2006 (Medd, 2008). As already mentioned, women still earn

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85 cents in every male dollar across all sectors, and workforce participation rates among women between 25 and 44 years is one of the lowest in OECD countries (Abhayaratna & Lattimore, 2006) even after
adjusting for variances in statistical practices. The Human Rights and
Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) blames that in large part on
problems with child care and the absence of taxpayer-funded maternity
leave and other measures to support primary careers.
WOMEN AS CONSUMERS
Interestingly, women in the almost identical age bracket (25- to 40year-olds) are the fastest-growing Australian wealth demographic and
are being targeted for potential sales growth (Young, 2008). Furthermore, the proliferation of new businesses of small and medium size is
attributable predominantly to women. In a study commissioned by a
major non-bank lender (Wizard Home Loans, 2006), women declared
they were the home managers in 93 percent of cases, that one-third
made decisions on nance loans and other nancial products entirely
on their own, and that in 61 percent of cases they were joint decision
makers on big home nancial decisions.
Women are becoming a consumer force to be reckoned with. However, interest in nancial planner seminars on how to attract the female
dollar are spawned by the recognition of business opportunity; not necessarily underpinned by sincere moral and feministic attempts to right
the injustices of the past. There are still a lot of obstacles to women
achieving their potential, including structural barriers to workforce participation and therefore to nancial independence. Women now ofcially
number just under half the Australian workforce (45 percent) (ABS,
2007), but sheer numbers dont tell a story of equity and access unless
we look at the proportion of women in an organization vertically. In
other words, if the numbers of men and women in an organization are
exactly balanced but the vast majority of positions at the top end of
organizations are occupied by men, then we have achieved equity of
access (to work) but not equity of outcomes (to workplace opportunities). Most human rights commentators agree it is happening but far too
slowly despite almost three decades of an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) regime that outlaws discrimination on gender grounds.
WOMEN AND EEO LAW
Australia has a 25-year history of gender (sex) discrimination legislation at the federal level, and for the most part the legislation has served
them well. The federal Sex Discrimination Act (SDA) was passed in
1984 and outlaws direct and indirect discrimination on the basis of
gender, marital status, pregnancy, potential pregnancy (being female

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71

and perceived to be of childbearing age), and career status/family


responsibilities. The overarching principle has been one of meritocracy:
the best person for the job on objective job-related criteria. Australia
resisted mandating Afrmative Action in the form of positive discrimination, quotas, or even targets but organizations (particularly mid to
large size) are expected to demonstrate by way of formal and regular
reports to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency
(EOWA) what they are doing to eliminate the barriers to women at
work, such that, they may enjoy access to workplace opportunities
(assuming they are the most suitable candidate for that opportunity).
That is not to say individual organizations do not elect to go beyond
the minimum requirement and actively promote those of minority
group status. The pervasive long-term doctrine has been merit-based
selection. In an era of rampant gender discrimination, the merit principle was undoubtedly a clear, fair, and unequivocal stance, but it didnt
stop organizations giving a potential job applicant the standard line
There was another applicant more suitableand seemingly getting
away with it. The law (and organizational policies emanating from it)
did, however, empower any would-be complainant to demand an explanation for decisions made, and it has undoubtedly resulted in more
rigorous, transparent, and legally defensible processes over time. What
an examination of this system some twenty-plus years on would suggest is that many working women may enjoy better access, but as per
the selection example just given, not necessarily equality of outcomes.
At the time of writing, state EEO legislation is exploring the notion
of positive obligations on the part of employers as a way to achieve equity. There is a growing perception that EEO law, and specically the
merit principle, have not done enough and that what has been
achieved has come too slowly. Comprehensive, ethically motivated,
and articulate policies mounted behind perspex on the walls of lavishly
appointed board rooms wont count for anything if cowboy gatekeepers, committed to preserving the status quo, are allowed to perpetuate
systemic disadvantage of minority groups with no fear or experience
of actual consequences.
It is the culture of organizations that have found informal, often systemic, ways to hold women back that has been our less obvious problem. The SDA also covers sexual harassment, which goes beyond
unfair disadvantage of women (and men) at work in respect of workplace opportunities like promotion, pay, and benets but to how they
are treated in the context of their work. Interestingly, there have been
two iterations to this legislation. Australia witnessed a watershed when
changes were made on the 10th anniversary of the Sex Discrimination
Act that encompassed a shift in the denition of sexual harassment.
With the advent of the legislation in 1984, complainants had to
argue that they suffered adverse impact in their jobs by rejecting the

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unwelcome attention of alleged sexual harassers, or believed they


would, in order to have a sexual harassment complaint substantiated.
With the legislative changes in 1994, the denition of sexual harassment changed to unwelcome attention of a sexual nature that offends,
intimidates or humiliates someone or makes the workplace unpleasant. Thus, women and men did not have to experience unlawful
workplace discrimination in rejecting the unwelcome attention. They
simply had to feel emotionally or psychologically put upon. This not
only marked a shift in employee relations legislation but effectively in
human rights.
The re-interpretation of the legislation heralded an important shift
from viewing inequity (i.e., differential treatment) in the workplace as
a function of unlawful direct or indirect disadvantage to issues of culture and the psychosocial elements of work relationships. Because the
vast majority of people who hold senior positions in organizations are
men, that the subordinate roles are commonly occupied by women (see
earlier discussion on pink jobs vs. blue and white jobs), and considering sexual harassment is often an abuse of power, it is not surprising
that consistently over 90 percent of complaints made in a jurisdiction
on sexual harassment have been made by women against men. Structural barriers to opportunities clearly limit opportunities, but the issue
of hospitable or alienating culture (as demonstrated by unwelcome
behavior, including sexual behavior) will also create perceptions that
will in turn drive behavior. If the belief held by senior men in a consulting engineering rm is that female applicants wont t in to their
culture and they then disregard the applications from women, few if
any women will have the chance to prove them wrong in their workplace. Thus, gender balance will remain skewed. However, women
who perceive they will get a raw deal in such workplaces, hear anecdotally of other women being given a hard time, observe poor gender
balance, or hear hostile sexist comments will likely vote with their feet
when opportunities arise. Other women down the track, contemplating
whether or not to work there, may conclude organizational culture is
indeed a cowboy culture as evidenced by the poor gender ratio of
professional staff or a persisting gender wages gap, therefore declining
offers and maintaining the status quo. The same distaste for inhospitable or backward culture may also inuence womens decisions to
remain employees or go out on their own as small business owners. It
may well impact their decision to return to work after maternity leave
with all the associated advantages afforded the organization that
doesnt have to start all over again. It may and does also impact womens decisions to have children and/or delay starting a family.
This has compounded implications for some as they delay until such
time as they believe they have established themselves professionally
only to discover they encounter fertility problems. In this argument, we

Working Life as a House: A Tale of Floors, Walls, and Ceilings

73

see the difference between the glass ceiling, where disadvantage and
unfair treatment morph into each other but are perpetrated by others, to
what we might refer to as the sticky oor, where the fears and apprehension of women, combined with the goals they want to achieve, are
best addressed by other means (e.g., becoming small independent homebusiness owners). In this paradigm, even if opportunities present themselves, women may elect not to pursue them.
GLASS CEILINGS
As noted earlier, the so-called glass ceiling is a powerful metaphor for invisible yet actual barriers to the ascendance of women in
workplaces, often reected and measured by a gender wages gap that
can not be accounted for by number of hours worked or job complexity. Thus, the glass ceiling attests to the inequity of outcomes, not just
access, for women at work. Moreover, the notion of a glass ceiling
implies that the barriers are extrinsic to the hopes and aspirations of
those women and are enacted and enforced by others in positions of
power (presumably men). The barriers may come in the form of spoken and unspoken barriers to entrywomen need not applyand/
or unspoken barriers to advancement. The barriers come in the form of
gender-based roles with differential income earning potential and the
complementary devaluing of pink jobs nancially and societally.
(For a fascinating discourse on the devaluing of motherhood, see Crittenden, 2001.) The barriers can be measured quantitatively in the form
of differential pay more than fty years after the 1951 International
Labor Organization (ILO) convention mandating equal pay for work of
equal value was ratied and the barriers can represent indirect blockages to advancement in the form of restricted/differential access to
training, coaching, and mentoring.
More subtle factors are also at work here, which may involve more
than the conscious rejection of everything female or feminine by male
powerbrokers. The reality is that business organizations are typically
still male-led and are dominated by male culture and assumptions.
Corporate language is often competitive, even ruthless: idioms are
based on sport and war, deals are made on the golf course, corporate
boxes at the tennis are legitimate business expenses, and men receive
informal mentoring and support and they know it.
In the early 1990s, working as a senior consultant with a major Australian Bank, I was struck by how many times other women there told
me how my story inspired them. There was nothing terribly remarkable about my story as far as I was concerned except that I had a middle-management position in a bank and several children. I think it did
occur to me when I was pregnant with my third child that perhaps I
was somewhat of an anomaly for the bank when they told me they

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didnt have a policy provision on what would happen with my company car when I went on maternity leave. I was told they would have
to go away and consider it. When I asked for clarication they told me
they had never had a woman at my level that was still of childbearing
age, had actually decided to have a baby, intended to take maternity
leave, and actually return. As I tried to determine whether women at
my age didnt tend to hold such positions, or didnt have babies or
didnt come back after babies, I was told the answer was all of the
above.
It was certainly the case that some women rose to the position of
chief manager in the bank at that time, but every one of them resigned
within a year citing lack of acceptance at best or downright sabotage at
worst. The culture was relentless in its expectation of these women
(almost all of whom were single and driven) or ruthless in the exclusion or harassment these women experienced, yet the bank continued
to pat itself on the back for their appointment. It appeared to me even
then that there were few overt suggestions these women werent competent, far more so that they simply werent welcome.1
Women face other difculties that may be partially explained by
gender attribution theory (Wagner, Ford, & Ford, 1986). Behavior of
the respective genders is perceived and labeled differently. Assertive
men are nagging women; strong, decisive results-oriented women
can be referred to as ball breakers. A tough negotiation stance can
be perceived as aggressive. In addition, women who are comfortable
with their femininity are often seen by other women to be exploiting it
to get ahead. With that phenomenon we observe alarmingly that
women can be just as tough on other women, thus buying in to the
male conspiracy. The archetypal feminine values reect a socialization of women taught to t in, collaborate, be nice, to be not pushy
nor to sound their own trumpet. Even if they do, some women sanction them for breaking the unspoken rule of equality (Peltier, 2001).
Karina Butera, an Australian sociologist, has done extensive research
into intergender conict among women and concludes that women surveyed typically said they would rather work with men and that interpersonal conict at work was their major source of stress (Butera,
2008). One biological explanation is that to ensure the survival of the
species, women must gravitate toward men, not women. However,
most of Buteras research points to psychosocial explanations for
female intragender conict. Butera adds that women do tend to be
other-oriented and can go out of their way to avoid upsetting others.
However, given they legitimately need reection and emotional release,
they may speak to others about negative feelings rather than directly
address the party with whom they have an issue. Men expressing anger or frustration as they feel it are often described as straight
shooters or using the Australian idiom, they call a spade a spade

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75

(or a spade a shovel if theyre very direct!). Thus, women in their gender-based behavior can reinforce unsavory stereotypes among men and
other women as bitchy, dishonest (i.e., indirect), or irrational.
If we postulate that masculine traits are still heavily valued in
organizations but only if exhibited by men, women are caught in a
double bind; wanting to be taken seriously, expected to get results but
judged harshly for adopting male mores.
This pressure or even deep-seeded value to be nice does not
explain why some women can be so hard on other women. It is also
not easy to determine whether women displaying masculinized
behaviors ascend in organizations because of it or feel pressured to
adopt such behaviors in order to stay there. However, in an era where
women have been the pervasive minority for so long at senior levels in
organizations, one could intuitively hypothesize that consciously or
unconsciously women might see other women as their competition for
choice roles and business opportunities.
It has often been said that the wise executive will nurture, mentor
others, and succession plan to free himself or herself for even bigger
and better things. But this takes a degree of security and emotional
intelligence that may be lacking in those consumed with what I will
call the scarcity mentality. It is as if those women looking around
the deck on the Titanic and seeing that iceberg approaching believe it
is the other women in the executive boardroom who are really competing for the few working life rafts available on the ship. This could be
further exacerbated with a gender neutral but powerful cultural norm
that rewards competitive behavior as people scramble over each other
to get to the top.
Whatever the reasons for any women treating women badly, some
feminists will say weve had men to do that for centuries. Is it fair to
expect more of women by virtue of their attribution as naturally collaborative and harmonizing? One sobering reality is that gender attribution theory as portrayed here judges womens language, style, and
behavior by a double standard. It is not fair and just to judge them by
a second; a higher moral plane than that by which men might be
judged. In the past few months as the global economic crisis has seen
businesses crumble and the spotlight has turned sharply on executive
remuneration, I do not recall reading or hearing anything that blights
the entire population of men in business.
The minority of women who treat women badly are responsible to
themselves and accountable to the organizations that hire them. People
treating other people badly at work is not a gender-based issue but rather
a cultural one. As Butera says, gone are the days when we had to ght
for the attention of cavemen (to procreate). Women can push hard
against the glass ceiling, use the best of their feminine and masculine traits
and build strong, constructive relationships and strategic networks.

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At the end of the day, the most thriving organizations I have seen
are those in which emotional intelligence, meritocracy, empathy, visionary leadership, and social conscience are practiced and afrmed.
Furthermore, they are cultures in which bad behavior, whether it be
indirect destructive communication, bullying or unethical treatment of
other staff is actively disincentivized and if it is committed, is both
called and consequenced. Women and men should be able to
thrive in organizations where all are genuinely afrmed for their contribution to their organization and where collective pride in what they
do and why they do it is found in shared purpose and discretionary
effort akin to being a corporate religion (Kunde, 2002).
Putting aside issues (and double standards) around acculturated
behavior, Peltier (2001) claims that women face an additional challenge,
which is that women usually do not get second chances. He argues
that women are given less scope to experiment and err in the learning
process and that after the rst big mistake, instead of being given the
benet of the doubt, they are out the door. Couple this with the selfresponsibility many women feel to pave the way and pioneer for other
women (that other-orientation), and you could forgive women for deciding the challenges are insurmountable and the risks just not worth taking.
THE STICKY FLOOR
Let us acknowledge there are self-imposed limitations on women
who could achieve more in work and career but decline opportunities or
elect not to pursue them at all. I would prefer to distinguish this phenomenon as the sticky oor as opposed to the glass ceiling (Kee,
2006). Many times, well-intentioned and egalitarian senior male clients
rue the decisions of female staff when those women decline to be interviewed for more senior positions. The same males are often frustrated
and shocked when they hear these competent women expressing a lack
of condence in their own ability to meet the demands of the job. Some
of these sincere and supportive males comment on the fact that they
have never heard a male applicant express apprehension about the possibility of letting (his) team down. Indeed these feministic men have
reected on how often they nd themselves seeking to lower the expectations of male applicants who feel the next step up is their birthright. In
interviewing so many working women over many years, I have found
their reluctance to set their sights higher usually stems from one or more
realistic concerns. First, they voice some doubt they will be seriously
considered for the job and dont want the humiliation of a tokenistic
recruitment exercise (thus concerns about a glass ceiling). Second, their
perceptions may be that the culture that exists in that upper echelon will
be inhospitable, and their attempts at success may be/will be thwarted
or sabotaged (referencing the notion of the sticky oor keeping them

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77

where they are). Third, they feel they have seen and heard enough about
the pressures on those performing in those roles to believe the demands
are unrealistic and incompatible with their family obligations (thus the
existence of a maternal wall) with real or imagined consequences
keeping them where they are as soon as they commit the seemingly ultimate crimemotherhood (Sachs & Painton, 1993).
THE MATERNAL WALL
Yes, weve come a long way from the days where a woman working
for the government or as a teacher got married and received two gifts
in the forms of a wedding present from all the staff and termination of
her employment. This strategy was, no doubt, deemed to be the ultimate in practical workforce planning, as organizations would not have
to worry nervously about whether or not the married woman in question might disrupt the workplace with a pregnancy and subsequent absence. The organization was proactive in terminating her employment
before she and her new partner could get a twinkle in their eyes.
While it is clearly unlawful to discriminate against any woman
today on pregnancy or potential pregnancy (assuming she could perform the inherent requirements of the job), the law can scarcely monitor the cultural or psychosocial backlash against the woman who
seemingly commits the ultimate career slap in the face and decides to
have a baby. In some cases that is clearly observed to be the ultimate
in ungracious behavior, and the men (and women) whove taken that
risk on them, only to have it blow up in their faces may demonstrate
their displeasure. A landmark case in Australia in 1998 went the way
of the complainant, Marea Hickie, who had attained partnership with a
law rm Hunt and Hunt and found as she returned from maternity
leave that the majority of her big les had been handed on to someone
else (their concern was that she wouldnt be able to cope) and that she
had ostensibly been demoted. She was awarded damages in the
Human Rights Commission and subsequently went on to attain partnership in another rm (Hickie v. Hunt & Hunt, 1998).
In one sense, the maternal wall is a synthesis of the glass ceiling and
the sticky oor where the demands of the job and/or the culture are
fundamentally inhospitable to women with children. It could mean
their status as mothers is obstructing opportunities and/or they are
reluctant to seize them. A woman may be discriminated against and be
directly or indirectly undermined in the role because she has a child or
may be harassed by those who pay out on her lack of commitment
because she refuses to work ridiculous hours. As in the case of Hunt
and Hunt an organization can assign sexy high-prole projects/les
elsewhere citing work/life balance as their excuse to give the plum
opportunities to others. Management may simply assert the working

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mother is not a team player because she wont stay back on Friday
night for drinks with the others or show enthusiasm for residential
retreats and overseas conferences. However, the woman seeing this
played out in front of her may not take this lying down. She can and
may make changes. In the research discussed in a Time Magazine article
by Andrea Sachs, 53 percent of almost one thousand Harvard graduates said theyd changed their jobs or specialties because of family
responsibilities, and 25 percent of female Harvard MBAs had bugged
out of the workforce completely. This is alarming if one considers that
Harvard MBAs may have been more empowered and had more attractive choices and better earning capacity than some other women. On
the other hand, it is also possible the Harvard grads believed their
qualications would open all doors (excessive Harvard hubris?), and
they became more frustrated and disappointed sooner than most.
Such can be the fear of the maternal wall that women may delay or
abandon starting a family until they have got to a place (job and/or career) that they believe will make them seemingly impervious to the
threat of the wall. Wheeler (2005) refers to them in her studies as
postponers as opposed to early deciders; the latter who are distinguished as making the decision not to have children independently of
whether or not they are or arent in a relationship and how their partner feels about their decision.
Wheelers study is interesting because the widely held view is that
women will remain childless by choice almost exclusively because of
the maternal wall. Wheeler found that while this was certainly true for
many, and work was a strong driver, a distinct and substantial percentage of women expressed negative sentiment about the motherhood role
and the impact of potential motherhood on a range of life aspects. In
2002, the percentage of Australian women who would not have children was 24 percent, with an estimated 7 percent having fertility problems and the remaining 17 percent making the choice. Researchers are
agreed this gure will rise (ABS, 2002).
According to the fourteenth annual report on pregnancy and childbirth in Australia released by the Australian Institute of Health and
Welfare (AIHW) National Perinatal Statistics Unit, over 40 percent of
births in 2004 were to rst-time mothers, who, at an average age of 28
years were about two years older than their 1991 counterparts. Mothers
aged 35 years or older made up 12.5 percent of new mothers in 2004,
compared with 6.9 percent in 1995 when the average age of rst-time
mothers was 26.5 years.
Fertility specialists are in high demand. Assisted pregnancies and in
vitro fertilization (IVF) are booming industries in this country. Having
babies while single has been destigmatized to a degree, and same-sex
couples are accessing assisted reproductive technologies via recent
changes to legislation.

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79

The maternal wall can be no more than a perception based on culture


and observed practice, but the maternal wall may be built of structural
inhibitors to active participation including roles at senior levels. In Australian Equal Opportunity Law there are but two defenses to unlawful
discrimination. The lesser one is the defense of unjustiable hardship;
that is, the accommodations one might have to make for a person of minority group status are claimed to be unaffordable. Clearly, if this were
relevant, it would only apply to small-ish businesses and would be hard
to substantiate on purely gender grounds. The second and more substantive justication for discrimination is the operational requirements
of the business or the inherent requirements of the job. Lack of
workplace exibility, narrow minded and rigid obstinacies about a
requirement for workers in certain positions to work full-time can make
it impracticable, even untenable, for women to pursue certain opportunities. In the context of otherwise agrant gender discrimination the male
or female manager may use the requirement of full time in a given role
as a pretext to exclude women with family responsibilities or those
inferred to be potentially pregnant.
The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
(HREOC) continually cites paid maternity leave and exible work practices as the two most enabling of all policies/instrument to create better access and opportunities for women. The focus on paid maternity
leave has raged for some years, with different organizations putting
idiosyncratic policies in place on an enterprise basis. Indeed some
organizations are adamant that not only do their exible work practices
improve retention and morale, they serve as a heavy-duty competitive
advantage in a tight and shrinking labor market where the attraction
and retention of talent rules as the number one organizational imperative. They have moved along a continuum that began with a commitment to equity (of access and opportunity), to diversity, to social
responsibility to strategic opportunity (David Morgan, n.d.).
While there will be a number of sociological and other variables to
account for the demographic shifts and not all roads lead to the fear of
the maternal wall, the desire to exercise different choices has most certainly been catalyzed in large part by (a) the removal of barriers to
womens participation in the workforce and (b) growing consciousness
of the right to enjoy not just nancial income or independence but
enduring careers; something which should be the province of both
men and women.
A FINAL WORD ON SOCIETAL EXPECTATIONS
AND WORK/FAMILY CONFLICT
Some women would argue that while doors to workplaces have
opened, there has not been a corresponding decrease in pressure to

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maintain standards in parenting, maintain the home, entertain and


remain sexually active. So are we now free to do it all and have it all
as long as we dont drop the ball on anything else? The highly accessible world of womens magazines, YouTube, and talk shows places
enormous emphasis on body image, healthy eating, working out, gourmet food preparation, and agelessness. It can seem as if were expected
to have the gure and athleticism of Lara Croft Tomb Raider while
holding down the job as World Vision CEO (or nd extra time to do
unpaid humanitarian work), be able to entertain like Nigella Lawson,
and raise perfect well-socialized children with Mensa IQs. To top it off,
we have to achieve that within three weeks of giving birth to them
(Google the yummy mummy phenomenon). I think I would rather
just concede that Angelina wins.
The old adage suggests that a picture creates a thousand words, but
it may be more helpful here to reect on the way in which a few
words may tell a big (and controversial) story. While often the stuff of
humorous sisterhood weekends away, nights out with the girls, and
comic emails doing the rounds, the choice of language used by men
and women says a lot about their mental models (Senge, 1990/2006).
While these stories are anecdotal, it is not uncommon to hear working
women talk about male partners who do or dont help around the
house (as the case may be!). Related to this are the comments from
other women who, on establishing that their friends have partners who
share the unpaid work in the home, tell their friends they are lucky.
The language used would appear to indicate that this is womans work
and they are either fortunate (or not) that partners assist them in this
unpaid work. Again anecdotally, one can hear women and men say
that their menfolk are babysitting (not parenting?) the children that
night while women go out.
A recent study of interviews with 21,000 people by the U.S. Department of Labor (2009) found that working women on average spent one
hour more per day in housework and caring for family members than
men while men spent approximately one hour more per day at work.
In percentage terms the areas in which women and men differ the
most in hours at work can be accounted for by the part-time status of
some women surveyed but the biggest discrepancy in the study was in
relation to unpaid work.
Increasingly, research is being devoted to the struggle with juggle
(Faraday-Brash, 2006) or work-to-family conict being the extent to
which work imposes itself on life at home (eg the helicopter parent/
the latchkey child), but more recently, has included the pressure of
family-to-work conict also (Duxbury, 2003). Statistics show that adult
women are more vulnerable to depression than adult men. Thus, while
the prevalence of depression is only one measure of health, increased
access for women to work, better pay, and career advancement doesnt

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81

automatically mean they will travel well. The happiness movement has
discovered a lot about what contributes to health and well-being, and
if women believe they can have it all rather than have it most, they are
potentially doomed to abject disappointment (as well as accusations of
delusional thinking).
Regretfully, it seems clear we are still a long way from World Peace,
but we can work on achieving a better form of inner peace. Dening
our goals and being purposeful, negotiating for what we want, looking
after other women and helping them be successful, afrming men who
support our successes, furthering our own cause by refusing to succumb to age-old stereotypical versions of ourselves, and realistically
appraising what is possible based on real needs and values will be the
things that help get us there.
Even if we move beyond equity of access at work to tangible equality
of outcomes, it is humbling to remember that a persons identity is not
dened solely by their work, nor could we say that factors outside the
workplace will have no bearing on a persons status at work. What is
possible for women at work is merely an extension of, or adjunct to,
the societal context in which women live. Indeed, a holistic approach is
required to ensure womens standing in society is elevated.
I was lucky enough to grow up in an era where women started to
appreciate they could have it most. Exercising self-responsibility and
owning the choices we make demonstrates the emotional intelligence
we want everyone to demonstrate. My daughters truly believe they can
have it all. Life may not quite live up to that version of utopia, and
there may always be a struggle with juggle, but the will to strive is a
big part of what makes us human and ironically, being human is not
gender-specic.
NOTE
1. Interestingly and heartwarmingly, the bank was headed up the past ten
years by a most visionary and compassionate egalitarian leader, and engagement in the same organization under vastly different leadership would be the
envy of all other major Australian banks.

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Adams, J. (2008). Womens place is in the home: The ideological devaluation of
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Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2002). Australian social trends 2002. Cat.
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Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2005). Trends in the gender pay gap. Cat.
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Duxbury, L., & Higgins, C. (2003, October). Work-life conict in Canada in
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Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency. (2004). Annual report.
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http://hercules.gcsu.edu.
Hickie v. Hunt & Hunt. (1998). Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOCA) 8.38. 2008.
Kee, H. J. (2006). Glass ceiling or sticky oor: Exploring the gender pay gap.
Economic Record, December, pp. 408-427.
Kunde, J. (2002). Corporate religion. London: United Kingdom: Financial Times/
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Medd, R. (2008). Still no cracks in the glass ceiling. Retrieved October 30, 2008,
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Minahan, S., & Beverland, M. (2005). Why women shop: Secrets revealed. Qld:
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Senge, P. (1990, 2006). The fth discipline. New York: Doubleday/Currency.


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Wagner, D., Ford, R., & Ford, T. (1986). Can gender inequalities be reduced?
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Wheeler, J. (2005). Decision making styles of women who choose not to have children.
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Wirth, L. (2002). Women in management: Closer to breaking through the glass
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Chapter 6

Women as Religious Leaders:


Advances and Stalemates
J. Harold Ellens

The history of women in religious ministries is an odyssey of ts,


starts, and regressions; of spectacular successes and pitiful failures.
This is true of all faith groups and particularly of all of the various iterations of Judaism and Christianity. The 2001 World Christian Encyclopedia of Oxford Press informs us that in Protestant Christianity alone
there are 33,830 denominations worldwide (Barrett, Kurian, & Johnson,
2001). I remember my church history professor in seminary informing
us, while discussing the various orders of medieval and modern Catholicism, that one should never forget that there is greater variety
within the faith community of Roman Catholicism than in all of Protestantism. I am not so sure that such a statement can safely be made
today, 60 years later. What can be said, however, is that the great variety of forms and institutions of religion that have marked human history until this day have been the matrix of a painful and precarious
pilgrimage for women endeavoring to express their inherent desire and
heroic struggle to be certied and legitimized in authentic religious
leadership roles.
Most Westerners can name at least ve different Jewish denominations and that, undoubtedly, does not indicate the great variety of
subdivisions within each of those. Likewise, such other faith groups as
Buddhism, while it is constituted mainly by the distinctive schools of
Mahayana, Vajrayana, Theravada, and Hinayana communities, is
almost innitely divided into more than fty specialized subgroups
within each of the four major denominations, as well independent
national Buddhist communities. Recently, the various forms of Islam

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

(al Qaeda, Susm, Shiite, and Suni Muslims) are very much present in
human awareness worldwide. Every one of these religious systems has
been an arena in which the issue of women in religious leadership has
been a signicant contest and the source of noteworthy ferment.
At least since the shift from matriarchal human communities to patriarchalism, about 5000 BCE, in all facets of society the role of women
has been repressed, suppressed, and oppressed. This aspect of the
human experiment has been a relatively consistent history of keeping
women under control; that is, whether consciously intentional or motivated by other drivers, the story is one of power brokering in which
women have been most of the time disenfranchised. The most unfortunate aspect of this tragic narrative is the fact that religious institutions
have, until recently, been the most powerful agents and agencies of this
injustice. The misfortune is compounded by the fact that repressing the
contribution of women has been a deprivation and self-defeat of those
very persons and institutions that have perpetrated and perpetuated
this unwisdom and injustice.
It started very early in the history of religious institutions. Though
women have always been a key part of religious communities of every
kind, in the last 3,000 years for which we have some kind of historical
record, their role has been relatively subservient most of the time. For
about 250 years, in the early centuries of the Jesus Movement and the
Christian faith groups that followed it, women were quite obviously the
prominent leaders of the developing religious communities. When Christendom was established by Constantine, creating the Imperial Church in
325 CE, the role of women was severely and permanently suppressed,
as was the role of dissenting spiritual or theological opinion.
Karen Torjeson (1993), Dorothy Irvin (1980), and Joan Morris (1973)
published notable books on this issue, naming the Constantinian revolution and its women-suppressive antecedents the scandal of their subordination. In elegant elegiac prose, Torjeson (1993) regales us with a
story that xes her thesis rmly in empirical historical data. She writes:
Under a high arch in a Roman basilica dedicated to two women saints,
Prudentiana and Praxedis, is a mosaic portraying four female gures: the
two saints, Mary, and a fourth woman whose hair is veiled and whose
head is surrounded by a square haloan artistic technique indicating
that the person was still living at the time the mosaic was made. The
four faces gaze out serenely from a glistening gold background. The faces
of Mary and the two saints are easily recognizable. But the identity of
the fourth is less apparent. A carefully lettered inscription identies the
face on the far left as Theodora Episcopa, which means Bishop Theodora.
The masculine form for bishop in Latin is episcopus; the feminine form is
episcopa. The mosaics visual evidence and the inscriptions grammatical
evidence point out unmistakably that Bishop Theodora was a woman.
(pp. 910)

Women as Religious Leaders: Advances and Stalemates

87

Similarly, on Santorini, the Greek Island of Thera, a gravesite bears


the epitaph of a woman named Epiktas, who was a priest sometime
between 200 and 400 CE.
This should not surprise us as much as it does. It is clear from St.
Pauls contributions to the New Testament that most of his churches
were established and led by prominent, highly accomplished women.
It is difcult to discover indicators in the Pauline and Deutero-Pauline
letters that there were any of the numerous congregations he established in Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy that were led by men or even
had prominent men in their membership. The eventual appointment of
Timothy to the role of pastor seems to be a singularly notable exception to that state of affairs.
Moreover, Jesuss twelve disciples are given prominence in the
apparently male-authored narratives in the New Testament, but it does
not take much reading between the lines to note that there was a larger
entourage of women sharing in the Jesus Movement. In the Jesus story,
they were, after all, the rst to recognize his distinctiveness, the main
company of disciples at his crucixion, the rst at his tomb, and the
rst to witness and report his resurrection. Hence, they became the rst
messengers of the news of the resurrection appearances around which
the entire hopeful Christian faith community was formed. In the Gospel
of Mary, a Nag Hammadi manuscript from the second century, Mary
Magdalene is the disciple who inspires the rest of Jesuss disciples to
remember the teaching of Jesus and get on with the mission for which
he had chosen them (Fiorenza, 1975).
Roger Gryson (1976) represents the generations of male historians
who have consistently contributed to the suppression of this kind of empirical evidence from art, archaeology, early Christian literature, and corollary ancient testimonies. He erroneously and defensively declares:
From the beginnings of Christianity, women assumed an important role
and enjoyed a place of choice in the Christian Community. Paul praised
several women who assisted him in his apostolic works. Women also possessed the charism of prophecy. There is no evidence, however, that they
exercised leadership roles in the community. Even though several women
followed Jesus from the onset of his ministry in Galilee and gured among
the privileged witnesses of his resurrection, no women appeared among
the Twelve or even among the other apostles. As Epiphanius of Salamis
pointed out, there have never been women presbyters. (p. 109)

Gryson is, of course, patently incorrect in his claims, having been


unable to take into consideration the wealth of evidence to the contrary
that has been generated by the signicant scholarship that has developed
on this issue since the publication of his book three decades ago. The work
done during the late 1970s to the mid-1990s by James M. Robinson and his

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teams of scholars at the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, deciphering and publishing the library of Gnostic manuscripts discovered at Nag
Hamadi in upper Egypt, contributed greatly to our understanding of early
Christian practices. In many of them, we have indications that in the second to the fth century CE there were still lively memories and legends of
women as religious leaders, indeed women ordained as bishops, in the
early church.
As the Constantinian revolution established a church polity model
that not only suppressed women religious leadership but excluded it
completely in Christendom, so also after the fall of the Roman Empire
in the West, the church of the Middle Ages afforded virtually no
role for woman religious leadership. The only exception to this statement is the revolutionary role some women carved out for themselves
in the form of operational ministries in applied modes, down on the
ground where the great needs were, so to speak. These roles were
usually carried on outside the ofcial structure of the church. They
eventually led to the rise of sanctioned orders of women in ministry,
usually regularized by attachment to male orders, such as the female
order associated with the Franciscans (Clara), the Jesuits of St. Ignatius,
and the Dominicans (Catherine of Siena).
Julian of Norwich, St. Theresa of Avila, and the other noted Medieval female mystics represent a mere tip of a huge iceberg of incredibly
devoted women who carried out ministry within and beyond the
bounds of the Medieval Church. When Protestantism arose after the
Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anabaptist Reformations, women continued to
have distinctive roles in the diaconate and its ministries of mercy, consolation, and healing to suffering humanity. Regardless of the patriarchal pressure to the contrary, the presence of women in ministry has
always been irrepressible. The repression and overt oppression that
existed in the Christian community for 18 centuries, however, took the
form of a glass ceiling that obstructed the movement of women into
the ofces, authority, and empowerment of ordination.
Only in the mid-twentieth century did women nally manage to
achieve ordination to Christian ministry in some Protestant Churches.
Methodism in the United States began to ordain women to the ofces
of Minister of Word and Sacraments in the late 1930s. Independents
and Pentecostals preceded that date but only in the cases of exceptional, independent, charismatic, self-appointed, and self-made prophets such as Amy Semple McPherson and Mary Baker Eddy.
Presbyterianism began to ordain women to the ofces of the word and
sacraments in 1957. A similar pattern of development took place at
approximately the same time in the various Jewish denominations. Of
course, in Muslim communities no gain has been achieved in ordination of women to such roles as leaders of congregations, ofcials of
mosques, or the function of Iman. So the regularization of the roles of

Women as Religious Leaders: Advances and Stalemates

89

women in religious leadership at the ofcial level is very recent and


sparsely distributed among the religious institutions of the Western
World.
In 1999, Audrey Brosnan wrote an interesting study of women going
through transition in ministry roles in the Roman Catholic Church. She
focused on the perplexities and pain of women in religious leadership
in the Roman Catholic faith community. In a private conversation, Dr.
Brosnan highlighted key factors in the historic struggles that have prevailed over the centuries, down to this present moment. She pointed
out crisply that the plight of women in religious leadership in Christendom has always been a turbulent quest for their clear discernment
of authentic vocation and the mode and method of ministry to which
they were called. Every movement for women in religious leadership
was resisted, criticized, and obstructed until they were organized into
identiable and named mass movements that could appeal to the ecclesiastical authorities for institutionalization; for example, in the form of
religious orders of cloistered women.
Unfortunately, even these orders were usually given authoritative
and legitimated status only as adjuncts to established male orders.
Thus, the Jesuits of St. Ignatius, the Franciscans, the Dominicans, the
Augustinians, and the Benedictines all had womens orders associated
with them. A recent assessment of ofcial Roman Catholic womens
orders listed approximately 100 different such orders worldwide, each
having a surprising number of daughter organizations in various countries of the world (Wikipedia, 2009)
None of these women in divine vocation could ever be ordained to
the priesthood, of course. Only Catholic men have been ordained, and
women in religious leadership have always been required to attach
themselves in one way or another to ordained men. Highly accomplished women in heroic and profound forms of ministry stand out in
this historic tradition over the centuries, such as Catherine of Siena in
the Dominican tradition, and St. Clara in the Franciscans womens
order. The list is long. Those rare women who achieved individual notable status in Christendom before the modern era were such wellknown gures as Julian of Norwich, Hildegaard of Bingen, St. Teresa
of Avila, and Joan of Arc. These set the precedent for such modern gures as Mother Theresa, St. Theresa of Lisieux, and numerous lesser
known but equally signicant persons still among us today.
Great women today who have a vision and vocation of ministry as
women in religious leadership, but who are unable to achieve ordination because of the polity constraints of their faith community, strongly
wish and often militate for a place at the table where the decisions are
made for the present operation and the future shape of the church. In
mainline Presbyterian and Methodist churches in the United States, in
which ordination is now equally accessible to women as it is to men,

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many if not most of the major committees and commissions at the


national organizational level, of those denominations, are lead by
women. This pattern increases every decade, if not every year.
In denominations in which women still cannot be ordained, there is
a sturdy undercurrent of desire for such certied roles of women religious leadership. As I write this, the Roman Catholic Curia under Pope
Benedict XVI is carrying out a systematic assessment of all women religious orders with the purpose of weeding out those progressive thinking women who militate in favor of womens ordination to the
priesthood in the Roman Catholic Communion. This is a step further
along a course instituted by Benedict XVI while he was still head of
the Curia in Rome during the papal tenure of Pope John Paul II. A decade or more ago he carried out a house-cleaning in all Roman Catholic
Seminaries in the United States. It that intervention ecumenical initiatives by the seminaries toward other denominations were curtailed,
non-Catholic faculty members were removed from Catholic seminaries,
non-Catholic students could no longer matriculate in or even attend
the Masters of Divinity courses leading to ordination to the priesthood,
and non-Roman Catholic students were systematically amortized from
the Master of Arts program in Religious Studies at the seminaries.
This has caused and will now increasingly cause a signicant distancing of the Roman Catholic communion from other communities of
Christian faith traditions, as well as from those in Catholic membership
who feel that the restrictions of the church against women in religious
leadership is neither biblical, nor wise, nor fair. The predicament of
such women in Roman Catholic communities is paradigmatic of that of
women in any denomination or walk of life in which gender is an
obstruction to vocation, promotion, and achievement. The situation places women with skills, talents, natures, and divine vocations for religious leadership in an impasse in which they are unable to be true to
their own authentic selves. They are forced to decide whether they
should simply continue alone in the pursuit of an interior personal spirituality or persist in pressing for such ordination, promotion, and
leadership roles as permit them to exercise their sense of divine vocation. Are they to be satised with personal contemplation of the mystery of a meaningfully transcendent private spirituality or militate for
the institutionalization of their rightful sense of calling in ministry?
Benedict XVI, earlier as head of the Curia and now as Pope, has
rolled back the progress toward proper certication of women that was
advanced by Vatican II. As a result, Catholic women in religious leadership are forced to give up the hope for certication in roles equivalent to those of religious male leaders. This spills over into the general
culture in many ways, mainly in the devaluing of women in their
desire for advancement in secular forms of leadership commensurate
with their education/training, abilities, and style. Such generalized

Women as Religious Leaders: Advances and Stalemates

91

erosion of hope in church and society can corrupt the victims vision of
her own destiny, and in the case of religious leadership issues, prompt
singularly able persons into tasks and careers that are not real ministry
and are inferior to their ability and vocation.
This raises the profound and life-shaping issues of values, objectives,
goals, and identity in terms of womens authentic vocation. Then a
woman must try to discern where one can still serve best, in spite of
being shut out of the arena of esteemed and standardized ministry. This
is ultimately what religious and secular women face today. Every individual woman then is faced with making that isolated personal decision.
Mother Theresa of Calcutta and her similar saintly antecedents were
forced into that position and resolved it by heroic individual service to
the most needy in our world, person by person and situation by situation. Inadvertently, her solitary ministry grew into a communal calling
for many women, through her houses of ministry, throughout the world.
Women have always sublimated their loss of institutional certication
and ordination by pouring their spiritual energies and sense of vocation
into such community or worldwide missions. They are the ones who
chose to move away from the struggle for ordination and simply
immersed themselves in ministry to specic human needs, such as contemplation and prayer, teaching, or care of the needy and suffering.
They are the ones who bore the burden and the heat, while they could
have been those who spiritually conquered and subdued the land.
Religious institutions, which resist honoring the ministry of women
and the institutionalization of womens leadership, invite thereby a
counterforce to their institution in the form of a congealing group of
those women who see it as a matter of ethical integrity to stay and
ght. It is these women that the present papal housecleaning of the
female orders is endeavoring to eliminate from places of inuence.
There is, of course, in every institution or society that represses religious leadership by women, a group of women who prefer to stay in
the community, adapt to its prescriptions, dene themselves in terms
of its rubrics, and enjoy that traditional status quo. Such women or
groups tend to go to the margins and work in peripheral ministries
without pursuit of denitive central leadership roles. Others enter the
academy and invest their energies there instead of in the church, and
still others simply abandon the cause of religious service and move
into a kind of freedom of forced secularity.
If this were only true of the Roman Catholic Church and the Muslim
congregations and Mosque-centered communities, it might be possible
for most of us to ignore them and leave them to their benighted and
misbegotten selves. However, the trouble, as hinted above, lies in the
fact that this ancient mode of repressing women in religious institutions tends to reinforce the long-standing pattern of those same regressive values and behaviors in the culture and society in general. When

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the biblical community of Israel became an empire under Davids


dynasty, prophets arose to remind them that this was not the intent of
the covenant. Prophets challenged the status quo, claiming that God
does not have a predestined system of order that is unfolding in history, no matter how humans behave. The prophets claimed that the
world is not the way God intended it, and humans are responsible to
set it right.
So should women simply stay in repressive institutions and roles,
acquiesce to the exploitation, and rationalize away the perdy and
immorality of such societal structures? Or is one duty bound and under
ethical imperative to get out of the institution and establish an alternative structure that will function morally? Each woman must make her
own decision regarding this watershed issue and discern where, for her,
is the tipping point of the ethical and personal dilemma.
Numerous biblical scholars, over the last three decades, have referred
to the illustration of Jesuss life and work, in which he obviously cultivated Mary Magdalene to be his equal in ministry, not his lover (Schaberg, 2002, 2006). Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza (1984, 2009) casts the issue
of this ethical dilemma as the universal problem of women against
empire and its patriarchal structures. A similar posture is advanced by
Walter Wink (1984) in his work on the powers of human abuse and devaluation that are afoot throughout the world of contemporary human society. Wherever repression and oppression of any kind have prevailed in
this world, it has often been up to women to initiate ministry and service
to the marginalized, victimized, outcast, and disempowered. It was usually women that opened the doors and windows of new initiatives and
experimental ministries for the needy, helpless, hopeless, and forlorn.
How often throughout history the prophetic voices of women have given
the sturdy and challenging leadership that delivered all kinds of persons
from the denigration of their humanness, and so greatly relieved the
human spirit of its travail (Wink, 1984, 1986, 1992, 1998, 2003).
Surely this is the reason that Jesuss message and style had such inordinate appeal to women, and that they have always sought ofcial
and certied ministry in his name. Jesus stood against all forms of
entrenched power and oppression throughout his ministry. That was
certainly the main point of his very existence. That is also the reason
why, from the outset of his ministry, his interventionary voice and his
unconventional claims on the sources of power in his society were suppressed and ultimately exterminated. Jesus stood against the powers of
this world and so was himself oppressed, suppressed, and cast out. He
cared greatly for those for whom others cared little, the outcast, suppressed, and oppressed.
Women understood immediately and intuitively the sounds, signs,
and signicance of such a mission as Jesuss, and its importance for the
unempowered. They had been there, had done that trip, and had

Women as Religious Leaders: Advances and Stalemates

93

gotten the T-shirt, so to speak. So it should not surprise us that


throughout history there have risen to the top of the tide of human
endeavor, women of great ability and redemptive presence who have
called for a legitimation of all forms of womens religious leadership.
They have long known the essential issues, have long sought deliverance, and they have militated appropriately for their opportunity to
bind up the broken hearted and afford the ministry of deliverance and
hope to all who are oppressed.
The net outcome of this long historic struggle for the equality of
women, for their freedom from sick dependencies and oppression, and
for their ordination to and/or certication in religious leadership roles,
turns out to be very interesting in many ways. This observation applies
equally to women in the political arena, in social services agencies, in
the academy, and in ordained religious roles, in those communities of
faith of every religion and denomination that allows it.
The fact that is most interesting about this modern day outcome is
as follows. In the historically most highly regarded professions in the
Western World, namely, religion, medicine, and university faculties,
men are no longer the most prominent candidates or appointees. I
came onto the university scene in 1970 and had a lovely time for a decade. However, in the subsequent quarter of a century, key university
posts tended to be given to women or black candidates. If you were a
qualied black woman, your chances were even better for an appointment. If you were a black Puerto Rican woman of Spanish extraction
whose mother tongue was Hebrew, it was a cinch.
The very specic reasons for this lie in two facts. First, the wholesome advantages of equal opportunity legislation, and second, the fact
that, during the last two generations, males with rst-line brains, so to
speak, have not sought out the ministry, medicine, and the academy,
as of primary interest to them. They have tended strongly, instead, to
professions having to do with research, technology, and computer engineering, rather than the humanities and social sciences.
At the same time, equal opportunity legal provisions opened the
doors for women with rst-line brains to seek and nd signicant
appointments in ordained ministry, medicine, and university faculties.
In those communions of faith and those institutions of medicine and
learning that were open to senior roles for women, this began to provide the opportunity for woman of superior ability and training to acquire the leading positions in these historically esteemed professions.
Thus, in Christian churches, which now ordain women to religious
leadership positions, we are getting a preponderance of women with
rst-line brains entering our seminaries and our signicant positions of
religious leadership as ordained clergy. At the same time, a high percentage of the males who are going into ordained ministry, medicine,
and university professorships have third- and fourth-line brains; that

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is, they are of far less ability, skill, motivation, and productivity than
their women colleagues, for the most part. This is not true of all males,
but a high percentage of those becoming ordained ministers, doctors,
and university professors. Conversely, excellence does not mark all
women entering the historically prized professions, but only a high
percentage of them. This sociological and psychological shift represents
a major modication in our culture.
I was, for the rst half of my professional career, an ordained minister in a denomination that would not ordain women to the roles of either deacon or teaching (preachers and pastors) and ruling elders.
Many of us young men carried a brilliantly burning torch for the cause
of womens ordination. We were fathers of brilliant and appropriately
passionate daughters whose future in ordained ministry was quite
obvious. We gained some ground in the late 1970s and succeeded in
getting women ordained as deacons. When we overtured the denomination to ordain women as elders and ministers, an aggressive political
backwash both denied the overture for ordination of women as ministers, and rescinded the previous decision of years before regarding
ordination of women deacons.
After a decade of this struggle, constantly failing in our objective, I
left that denomination on the grounds of its failure to measure up to
the biblical and ethical imperatives for the equality of women and their
opportunities as women religious leaders. This struggle continues in
many religious communities, and most unfortunately of all, the Roman
Catholic Church under Benedict XVI is rushing that communion rapidly into the Middle Ages. All prospects of any gains in ordained
women in religious leadership in that most inuential of all Christian
communions is being regressed severely, with a vengeance.
So the picture and prospects for women as religious leaders in the
Americas, and throughout the Western World, are quite ambiguous. In
the Christian denominations and non-Christian communities of faith
that invite women as religious leaders, women are generally doing a
brilliant work and exceedingly effective service to those institutions
and their constituencies, as the effectiveness of males in comparable
roles is in decline. On the other hand, in those religious groups who
resist women as religious leaders, the anti-feminine prejudice is hardening and becoming more and more regressive, to the great detriment
of those institutions and their constituencies, especially of the women
in their communions. There seems to be more and more likelihood that
women will increase in prominence and effectiveness in religious leadership where they are certied to do so; and less and less likelihood
that women will ever have that opportunity in such regressive communions as the Roman Catholic Churchat least under the present Medieval papacy.

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REFERENCES
Barrett, D., Kurian, G., & Johnson, T. (2001). World Christian encyclopedia (2nd
ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Brosnan, A. (1999). Discerning ministerial transition. Unpublished doctoral
dissertation, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago.
Fiorenza, E. S. (1975). Mary Magdalene: Apostle to the Apostles. United Theological Seminary Journal, April, 2224
Fiorenza, E. S. (Ed.). (1984). In memory of her (2nd ed.). New York: Crossroads.
Fiorenza, E. S. (2009, April 16). Unpublished lecture, University of Detroit Mercy.
Gryson, R. (1976). The ministry of women in the early church. Collegeville, MN:
Liturgical Press.
Morris, J. (1973). The lady was a bishop: The hidden history of women with clerical
ordination and jurisdiction of bishops. New York: Macmillan.
Schaberg, J. (2002). The resurrection of Mary Magdalene: Legends, apocrypha and the
Christian testament. New York: Continuum.
Schaberg, J. (2006). Mary Magdalene understood. New York: Continuum.
Torjeson, K. (1993). When women were priests: Womens leadership in the early
Church and the scandal of their subordination in the rise of Christianity. San
Francisco: Harper.
Wikipedia. (2009). Denominations. Retrieved May 10, 2009, from http://www.
wikipedia.com/denominations.
Wink, W. (1984). Naming the powers: The language of power in the New Testament.
Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.
Wink, W. (1986). Unmasking the powers: The invisible forces that determine human
existence. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
Wink, W. (1992). Engaging the powers: Discernment and resistance in a world of
domination. Minneapolis: Fortress Augsburg.
Wink, W. (1998). The powers that be. New York: Doubleday.
Wink, W. (2003). Jesus and nonviolence. Minneapolis: Fortress Augsburg.

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Chapter 7

The Feminine Political Persona:


Queen Victoria, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,
and Michelle Bachelet
Emily A. Haddad
William Schweinle

Women have historically been and currently are underrepresented


among international political leaders. The proportions of men and
women in leadership roles have been slowly moving toward gender
parity, but as of 2007, only 17 percent of national parliament members
were women. In the U.S. Congress, women represent only about 16
percent of the members (Eagley & Carli, 2007). Never has a woman
been elected to the U.S. Presidency, though during the 1990s, twentyve women served as president or prime minister in other countries.
Eagley and Carli (2007) note two successful women presidents who
were elected to lead their respective countries while maintaining a feminine political persona and leadership style: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of
Liberia and Michelle Bachelet of Chile. Moreover, Rubin (2006) argues
that the elections of Johnson Sirleaf and Bachelet suggest that people
want feminine attributes in their leaders. Perhaps as important is the
media attention that has been given to the feminine personae that these
two women fostered in their campaigns and in their presidencies.
Much of this attention seems to focus on their evident femininity, especially as displayed in their family relationships.
The reign of Great Britains Queen Victoria provides an early paradigm for feminine national leadership. Before we present Victorias
public persona as a model for her twentieth- and twenty-rst-century

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heirs, we briey summarize some scientic ndings regarding women


leaders. These ndings clearly indicate that women can lead as effectively as men while maintaining a feminine leadership style. We conclude that while women are underrepresented among political leaders,
the historical evidence about Queen Victoria and the current success of
Presidents Johnson Sirleaf and Bachelet clearly indicate that women are
able to deploy conventionally feminine attributes to their advantage in
developing their public personae as leaders.
LEADERSHIP STYLES: TRANSACTIONAL VERSUS
TRANSFORMATIONAL
From the 1950s to the 1980s, behavioral scientists tried a number of
methods and measures to explain the overwhelming gender disparity in
leadership. Much of this research focused on the differences between
mens and womens leadership styles. Eagley and Johnson (1990) metaanalyzed 162 of these studies and concluded that men and women do
indeed differ in their leadership styles. Generally speaking, women tend
to lead with a more transformational style that emphasizes interpersonal
relationships and task accomplishment, whereas men tend to lead with
a more transactional style that places less emphasis on interpersonal relationships and focuses instead on the contractual exchange between leaders and followers, usually money for work (Eagley & JohannesenSchmidt, 2001; Ridgway, 2001; Walumba, Wu, & Ojode, 2004).
A more transactional or masculine leadership situation tends to be
based in a contingent rewards systema system of social and other
contracts between the leader and his followers. The leader communicates the desired outcomes to his subordinates. The subordinates then
produce the outcomes and are rewarded for having achieved them.
This system tends to create an autocratic environment in which competitive, self-condent, aggressive, dominant, and forceful people will
be at an advantage (Walumba et al., 2004). These characteristics
competitiveness, self-condence, aggression, etc.tend to describe the
male gender role throughout the world (Eagley & Wood, 1991) and are
expressed by men more frequently than by women. In particular, men
are more likely to display a desire to lead in a competitive and assertive style (Eagley & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001).
In contrast, a transformational or feminine leadership style is more
focused on individual interactions, inspiration, motivation, intellectual
stimulation, and positive inuence on subordinates (Walumba et al.,
2004). Feminine leaders tend to be less concerned with personal power
and more concerned with the organization as a whole, as well as with
its positive group dynamics. For instance, matriarchies tend to foster
economic equality and balance to a society, as Goettner-Abendroth
(2008) argues. The advantage inherent to a more transformational

The Feminine Political Persona

99

leadership style is that the leader or organization can become or


remain a leader without having to possess or control the transactional
rewards that are necessary to maintaining a transactional leadership
role. This may be particularly important to organizations or nations
that are in a state of relative economic and/or social collapse, where
the organization and its political leaders do not possess the rewards
with which to bargain for and sustain their desired outcomes.
Despite the differences in leadership styles, Eagley and Johnson
(1990) conclude that men and women leaders do not differ in their effectiveness. The success of one leadership style over another appears to be
more contingent on context than on the gender or style of the leader.
This chapter develops Duff-McCall and Schweinles (2009) line of argument to show that for certain female heads of state, the foregrounding of
feminine characteristics forms an essential dimension not only of leadership style but also of political persona. For all three of the leaders discussed, a political persona based in part on female family roles (mother,
wife) appears to complement the leadership style itself.
FAMILIAL FEMININITY: QUEEN VICTORIA AS A MODEL FOR
THE FEMALE HEAD OF STATE
Victoria became queen of England in 1837, only a few weeks after
her eighteenth birthday, and died on the throne 63 years later, in 1901.
Her rule dened the age of British geopolitical ascendancy. Victoria
reigned as London became Europes banking center, and as England
became the most commercially active and fully industrialized nation in
Europe. The British Empire dominated the world stage at the turn of
the century; an estimated 25 percent of the globes population inhabited territory that belonged to England. Although the reputation of the
Victorian period now has more to do with prudish morals than political or economic primacy, Victorias reign coincided with Englands
self-conscious transition to modernity.
Victorias direct role in the government of England and its empire
was always limited, yet she offers a durable model for public rule of a
modern state by a woman. A dening feature of this model is its reference to a family-based, middle-class vision of the female. Perhaps
pretty as a young queen, Victoria lost what conventional feminine
attractiveness she had by the time she was middle-aged, yet her popularity was greatest in the nal decades of her reign. Her construction of
a successful and specically female public image depended not on
physical appeal or the direct display of political power but rather on
her (self-) presentation as a wife and mother.
Victorias immediate predecessors on the throneher uncles George
IV and William IVhad led lives of excess and had been faulted for
that by the public.1 Regardless of her sex, then, Victoria stood to gain

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in public esteem by distinguishing herself as someone whose personal


life was irreproachable. It is possible that, as Thompson (1990) argues,
Victorias gender made her more acceptable as a gurehead and less
threatening to those who opposed the monarchy (pp. 138139). As a
female monarch, however, she faced a complicated challenge in this
regard. If she had adopted the moral conventions of feminine behavior
that were predominant at this time, she would have subordinated herself to her husband. At the same time, such subordination was impossible because she had to maintain an image of authority that was
consistent with her royal position and responsibilities.2 In meeting this
challenge, Victoria used her private family role and obligations as the
basis for her public persona as a female ruler. Ultimately, Victorias
domestic success as the mother of nine children and the devoted wife
(and later, long-grieving widow) of the Prince Consort, Albert, served
as gurative credentials for her sovereignty. Thus, whereas the only
previous English queen of similar importance, Elizabeth I, ruled, as
Homans (1998) and Duff-McCall and Schweinle (2008) have pointed
out, by deferring her femininity and operating in a somewhat masculine, but at times, politically, feminine way, Victorias relations with the
state and the public originate in her explicitly female role within the
family unit.3
The extent to which Victorias family life pervaded public perception
of her may be gauged from a brief examination of a few of the memorial volumes that appeared in both England and America just after her
death in 1901.4 Generally laudatory, these books offer a compact overview of attitudes toward Victoria as her reign ended, and writers had
the opportunity to consider it in toto. The tables of contents offer a
place to begin. In a volume by the Marquis of Lorne, John Douglas
Sutherland Campbell Argyll (1901), for instance, seven of the thirteen
chapter titles refer directly to some aspect of the Queens personal life,
and four of them to her status as a wife or widow. The authorized biography of Victoria by Windsor Castles librarian, Richard R. Holmes
(originally published in 1897, reprinted in 1901), tells the story of the
Queens life in ten chapters; ve titles refer to her personal life, and
three of those to her married life. American versions include Morriss (1901) memorial volume, called The Life of Queen Victoria and the
Story of Her Reign: A Beautiful Tribute to Englands Greatest Queen in Her
Domestic and Ofcial Life. Morriss chapter titles suggest much more
attention to the ofcial than either Holmes or Argyll grant, but even
so there are eight chapters titled with a personal focus. A volume by
John Rusk (1901), also an American, presents personal and ofcial content in proportions similar to Morriss, but a couple of his titles integrate the two. One chapter is called Family Life and National Duties.
Another, entitled The Labors of a Monarch, covers the birth of Victorias rst two children as well as her involvement in reforming the

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101

postal system, among other topics. Clearly, the Queen labored in the
delivery of both babies and mail.
As they introduce their subject, each of these memorial writers
presents Victoria as a woman whose domestic life informed her public
existence. Morris (1901) says that no other British sovereign lived so
noble and pure a life and presided over such a grand era of progress
as the royal lady Victoria, whose late decease plunged the nation into
such a depth of grief (p. xi). The regal state and sovereign rank
strike the imagination, Morris adds, but the homely virtues of Victoria, her maternal love, her life-long touching devotion to the memory
of the Prince Consort, the picture of domestic felicity in which she is
represented as the central and venerable gure, appeal to the common
heart (pp. xiixiii). Along the same lines, Rusk (1901) announces Victoria as one whose life and name stood not alone for the sceptered
majesty of a great kingdom and empire, but also for one of the noblest
and purest ideals of womanhood (p. 23). She was a queenly woman
and a womanly queen; had she been less worthy as a woman she
could not have been so great as a queen (p. 41). Argyll (1901), an Englishman, is more specic about both Victorias traits and her accomplishments, but he joins his American contemporaries in linking her
family role with her sovereignty. He concludes his preface as follows:
The English love cleanliness and healthiness, and so did their Queen, in
this a typical Englishwoman. In one word, she did all that woman and
sovereign could do to inuence for good all movements of her time.
Through a moderating, wise, motherly mind, she worked with effect for
her countrymen in their relations with foreign powers, in the bettering of
their own legislation, and for the social life of the whole community. She
made herself understood, beloved, and revered. (p. xii)

Originally written as Victorias authorized biography and then


republished in recognition of her death, Holmess volume is less effusive than the others. Yet in the elegiac nal chapter of his book,
Holmes too integrates Victorias domestic obligations with her regal
ones. For example, he presents the growing Empire and the Queens
growing family as the two factors increasing the pressure of work
for her, and observes, Whether matters of State had to be discussed
or arrangements of family or household to be decided, all were settled
with a soundness of judgment and an invariable kindness of heart
(p. 329). Her monument, he concludes, will be . . . in the ideal of
sovereignty which she created (p. 330).
In all of these retrospective accounts of Victorias life and rule, that
ideal of sovereignty seems dened by the construction of public
duties as somehow coinciding ontologically with the specically
female, familial duties of a wife and mother. The distinction between

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

the domestic and the ofcialeven when assertedis thus largely


erased. Visual indication of this outcome might be found in the funeral
portrait that serves as the frontispiece of Rusks (1901) book. It shows
Victorias body laid out, with a headdress that could be either crown
or bridal veil. The Queens hands, crossed on her chest, are almost
obscured by a large quasi-bridal bouquet, but her wedding ring is
clearly visible on her nger. Although she typically wore black after
the Prince Consorts death, this portrait shows her in a light-colored
dress. A large, square, white cross appears above her where the background color of the photograph has been removed. The caption reads:
The end of a glorious reign. In confusing the bridal with the funereal, the portrait seems to bring together Victorias entire life as a
woman, yet the caption and the awkwardly inserted cross summarize
the life not as that of a woman, but rather as that of an imperial ruler
and the head of a church. Victoria is literally lying in state.5
Although Victoria clearly played no part in the photographic representation of her body after death,6 the construction of her public persona during her lifetime depended heavily on her willingness to use
both photography and publication of her own writing to mold public
perception of her. The development of Victorias persona has been of
especial interest to historians and other scholars of British culture in
the past fteen years. Plunkett (2003) terms Victoria the rst media
monarch, reminding us that she was the rst monarch to preside
over conditions approaching a mass urban and industrial society
(p. 1). Plunkett argues that in responding to these pressures, she
became a populist sovereign, an overarching yet intimate gure
that was always aware of its own fabrication (pp. 1, 11, 10). In concluding that Victoria was, [b]y the end of her reign . . . the symbolic
hub of the British Empire (p. 240), Plunkett emphasizes the civic
publicness of Victoria and her family. The specic content of these
public images, as both Homans and Plunkett show, has the effect of
democratizing Victorias image (Homans, 1998, pp. 4557; Plunkett,
2003, p. 163), chiey by representing Victoria as a mother with her husband and children. Together, Plunketts emphasis on the royal family
as an essential aspect of Victorias image-making, and Homanss corresponding focus on the photographic representation of the marital relationship, inevitably place Victorias familial role at the center of her
public persona.7 As such, this persona also participates, as Langland
(1997) notes, in an increasingly potent discourse of domesticity that
comes to dene social relations in Victorian England. Langland
explains, The domestication of the monarch helped produce and was
itself produced by an ideology of domesticity that [may] dene the last
half of the nineteenth century in England (p. 23). Victorias own conscious and vigorous participation in this ideological production is evident in her remark late in her life, that she knew perfectly well what

The Feminine Political Persona

103

my people like and appreciate and that is home life and simplicity
(Arnstein, 2003, p. 155).8
Throughout her reign, Victoria consistently represented herself visually and verbally as the fulllment of this ideal, ultimately transform
[ing] the gendered body into a national icon (Armstrong, 2001,
p. 522). As an icon, Victoria remained dened by an explicitly familial
version of femininity that corresponded to the ideals of her people.
Female heads of state in the early twenty-rst century can respond to
the hopes of their own constituents by deploying a feminine political
persona that follows Victorias model. The remainder of this chapter
will discuss two examples, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Michelle Bachelet,
as contemporary leaders whose public images are familial at the same
time as they are political, and whose leadership tends to follow a transformational style associated with femininity.
ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF: MA ELLEN
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was sworn in as Liberias president in 2006 after twenty-ve years of war, dictatorship, and coups in that country.
Born in 1938, she is divorced and has four sons and six grandchildren.
Johnson Sirleaf earned an economics degree from the University of Colorado and a Masters degree in Public Administration from Harvard
(Caballero, 2006). She was also an ofcial at Citibank. During the 2005
Liberian presidential runoff election, the Liberian media focused on
Johnson Sirleafs strengths of experience and credentials over the popularity of George Weah, her male opponent (Shaw, 2007). These experiences speak to her qualications as president, but they do not dene
her leadership style or her political persona.
Johnson Sirleaf has been described by her constituents and in the
press with a number of feminine terms, including as a diminutive
grandmother gure who campaigned as someone who would bring
motherly sensitivity and emotion to the presidency (Johnson Sirleaf,
2006), enabling Liberia to heal after twenty-ve years of civil war, dictatorship, and coups. Liberians refer to her as Ma Ellen or just
Ma, a woman who sees Liberia as someone who needs to be taken
care of with the dedication and commitment that a mother takes care
of a sick child (Johnson Sirleaf as cited in Caballero, 2006). Comments
such as this show that Johnson Sirleafs public persona is not simply
feminine but specically maternal.
Johnson Sirleafs own writing speaks to a transformational leadership style in which consensus building or bridging social divisions can
heal the collapse brought on by competition (in the form of sociopolitical rivalries) in Liberia. She sees the historical conict between the
various ethnic factions in Liberia as needing a transformational leader
who will create consensus and a shared identity:

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

Liberia stands in the midst of a crisis that is unparalleled in its history.


Its systems of government and economy have virtually collapsed. Internal military conict has caused death and destruction of enormous proportions. The social fabric of the country is torn by deep-seated rivalries.
In short, the nation is at risk of losing all semblance of its identity. However, therein lies its opportunity. There is now a chance to bridge the
social division between the descendents of the settlers and the descendents of the seventeen indigenous ethnic groups . . . a foundation for reconciliation can be found. (Johnson Sirleaf, 1991)

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf appears to have been very successful in leading


Liberia toward positive social change. Feust (2008) argues that Liberian
women have gained substantially in terms of their gender role, work
and business opportunities, political inuence, and educational opportunities. Furthermore, Kinder and Stanger (2008) argue that her administration has maintained political stability, improved Liberias nancial
management, and reduced corruption, though Johnson Sirleaf acknowledged in a 2008 press conference that Liberias troubles are far from
near an end (An African First, 2009). Her success as a leader is further evidenced by her being named by Forbes Magazine in 2007 as the
100th most powerful woman in the world and in 2008 as the 66th.
MICHELLE BACHELET: MAMA
Michelle Bachelet was inaugurated as Chiles rst female president
in 2006 at the age of fty-four. She is separated from her husband and
has three children. She is a licensed pediatrician and a socialist, who,
with her parents, was imprisoned and tortured under the Pinochet regime. Her father died of torture while in prison. She studied defense
issues in Washington DC and was the Defense Minister of Chile before
becoming its president. As Defense Minister, Bachelet helped unify
Chilean military and political leadership.
Despite having these impressive professional qualications and
being president, Michelle Bachelet is, like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,
referred to by her constituents as Mama and as someone who radiates empathy and genuine concern for people (Polgreen & Rohter,
2006). Her presidential campaign was based on her personal appeal,
charm, and compassion for the people (Angell & Reig, 2006). In fact,
her political opponents in the campaign tried to use these traits in a
sexist way by overemphasizing her sympathy and caring, suggesting
that these personal qualities were indicative of weakness. Her opponents campaign strategy did not work; it would appear that the Chilean people were looking for a maternal gure with the hope that
she could help heal the wounds left by the abusive dictatorship of
Augusto Pinochet (Pohlgreen & Rohter, 2006). It is clear that Bachelet

The Feminine Political Persona

105

campaigned and was received by a majority of the Chilean people as a


feminine maternal leader who was closer to the people than a male
leader and whose ability to restore the health of the country depended
upon her feminine attributes.
In her inauguration address, Bachelet described her successful election as the culmination of [Chiles] long and painful journey from
repression and dictatorship to democracy (as cited in Rohter, 2006). In
a particularly poignant example, Bachelet describes her own reaction
when she and her mother encountered one of her torturers on the
street. Instead of reacting with anger or aggressing against her torturer,
Bachelet describes the mans guilty reaction, thus acknowledging the
price he is paying for having been a torturer. In focusing on his evident
guilt, Bachelet also afrms a fundamental good in her torturer, which
is the capacity for shame and remorse:
One day I was walking with my mother and we bumped into [one of
their torturers]. We identied ourselves, and what we saw next was a
human being who was crying and lacked the courage to look into our
eyes. A completely diminished character carrying a bag lled with guilt.
(Bachelet as cited in Daniels, 2006)

Interestingly, when her political party was considering whether she


was a viable candidate, Bachelet was asked what her dream was. Her
reply was, Very simple. To walk along the beach holding hands with
my lover (Daniels, 2006). This is a stereotypically romantic feminine
dream, one that a masculine candidate would not have dared to utter
for fear of seeming weak or, perhaps, feminine. Though this comment
does not speak directly to Bachelets qualications for the presidency
or about her transformational leadership style, it does, however, reveal
her as a feminine sexual being. One has to wonder whether Hillary
Clinton or Sarah Palin could have responded similarly and have maintained their respective political success. For Bachelet, however, this
public expression of a conventional feminine fantasy was consistent
with the rest of her feminine political persona, and as such did not
prove detrimental to her campaign.
Bachelets presidential campaign and presidency have been based
on a transformational political leadership model called democracia de
los acuerdos (democracy by agreement). Under this leadership
model, Bachelet and her political party, Concertaci
on, have reformed
the Chilean constitution, revised the Chilean tax code, increased the
availability of state-run childcare, and improved the scope of anticorruption and welfare legislation (Siavelis, 2007).
Bachelet is also successfully bringing greater gender equity to Chile,
a predominantly Roman Catholic country in which 15 percent of babies
are born to teenage mothers, and in which divorce was legalized only

106

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

in 2004. Half of her cabinet is women. She has worked to allow prescriptions for contraception and morning-after-pills for all women over
the age of fourteen. Although Chilean society is historically patriarchal,
she is drafting controversial legislation that will mandate gender quotas among the political nominations to the Chilean Congress. She is
working to give Chilean women more protection from abusive husbands. Bachelets achievements are evidence of her success as Chiles
transformational leader and of her ability to use a specically feminine
political persona to advance policy goals, which include gender parity
and the rights of women.
CONCLUSION
This chapter speaks to possibility, not probability or proportion.
Women are still underrepresented in political leadership. This may be
in part attributable to a more male/transformational leadership tradition that views feminine women as being weak. Given such a context,
a woman political leader may become more masculine/transformational in her leadership style, as Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister of
Britain, 19791990) and Golda Meir (Prime Minister of Israel, 1969
1974) tended to do, or may become a more feminine transformational
leader, who risks being perceived by voters as weak. Currently, at least
two successful women leaders cultivate and maintain feminine political
personae: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Michelle Bachelet. Elected after
long histories of political unrest and violence in their respective countries, both women are qualied for the positions that they hold, and
both are successfully using feminine transformational leadership styles
in conjunction with a feminine political persona.
Queen Victoria had no choice but to adopt a transformational style
of leadership to some extent, simply because as the titular head of a
parliamentary monarchy, her direct role in government was constitutionally limited.9 She relied on personal relationships with her prime
ministers and others in parliament to give her preferences a political
life. As Arnstein (2003) explains, her persuasion was often effective,
with the result that she had a greater inuence in the governance of
Britain and the Empire than has sometimes been assumed. The emphasis that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Michelle Bachelet have placed on
social healing and the repair of damage to the body politic suggests
that they too have found that a transformational style enables them to
be effective leaders, despite the very substantial differences between
their contemporary contexts and that of their nineteenth-century predecessor.
Moreover, as our discussion has shown, these three leaders deployment of a transformational style is supported, and perhaps even made
possible, by their common emphasis on the sort of familial femininity

The Feminine Political Persona

107

pioneered by Victoria as she developed her public persona. All three of


these heads of state have presented themselves in relation to their family roles, especially those of mother and grandmother. In turn, their
people and their media have accepted their familial status not only as
an essential aspect of their individual lives, but also as a basic credential for leadership.
There are other current and past women heads of state who might
deserve similar consideration. Violetta Chamorro, former President of
Nicaragua (see Eagley & Carli, 2007, p. 95), and two current presidentsCristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippinesall appear to maintain or to have
maintained feminine political personae. Investigation of them and their
peers, present and future, may conrm that public appreciation for
conventional feminine roles, especially motherhood, can help to form a
political persona that effectively supports a transformational leadership
style.

NOTES
1. Arnsteins (2003) comment is to the point: Except for the time of Princess
Charlottes courtship and marriage, for half a century the royal family had
been identied with madness, with eccentricity, with proigacy, and with old
age (p. 33).
2. Casteras (1997) analyzes images of Victoria as a girl and young woman to
show that she was a symbolic child as well as a mother gure (p. 183).
For further discussion of the conict between Victorias marital role and her
obligation to the state, see Armstrong (2001, pp. 498500), Casteras (1997, p.
192), Houston (1997, pp. 172176), Plunkett (2003, p. 125), and Thompson
(1990, p. 143144). Munichs argument that the ideology of Victorian femininity constantly disrupts the discourse of the monarchical body (p. 47) is especially relevant in this respect, as is much of the argument offered by Munich in
Queen Victorias Secrets (1996).
3. Along the same lines, Watson (1997) notes that Elizabeth I was culpably
unwomanly because . . . she had retained absolute executive authority (p. 82).
Langland (1997) also offers a productive comparison of Victoria and Elizabeth I
(pp. 2729).
4. There were more than a dozen of these published 1901 and 1902.
5. A productive comparison might be made between this portrait and the
three-dimensional efgy of Victoria created for her tomb just after she was
widowed in 1861. In this recumbent efgy (an image of which is reproduced in
Arnsteins book), she is very clearly crowned, and her only accessory is a scepter. Although a veil descends from her crown, it is of a heavy material, not the
light fabric associated with a bridal veil, and there are no owers in evidence.
The four decades that intervened between the sculpting of this efgy and the
Queens death apparently allowed for a very different approach to the representation of the dead monarch.

108

Heritage, Roles, and Issues

6. According to Hibbert and Thompson, Victoria left precise instructions


about the preparation of her body and cofn for burial (Hibbert, 2000, p. 497;
Thompson, 1990, pp. 7677), but it is not clear from either description that Victoria issued any orders about how her lying-in-state should be photographed.
7. Arnstein makes a similar point about the coalescence of Victorias family
life and her political authority, citing an 1851 poem by poet laureate Alfred
Tennyson:
Her court was pure; her life serene;
God gave her peace; her land reposed
A thousand claims to reverence closed
In her as Mother, Wife, and Queen. (cited in Arnstein, 2003, p. 57)
As Arnstein, Langland, Munich, and others have pointed out, there is plentiful
evidence that Victorias mothering was problematic, even by the standards of her
day, but this had no impact on the public presentation of her as a domestic gure.
8. As Thompson (1990) notes, Victorias production of a middle-class selfrepresentation bears little relation to the actuality of her life (p. 124). Our
point in this chapter is not to claim that the Queen shared her subjects lifestyle, but rather to show how her public persona incorporated aspects of that
lifestyle. Munichs remark that Queen Victoria acted out an imagined or ideal
Victorian life in the privileged stage reserved for a monarch (Munich 1996,
p. 5) is very much to the point.
9. For a precise and cogent explanation of the extent of Victorias legal
powers, see Arnstein (2003, pp. 3537).

REFERENCES
An African First. (2009, April 8). The Economist, 391, 77.
Angell, A., & Reig, C. (2006). Change or continuity? The Chilean elections of
2005/2006. Bulletin of Latin American Studies, 25, 481502.
Argyll, J. (1901). V.R.I.: Queen Victoria, her life and empire. New York: Harper.
Armstrong, N. (2001). Monarchy in the age of mechanical reproduction. Nineteenth-Century Contexts, 22, 495536.
Arnstein, W. (2003). Queen Victoria. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan.
Caballero, M. (2006, September 21). Ma Ellen, African symbol of hope,
returns to Harvard. Harvard University Gazette. Retrieved April 15, 2009,
from http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2006/09.21/11-liberia.html.
Casteras, S. (1997). The wise child and her offspring: Some changing faces of
Queen Victoria. In M. Homans & A. Munich (Eds.), Remaking Queen Victoria (pp. 182199). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Daniels, A. (2006, March). From torture victim to president. The Progressive, 70,
3032.
Eagley, A., & Carli, L. (2007). Through the labyrinth. Boston: Harvard Business
School Press.
Eagley, A., & Johnson, B. (1990). Gender and leadership style: A meta-analysis.
Psychological Bulletin, 108, 233256.
Eagley, A. H., & Johannesen-Schmidt, M. C. (2001). The leadership styles of
women and men. Journal of Social Issues, 57, 781797.

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Feust, V. (2008). This is time to get in front: Changing roles and opportunities in Liberia. African Affairs, 107 (427), 201224.
Goettner-Abendroth, H. (2008). Matriarchies as societies of peace: Rethinking
matriarchy. Off Our Backs, 38, 4952.
Hibbert, C. (2000). Queen Victoria: A personal history. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo
Press.
Holmes, R. (1901). Queen Victoria, 18191901. London: Longmans, Green and
Company.
Homans, M. (1998). Royal representations: Queen Victoria and British culture,
18371876. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Houston, G. (1997). Reading and writing Victoria: The conduct book and the
legal constitution of female sovereignty. In M. Homans & A. Munich
(Eds.), Remaking Queen Victoria (pp. 159181). Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Johnson Sirleaf, E. (1991, Spring). The causes and consequences of the Liberian
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Johnson Sirleaf, E. (2006, March 8). Keynote address by HE Ellen Johnson
Sirleaf, President of Liberia at the opening of the International Roundtable
on Women in Politics, Paris, France.
Kinder, M., & Stanger, E. (2008). What will the revitalization of Liberias economy mean for women at its center? Retrieved May 1, 2009, from http://
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Langland, E. (1997). Nation and nationality: Queen Victoria in the developing
narrative of Englishness. In M. Homans & A. Munich (Eds.), Remaking
Queen Victoria (pp. 1332). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Morris, C. (1901). The life of Queen Victoria and the story of her reign: A beautiful tribute
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Scull.
Munich, A. (1996). Queen Victorias secrets. New York: Columbia University Press.
Munich, A. (2003). Good and plenty: Queen Victoria gures the imperial body. In
T. Heller & P. Moran (Eds.), Scenes of the apple: Food and the female body in nineteenth- and twentieth-century womens writing (pp. 4564). Albany: SUNY Press.
Plunkett, J. (2003). Queen Victoria: First media monarch. Oxford: Oxford UP Print.
Pohlgreen, L., & Rohter, L. (2006, January 22). Where political clout demands a
maternal touch. The New York Times, section 4, p. 4.
Rubin, T. (2006). Will women show a new way? Current History, 105 (689), 100101.
Rusk, J. (1901). The beautiful life and illustrious reign of Queen Victoria: A memorial
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Shaw, I. (2007). The medias agenda-setting role in Liberias 2005 presidential
runoff election. African Journalism Studies, 28, 5680.
Siavelis, P. (2007, February). How new is Bachelets Chile? Current History, 106,
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Thompson, D. (1990). Queen Victoria: The woman, the monarchy, and the people.
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Walumba, F., Wu, C., & Ojode, L. (2004). Gender and instructional outcomes:
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Chapter 8

Women in the Military: Is It Time to


Un-Gender Combat Roles?
Breena E. Coates

The global war on terrorism (GWOT) has brought lm footage of the


conicts in Afghanistan and Iraq into American homes, to where pictures and videos of women in the military serving in diverse roles are
commonplace. The U.S. strategy in the GWOT is now heading into its
ninth year of operations. This has reopened the debate about the role
of women in combat. The debate centers on the Department of Defense
(DoD) ground combat policy of 1994, that states: Service members
are eligible to be assigned to all positions for which they are qualied,
except that women shall be excluded from assignment to units below
the brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat
on the ground.1 The statement does not correlate with practice. In
both Afghanistan and Iraq, we see women who supposedly are protected from being in combat, actually engaged in direct confrontation
with the enemy, in the uid, assymetrical nature of modern warfare.
Desert Storm was a turning point for women, showing that the boundaries between front lines and non-combat zones were being blurred,
and that more women in non-combat2 positions were actually engaging with the enemy.
Current policy that permits women to serve in so-called defensive
positions is contradictory and confusing. Females cannot serve in offensive positions like multiple rocket launcher systems; they are prohibited from ying special operations by helicopter; yet, they are
permitted to kill the enemy while ying Apaches (which puts them in
combat risk), and have other restrictions on service, due to combat
risk. Females are permitted by DoD policy to serve as police

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

personnel on patrol on the streets, gunnery personnel on convoys, or


can perform searches at checkpoints. These are all positions where often become part of the conict, The DoD has used a direct combat
rule policy3 that excludes women to units below the brigade level
whose primary mission is direct ground combat4 (Government
Accounting Ofce, 1999). Furthermore, positions for those units that
collocate (i.e., are located in supportive roles to the troops on the
ground) are also prohibited for women. Yet the military would be
hard-pressed to meet its mission without females serving as police,
medical personnel, truck drivers, and other such positions, which are
positions that put them in danger. These are, in fact, combat roles in
an irregular war where the battleeld is uid and front lines do not
exist per se. Thus, argues Botters (2008), the combat exclusion rule has
become irrelevant.
Military women have always faced such contradictions. In the past,
women were restricted from ying aircraft that could shoot back, but
were permitted to y into enemy territory in helicopters and cargo airplanes, which put them in perilous circumstances.
In cognizance of the uid battlespace, President G.H.W. Bush (the
43rd president) created the Presidential Commission on the Assignment
of Women in the Armed Forces (PCAWAF) to ascertain whether women
could be placed in combat positions. The study, however, reiterated the
objections to women in combat due to lack of physical stamina,5 biological functions like pregnancy, negative impacts on group cohesion, and a
number of other issues. By a vote of ten against and two abstentions, it
voted against having women serve in combat positions.6
It is well-documented that throughout the U.S. military history, when
freedom has been threatened, women have shown that they have the
hearts of warriors and have responded with invaluable service (United
States Army War College [USAWC], PAO factsheet). Today, when we
speak of equality in the workplace more than ever before, it is only
appropriate that women seek to be given credit for the female warrior
ethos in policy and practice. This begs the following question: Why is
Congress and DoD saying one thing in statute, or policy, and another in
practice? Some further questions also arise from incongruence between
policy and action: Does this policy falsely try to maintain a culture of
exclusion, that contradicts reality? In other words, is it hypocritical in
nature; and, is it time to un-gender combat roles? This chapter addresses
the issues, arguments, and background surrounding the debate.
GOAL DISPLACEMENT, DISTORTION, AND DRIFT
The work of Chris Argyris and Donald Schon (1974, 1978) and their
followers has examined how individuals create idealized maps,
espoused theories, or governing variables on how to do things in

Women in the Military: Is It Time to Un-Gender Combat Roles?

113

their heads. These strategic maps are often in conict with the actual
actions of an individual. In other words, people say one thing and do
another. While on occasion there is deliberate hypocrisy in organizations, very often people and organizations are completely unaware that
they are saying one thing and doing another. The organizational drift
(Coates, 2009) or divergence from espoused values and action can be a
mild drift that corrects itself, but at other times it moves away more
strongly leading to goal distortion or goal neglect (Gouldner, 1959).
Goal distortion can lead to the greater pathology of goal displacement
when parts of the strategic map dissociate from, and lack relationship
to, what actually happens in practice (Merton, 1957)7 (see Figure 8.1).
In such cases, the organization could appear to be hypocritical in the
eyes of many of its constituents, when in fact, the organization is
adapting to survive in an uncertain environment. The idea that the organization is being hypocritical is exacerbated over time, when
espoused values continue to be pronounced by the leadership, despite
evidence to the contrary from the eld.
Goal drift to distortion and displacement often comes about through
the unintentional workings of street-level bureaucrats who make
amendments to policy guidelines while operating in the eld (Lipsky,
1980).8 These come about primarily due to environmental imperatives.
If these policy distortions are either not reversed to be congruent
with policy, or if the policy does not recognize the need to adapt to
environmental conditions, then organizational truth-telling becomes
compromised. It is the job of leadership to dene strategy, provide

Figure 8-1. Goal Drift

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

sense-making of strategy, explain emerging tensions, but also to change


that strategy when it no longer applies in given cases. When this does
not happen, organizational participants perceive the contradictions and
become confused between values and practice.
Distortion of goals from drift to displacement is also true of the
idealized blueprints, or strategies for action, that are developed in complex organizations like the DoD, and this is also true of the case of the
combat exclusion policy. In the case under discussion, the drift is signicantenough to raise questions about the congruence of words to
deeds. It can and it does raise feelings of discomfort and anger because
women in the armed service have elected to put their lives on the
line.9 As argued by Col. Cheri Provancha, This war has proven that
we need to revisit the policy, because they [women] are out there
doing it [serving in combat positions] (2005).10
Why should women care about this issue? Surely it is a good thing
to have protection from harm provided to them as a group? The answer is fourfold. For one thing, there is a need to remain true to the
aphorism of the Soldiers Creed that is taken by both male and female
recruits, alike. It states: I stand ready to deploy, engage and destroy
the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.11
Another, more important issue relates to the development and
acknowledgement of a womans full potential in the armed forces.
Under current policy this is not the case. Today, combat experience is
most often the stepping stone to the highest levels of military service.
Most general ofcers come from careers in the infantry, armor, cannon
eld artillery, short-range air defense artillery, and special forces.
Because these are closed to women, few women serve in the General
Ofcer ranks. It was only in 2008 that a woman, General Ann E.
Dunwoody, was promoted to a four-star ranking. In a provocative
essay dealing with the Army and the combat exclusion rule, Michele
Putko (2008) notes that, seeing few females at the top has a dramatic
effect on the entire female ofcer population. Putko goes on to ask,
Why should female ofcers desire to serve in the Army where there
seems to be reduced opportunities for advancement and where they
cannot be part of the mainstream? Related to this a question can be
raised, is this a form of hidden job discrimination? Regrettably
answers to this question have been clouded by extreme and divisive
arguments on both sides of the issue (Field & Nagl, 2001). The writers
suggest that perhaps those holding conservative views on the role of
women in our society seek to nd a scapegoat for the problems plaguing the military today and thus place exaggerated blame onto females
in combat. Much of the current debate surrounding the presence of
women in the positions in which they now serve is extremist and destructive. We turn now to facts in policy and law, and the espoused
values that the strategic statements embody. A third argument for

Women in the Military: Is It Time to Un-Gender Combat Roles?

115

recognizing women in combat would be to provide appropriate training for women who might nd themselves in combat roles, as did the
women in the documentary lm Lioness. If one is not supposed to
be in combat, there is less training provided. Finally, women in combat
may, and often do, require posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) therapy. However, as the true case of Shannon Morgan who returned with
PTSD from Iraq after being caught in a reght showed in the lm the
therapists did not have the context to help her. Again, this is an issue
of women being invisible.
HISTORY AND LAW
While one may think that women in uniform is a new phenomenon
arising out the Womens Armed Forces Integration Act of 1948,12 and
other civil rights legislation in the twentieth century, and as Mitchell
(1998) asserts political correctness put women in the military
(p. 341),13 in reality, women have served in the military since the Revolutionary War (Lindon, 2008) in positions such as laundry services,
seamstresses, cooks and water bearers, and even spies. It is known that
hundreds of women disguised themselves as men in order to ght
(Willens, 1996) were wounded in battle alongside men. The most wellknown case is that of Deborah Sampson, who took the name of Robert
Surtlief (McSally, 2007). Sampson, it is said, herself cut out a musketball from her thigh rather than go to a doctor and thus reveal her gender. Another woman, Margaret Corbin, took up her slain husbands
position in the artillery after he died at Fort Washington. Corbin was
later wounded herself, and when her gender was discovered she was
discharged (McSally, 2007). Another famous case was that of Lyons
Wakemand, alias Sarah Wakeman, who served in the Civil War. Thus,
while women served in the military, it often was a service provided in
hiding, as the battleeld was seen as a male-centric workplace. Society
was then not able to stomach the very idea of women serving in the
military, getting wounded and killed. Today, even though it is
acknowledged that the service of women is essential to getting the job
done in the military, there are still lingering cultural barriers thrown
up institutionally. For example, Michele Putko (2008) observed that at
the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and other military institutions, there is a distinct combat arms supremacy attitude. Female
cadets at West Point, noted Putko, are often advised by mentors to
join the Military Police Corps which is the closest branch to Infantry
that is open to women. At the same time, there is overt pressure on
males to join combat arms elds, and it is mandatory at West Point
that at least 80 percent do so (Putko, 2008).
In 1973 when Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird made the announcement of the end of the conscription (the draft), and the creation of an

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All-Volunteer Force, a new type of military force arose. The number of


women joining the military increased, but they were still not permitted to
serve in direct combat units or in units that collocated with such. This was
known as the Combat Exclusion Policy or the combat exclusion rule. An
attempt was made to rescind it in 1979 under the Carter Presidency, but
the hearings died quietly, due to lack of support. The Combat Exclusion
Policy was later codied in 1988 into what came to be known as the Risk
Rule, which standardized procedures for women volunteers to be
excluded or protected from service in combat units. As observed by an
ofcer the all volunteer Army cannot afford to needlessly constrain itself
by coding support units as male only because they are on the same base
camp or are habitually in support of a combat unit.14
In 1991, Congresswoman Pat Schroeder introduced a measure to allow
women to y combat missions as Navy and Air Force pilots. The measure
was presented to the House Armed Services Committee, behind closed
doors and with a voice vote, and it passed. In the Defense Authorization
Acts of 1992 and 1993, Congress allowed women to serve on Navy, Air
Force, and Marine aircraft. Secretary of Defense Aspin asked the Services
to study what other possibilities might exist to open up positions to
women. In 1994 the Risk Rule was repealed in response to the changing
nature of warfare.
In 2005 Congressman Duncan Hunter introduced a bill requiring the
Army to restrict women from front lines: . . . in Heavy Infantry Brigade
Combat Teams and equivalent elements of Stryker Brigades, a total of
21,925 spaces currently open to female soldiers would be closed [emphasis
added.] Congressman Hunter was echoing the sentiment of conservatives
that the public would not accept seeing women killed in action. However,
the old sensitivities may be a relic of the past, says Putko (2008).15 To
date more than 60 women have been killed in combat. Also in response to
the conservative viewpoint, Armys Vice Chief of Staff, General Richard
Cody observed that in new theatre of irregular warfare, where there is no
clear front line, women are already serving on the so-called front lines.
He observed that the amendment would cause confusion in the ranks
and send the wrong signal to soldiers ghting in the GWOT. Subsequently, upon receipt of assurances from Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld that DoD would review the assignment of women and provide
a report to Congress, Congressman Hunter reluctantly withdrew his bill.
At the end of the 2005 year, Congress passed compromise legislation that
required the DoD to notify it (Congress) within 30 days if women were
being assigned or collocated16 with ground combat units on the front lines.
The problem is that today the shifting battleeld makes the concept of a
front-line obsolete. As noted by a senior service ofcer: The current
debate surrounding this issue by members of Congress who have never
served a day in uniform is disingenuous to the women who currently
serve in the Iraqi and Afghani AORs (Note #29, USAWC survey).17

Women in the Military: Is It Time to Un-Gender Combat Roles?

117

Nevertheless, the debate around terminology such as collocation,


assignment to, and attachment to linked with the matter of the
shifting battleeld, tends to center around semantics and sophistry in
leadership circuits. So what are the opinions of the women themselves,
and the men about the issue of women in combat, about collocated,
assigned to, attached to, and the reality of irregular war? This
issue was studied at the USAWC via a qualitative and quantitative survey in 2006. The survey results present a useful thermometer of the
perceptions of senior-level ofcers from all branches of the military
and Department of Defense executives.

OBJECTIONS TO SERVICE WOMEN IN


COMBAT-UNDERLYING PREMISES
Biological Thesis
This argument asserts that military service frequently requires physical strength and endurance that not all women can manage. This is an
old, but enduring, argument used in other venues of employment opportunity to restrict the labor of females. Nevertheless, studies have
shown that women can increase strength and endurance with extra
training. The Army Times, July 29, 1996, contended that in the opinion
of experts in stamina studies, some women have the necessary resilience and resistance at the levels of males to greater resistance to fatigue and stress on the physical body. The Army Research Institute of
Environmental Medicine studied women with respect to lifting weights
and jogging with weights and concluded that women were capable of
matching male standards with six months of extra training (Worth,
1999). In the Persian Gulf War, twenty-three women were awarded the
Combat Action Ribbon because they were engaged by Iraqi troops. As
of 2007, women have been killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan,
been captured as prisoners of war, and wounded in battle. The military
now trains all troops in basic combat skills. Given the blurring of lines
on the modern battleeld of irregular warfare, the biological thesis
ceases to be persuasive.
President G.W.H Bushs PCAWAF noted the issue of women and
pregnancy as a cohesion problem. However, since birth control methods
have advanced today to a single shot to make a woman infertile for six
months, this is becoming less of an issue. Also related to the biological
thesis is the motherhood argument that the role of women in society
is that of motherhood and nurturancewhich ensures the continuation
of the human race and the nurturing of its young. As such society has
always accorded special protections to women. It is in this vein that
Congressman Duncan Hunter, Chair of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) argued the American people have never wanted to have

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

women in combat, and this [amendment] reafrms that policy.18 This


statement appears to be a conservative mantra without substance, as
contradicted by public opinion research. A 2003 Gallup Poll found that
8 in 10 Americans think women should either have the opportunity, or
be required to serve the same combat assignments as men do. Conservative activists like Phyllis Schlaffy echo Hunters sentiment. Schlafy has
maintained that, The whole idea of men sending women, including
mothers, out to ght the enemy is uncivilized, degrading, barbaric and
embarrassing to our culture. . . . And furthermore, no one respects a
man who would let a woman do his ghting for him.19
Liberals and pragmatists naturally present counter-claims. Their
observations range from the fact that proportionate to the rest of the
society women in the military make up only a small percentage of
women in the nation to the need for the military to provide exible
deployment strategies and child-care opportunities for pregnant
women and mothers of small children. Also related to the latter is that
both men and women bear equal responsibility for the nurturing and
raising of children (Burrelli, 1996).
The Psychological Thesis
Another argument offered is that women in combat will destroy the
essential espirit de corps that bonds and unies a military organization
in combat. Such destruction, it has been argued, could spell tragedy for
the group. It has also been argued by the PCAWAF women in combat
would add an extra burden to American male soldiers, as their Western value system promotes the protection of women. However, organizational studies have shown that gender is not a factor for group
cohesion, arguing that group bonding is created by investment in, and
commitment to, the goal. This theory contends that it is leadership at
all levels that creates such investments and commitments via the building of motivation and morale within the workforce. A RAND study
(1997) reinforced that gender plays a minimal role in group cohesion
for morale and readiness. In the military combat workplace, as in
other nonmilitary venues, it is actually the goal, or end state, that motivates personnel to perform to accomplish the mission.
Sexual Relationships, Sexual Abuse, and
Gender Harassment Theories
Former Governor Janet Napolitano once noted in the Arizona Star
(2007) that there is a distinctly troubling issue that faces the more
than 160,000 female soldiers who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002. It has been called the double whammy: sexual abuse
and trauma, combined with exposure to combat. Its effects are

Women in the Military: Is It Time to Un-Gender Combat Roles?

119

devastating. While many such statements abound, levels of crime in


the military including sexual harassment are lower than in the civilian
sector.20 It has been noted by sociologist Laura Miller (1997) that gender harassment, rather than sexual harassment, is a more likely manifestation of mens resentment toward women in the military and can
be observed by sabotage, constant scrutiny and making women
prove themselves by making them work harder.21 Again, this phenomenon has been observed in other male-dominated workplaces in
the civilian sector, such as construction. Forced close contact in combat
situations, it is argued, could lead to sexual abuse. However, as argued
by Holm in reference to the Persian Gulf War, men and women serving side-by-side in the Gulf demonstrated that they were capable of
working together as teams; they could be comrades without fraternizing, they could share tents without sharing beds; they could share
common dangers without feigning chivalry.22 Finally, another argument for keeping women out of combat is the fear of them falling into
enemy hands and being sexually abused. However, the counter argument is that women are sexually abused in noncombat positions as
well, and this is no reason to keep them out of combat.
Privacy Infringement Hypothesis
The privacy issue on the battleeld is one that is not compelling
either, as soldiers are trained to operate in meager accommodations
where privacy is severely limited (Wan, 2006). Using the Persian Gulf
War as an example, Holm has further argued that men and women
serving side-by-side in the Gulf, demonstrated that they were capable
of working together as teams; they could be comrades without fraternizing; they could share tents without sharing beds; they could share
common dangers without feigning chivalry (Wan, 1992).
USAWC WOMEN IN COMBAT SURVEY RESEARCH
In 2007, a study was published by the USAWC in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, concerning opinions of senior service leaders from all branches
of the military regarding the issue of women in combat, entitled:
Women in Combat Compendium, at the Strategic Studies Institute, edited
by Johnson and Putko. The compendium included, among other things,
a quantitative research design, using a structured questionnaire. Details
of the survey and its conclusions are shown below.
1. Purpose: The USAWC conducted a survey to determine the perceptions
of U.S. Army War College Students23 regarding the ground combat
exclusion policy of female soldiers in the academic year 2006, published
in 2008.

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2. Format: The survey was a census survey, but it was anonymous and voluntary. The survey consisted of 17 questions, with responses emplaced
within a Likert-type scale.
3. Population: N 300
4. Response Rate/Breakdown: A total of 300 students were surveyed with
a 78 percent response rate. The breakdown by service was as follows:
Army 76 percent; Air Force 8 percent; Marine Corps 6 percent;
Navy 5 percent; Coast Guard 1 percent, and Department of State
1 percent. Males 89 percent and Females 11 percent.
5. Main Outcome Measures: The survey showed that the Army does not
follow the ground combat exclusion policy, and that female soldiers are
engaged in ground combat given the asymmetric nature of the war in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
6. Individual Outcomes, Based on Particular Questions:
.

53 percent perceived the regulation that prohibits females collocating


with direct combat units is rarely enforced or not enforced at all.

70 percent strongly agreed that the regulation prohibiting collocation


of female soldiers with direct combat units should be revised.

63 percent strongly disagreed that female soldiers should NOT be


assigned to direct combat units due to lack of physical strength.

59 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed that female soldiers


should NOT be assigned to combat units due to a lack of co-ed life
support facilities.

57 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed that female soldiers


should NOT be assigned to direct combat units due to perceived lack
of public support.

59 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed that female soldiers


should NOT be assigned to direct combat units due to potential
problems in assimilation or bonding.

78 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed that female soldiers


should NOT be assigned to direct combat units to preclude exposure
to trauma associated with combat.

74 percent strongly agreed or agreed that all soldiers regardless of


gender should be assigned to positions for which they are qualied.

7. Conclusions of the Study: The study concluded that DoD should consider a revision of the female combat exclusion policy to reect a more
realistic view of the current asymmetric nature of warfare and the combat roles female soldiers are currently engaged in (USAWC, 2006).

CONCLUSION
As of September 30, 2008, DoD Manpower Research Statistics, 197,765
women serve on active duty, 163,414 are enlisted personnel, and 34,351
are ofcers. Since the September 11, 2001, attack on America, a total of 103

Women in the Military: Is It Time to Un-Gender Combat Roles?

121

women deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait have lost their lives
(Center for Military Readiness, 2009).24 Most of the soldiers serving in the
Middle East and Afghanistan are in harms way, whether they serve in
artillery, infantry, or armor or not. It is time to give them credit for doing
so, instead of letting their service to the nation y below the radar. Film
Directors Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers (2008) did just this in their
award-winning documentary lm, Lioness: There for the Action, Missing
from History. The lm documents the soldierly solidarity, faith, and duty
of ve of the earliest lionesses who wound up in active ghts in erce
neighborhood conicts in Iraq. Trying to restrict women from the risks of
combat is a awed position, as women already participate in the dangers
of war. Thus, the exclusion of women from combat policy should be
rescinded as voiced by Rep. Sandlin in a March 2009 showing of Lioness.
Is national security being undermined by having women in combat
positions? The positions held against women in combat do make a persuasive arguments, and at the same time evidence from the eld show
that women have served with honor, valor and dedication on the front
lines on a voluntary basis, as consistent with the Soldiers Creed that
each of them took as recruits: I stand ready to deploy, engage and
destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
This statement represents a key espoused value of the militaryservice
in combat, regardless of gender. Because of the attention this issue has
received, not changing espoused values to match enacted values might
be seen as organizational hypocrisy on the part of the DoD. It is time
to un-gender combat roles to reect reality, and thereby and move the
sacrices and valor of women from the place of invisibility to visibility.
In conclusion, some general recommendations can be extrapolated from
this examination of the issue:
. Recognize that strategy (espoused values) and practice (enacted values)
do drift apart as a natural consequence of multivariate intervening factors,
and that such has happened with respect to women in combat. Realize
that incongruence between espoused and enacted values undermine
organizational image, diminish trust among stakeholders and created confusions and contradictions that can degenerate into divisive rhetoric and
shadow boxing.
. Re-examine and Re-align organizational espoused values with enacted experience on a constant basis.
. Rescind the collocation and ground combat exclusion policy to eliminate
double standards, and adopt a gender-neutral policy in its place.

NOTES
1. Memorandum from Secretary of Defense Les Aspin to Armed Service
Secretaries, January 13, 1994, entitled, Direct Ground Combat Denition and
Assignment Rule.

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

2. These noncombat operations are known by many namesStability and


Support Operations, Operations Other Than War, and Peace Operations.
3. Congress, in an attempt to retain oversight of females in combat zones,
passed The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in 2006. The NDAA
requires the Secretary of Defense to notify Congress of any changes to units
and assignments to which women are assigned.
4. Government Accounting Ofce. (1999). Gender Issues: Trends on the
Occupational Distribution of Military Women. Report to the Ranking Minority
member, Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, Committee on
Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
5. Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed
Forces (PCAWAF) noted that there is little doubt that some women could
meet the physical standards for group combat, but the evidence shows that
few women possess the necessary physical requirements.
6. Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed
Forces (PCAWAF), November 15, 1992, Government Printing Ofce.
7. Merton, R. (1957). Social theory and social structure. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.
8. Lipsky, M. (1980). Street-level bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the individual in
public services. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
9. USAWC Survey. (2008). Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, USAWC.
Question #58.
10. For Female GIs Combat is a Fact. Retrieved from www.washingtonpost.
com/wpdyn/content/article/2005/05/12AR20050S51202002.html.
11. The Soldiers Creed. Retrieved from www.army.mil/SoldiersCreed/
ash_version/index.html.
12. Public Law 80625. The Womens Armed Forces Integration Act opened
up places both in the active military as well as reserves in all four services, but
it also placed an enlistment ceiling of 2 percent, and a 10 percent limit on
femaleenlisted personnel becoming ofcers.
13. Mitchell. B. (1998). Women in the military: Flirting with disaster. New York:
Regnery Press.
14. USAWC Survey. (2008). Strategic Studies Institute, USAWC, Carlisle, PA,
Question #49.
15. Putko, C. (2008). USAWC women in combat survey interpretation. Women
in Combat Compendium. Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, Carlisle, PA.
16. Center for Military Readiness. (2006). Collocation is a term that is
widely used in discussions about women in combat. In a simple form, it means
that forward support company personnel embed with infantry and armor
maneuver battalions 100 percent of the time.
17. USAWC Survey. (2008). Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, USAWC.
Question #29.
18. Wilkie, D., & Kreisher, O. (2005, May 18, 2005). Hunter plan bars women
from Army forward support. Copley News.
19. Schlaffy, P. Women in military combat? What it means for American
culture and defense. Heritage Lecture, #317.
20. Wan, S. (2006). Womens role in combat: Is ground combat the next
front? Journal of Academic Writing, 4.
21. Miller, L. (1997). Not just weapons for the weak: Gender harassment as a
form of protest for Army men. Sociology Quarterly, 60, 3738.

Women in the Military: Is It Time to Un-Gender Combat Roles?

123

22. Holm, J. (1992). Women in the military: An unnished revolution. Novato,


CA: Presidio Press.
23. Study body consists of all military services of ranks at Colonels and LT
Colonels.
24. Center for Military Readiness. (2009, March 19). Grim toll of military
women killed in war.

REFERENCES
Aspin, L. (1994). Direct ground combat denition and assignment rule. Memorandum, January 13, 1994. Washington, DC: Department of Defense.
Botters, R. J. (2008). How the Army can meet the intent of policy and statute
on ground combat exclusion for women. Women in Combat Compendium.
Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College.
Center for Military Readiness (2006). Women in Combat: Background and facts
women in or near land combat. www.cmrnotes.org/WomenInCombat.
asp?docID271. Accessed August 25, 2009.
Coates, B. E. (2009, April). Concept of goal drift. Presented at The College
of Business and Public Administration, California State University, San
Bernadino, CA.
Field, K., & Nagl, J. (2001). Combat roles for women: A modest proposal.
Parameters. Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College.
Gouldner, A. (1959). Organizational analysis. In R. Merton, L. Broom, & L.
Cottrell (Eds.), Sociology Today (pp. 423426). New York: Basic Books.
Government Accounting Ofce. (1999). Gender issues: Trends on the occupational
distribution of military women. Report to the Ranking Minority member,
Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, Committee on
Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
McSally, M. (2007, May 1). Women in combat: Is the current policy obsolete?
Duke Law Journal of Gender Law and Policy, 14, 10111059.
Merton, R. (1957). Social theory and social structure. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.
Miller, L. (1997). Not just weapons for the weak: Gender harassment as a form
of protest for Army men. Sociology Quarterly, 60, 3738.
Mitchell, B. (1998). Women in the military: Flirting with disaster. New York:
Regnery Press.
Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces.
(1992). Washington, DC: Government Printing Ofce.
Schlaffy, P. (1991, June 3). Women in military combat? What it means for
American culture and defense. Heritage Lecture, 317.
The Soldiers Creed. Retrieved August 2, 1999 from www.army.mil/Soldiers
Creed/ash_version/index.html.
The Womens Armed Forces Integration Act. (1948). Public Law 80-625. June
12, 1948, U.S. Congress, Washington, DC.
Tyson, A. S. (2005). For female GIs, combat is a fact: Many duties put women
at risk despite restrictive policy. www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2005/05/12AR20050S51202002.html.
Wan, S. (2006). Womens role in combat: Is ground combat the next front?
Journal of Academic Writing.

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Wilkie, D., & Kreisher, O. (2005, May 18). Hunter plan bars women from Army
forward support. Copley News, retrieved from http://www.signonsandiego.
com/uniontrib/20050518/news_1n18hunter.
Willens, J. (1996). Women in the military: Combat roles considered. Washington,
DC: Center for Defense Information.
United States Army War College (USAWC). Public Affairs Ofce (PAO) Fact
Sheet. Carlisle Barracks, PA: USAWC.
United States Army War College (USAWC). (2008). Survey. Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, USAWC.
U.S. Congress. (2006). National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 5122, also
known as the John Warner Act 2006.
Worth, R. (1999). Women in combat: The battle for equality. Berkeley Heightws,
NJ: Enslow Publishers.

Chapter 9

Sexual Minority Women: Sources and


Outcomes of Stigmatization
Rhonda M. Schultz
Kristin P. Beals

In undertaking an investigation into female same-sex sexual practices


across continents, nations, and cultures, it is imperative that investigators
rst garner an understanding of the specic political, historical, and
sociological factors surrounding these behaviors and/or identities. The
terms lesbian and bisexual used in Western society for the identities
surrounding some female same-sex sexual practices are tied to Western
ideas of individualism and are not applicable in cultures where sexual
identities may not be relevant. It is also important to keep in mind
that identity and individualism are cultural constructs and not delimiters
of advanced cultural evolution. The existence of a lesbian identity in
Western society does not indicate that we have progressed beyond
other societies in which no such moniker exists. In addition, the majority
of quantitative research available on outcomes of the repression of samesex sexual behavior has been conducted on samples comprised primarily
of individuals in Western nations and lesbian-identied women. While
the authors of this specic chapter have attempted to write and operate
with these understandings in mind, we cannot fully negate our own
individual histories and implicit cultural perspectives. Our resources,
expertise, and experiences have all been derived primarily from U.S.
sources and are therefore tinctured by the values and customs of Western society. Similarly, our backgrounds in research are limited to the
domain of psychology; therefore, our research perspectives may be more
heavily weighted in this area. While we have attempted to incorporate

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some scholarship from queer and cultural studies into this chapter, the
bulk of the resources cited have been derived from psychological books
and journals.
UNDERSTANDING STIGMA
This chapter aims to discuss stigma against women who engage in
same-sex sexual practices or adopt a lesbian identity. Stigma is a
powerful tool of oppression throughout the world, which can be used
in many ways, for many reasons, and by many different groups. It is
important to rst identify what stigma is, where it comes from, and
what purpose it may serve in a given society. A common linguistic
mistake to make in English is to use the terms stigma, stereotype, prejudice, and discrimination interchangeably. While these terms do bear
some relationship to one another, they actually all represent somewhat
different constructs.
Stigma
Stigma refers to the devaluation of individuals within a group based
on some discernable characteristic or mark. In order for stigma to exist,
two fundamental elements must be present: there must be some distinguishing feature that is recognizable and serves as a delimiter of difference, and some devaluation of the individual (Dovidio, Major, &
Crocker, 2000). Devaluation of stigmatized individuals refers to the
beliefs that these persons are less than human, spoiled, defective, or
inferior. Goffman (1963) hypothesized that stigmas are attached to
three different types of conditions: physical deformities, tribal identities (race, religion, nationality, or sex), and blemishes of character
or weak will (imprisonment, unnatural passions, unemployment,
mental health problems). Lesbianism or same-sex sexuality would fall
under the nal category of weak will, as it has been viewed by many
as both an unnatural passion and a mental health problem, in spite
of the fact that the American Psychological Association has not considered it such in over 36 years.
Recently, it has been argued that the two most important features of
stigma are how visible or concealable they are and their perceived controllability (Dovidio et al., 2000). It appears that if one can hide their
stigmatized characteristic or if they cannot be blamed for having it,
they will be allowed to pass. This brings to light the two-sided nature of stigma. Stigmatization is not a one-way process, and the stigmatized are not simply helpless, passive objects upon which stigma is
placed. The reaction of the stigmatized is integral to the process of stigmatization (Goffman, 1963). Stigmatized individuals may shun their
stigma, nding it ludicrous or misplaced, thereby rendering it less

Sexual Minority Women: Sources and Outcomes of Stigmatization

127

effective. They may also accept the stigma, internalize it, or focus heavily on it, increasing its power to harm. Internalization of the stigma
against lesbians by lesbians is commonly referred to as internalized
homonegativity and will be discussed in a later section.
Judging from the variety of conditions outlined earlier, it appears
obvious that most people will fall into at least one stigmatized group
at some point in their lives. Yet stigma persists in almost all societies
possibly because they may serve to enhance the lives of stigmatizers in
a number of ways (Dovidio et al., 2000). Stigmatizing others can raise
ones own self-esteem, relieve anxiety, and create a perception of control. In addition, stigmatization can also serve to reinforce a cultures
norms. We will explore the various norms and institutions within different cultures that contribute to the stigmatization of lesbians and
women who engage in same-sex sexual behavior.
Prejudice
Prejudice can be dened as an irrational and rigid belief about a
group of people, which can be either positive or negative. For example,
one can have a positive prejudice toward the group she considers herself a part of and a negative prejudice toward all members of another
group. Unlike stigma, prejudice can extend to any type of behavior or
identity and is not conned to social deviance. However, prejudice and
stigma are strongly linked to one another and share a great deal of
overlap in terms of application and measurement (Phelan, Link, &
Dovidio, 2008). Prejudice tends to be viewed as an attitude toward a
specic group of people. General acceptance for all heterosexuals and a
disdain for lesbians would be an example of such a prejudicial attitude.
People with prejudicial attitudes may ignore or fail to notice individual
differences between members of a group. Someone who holds a prejudicial attitude toward lesbians, for example, may view a shy, passive
woman who identies as lesbian, as not being a real lesbian. This
would be an example of a stereotype that all lesbians are aggressive
and pushy.
Stereotyping
Stereotyping is a cognitive process by which one attributes certain
characteristics to certain groups of people. According to Allport (1954),
the vast diversity and complexity of the world around us makes it
impossible to hold accurate concepts of everything in existence. While
human beings need some sense of understanding to function in the
world, complete understanding of everything is impossible. Therefore,
we tend to create some well-formed categories consisting of more complex, comprehensive understandings and other malformed categories

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consisting of shaky and simplistic components (Allport, 1954). For


example, one may hold the stereotype that all bees are black and yellow. While having a simplistic understanding of bees is probably not
going to cause any trouble to the individual that holds this understanding or to bees in general, having a simplistic understanding about certain groups of people will. When a stereotype makes one unable to see
individual differences within groups of people, a stereotype becomes
maladaptive and likely harmful. The stereotype in the U.S. that lesbians are highly masculine women fails to address the vast differences
in gender expression within the lesbian community, errantly excluding
many individuals who identify as lesbian and including many individuals who do not.
The employment of prejudicial attitudes and stereotyping can lead
to discriminatory behaviors. Discrimination is dened as treating people differently because of their membership to a certain group. Similar
to prejudice, discrimination does not necessarily mean that one treats a
certain group negatively; it can also mean that a group is treated more
positively. Unfortunately, when referring to the treatment of lesbians,
discrimination generally refers to a negative behavior such as exclusion
or mistreatment. Discrimination can manifest interpersonally, institutionally, and/or culturally (Whitley & Kite, 2006). Individuals can be
discriminated against by other individuals and/or groups, policies and
laws, or cultural norms and values. Discriminatory behaviors against
lesbians can have severe consequences on the lives of the women they
are targeted toward and the societies in which they take place.

SOURCES OF STIGMA
Religion
In many countries, some religious groups provide a great deal of
fuel for the stigma against lesbians and women who engage in samesex sexual behavior (Miracle, Miracle, & Baumeister, 2003). While
same-sex sexual behavior is generally viewed as unnatural and intolerable by most religions, there are a few exceptions in the United States
where it is accepted, even blessed, according to the San Francisco
Chronicle (as cited in Miracle, et al., 2003). However, the report appears
bleak for most other religions, with homosexual acts being overwhelmingly condemned by virtually all other major religious institutions,
such as Catholicism, Mainstream Christianity, Mormonism, Muslimism,
and Orthodox and Conservative Judaism. In spite of reported ambiguity in the Quaran regarding the morality of homosexuality, 26
Muslim countries condemn homosexual acts, and 7 of them do so with
the threat of the death penalty (Helie, 2004). This widespread disdain
for homosexual identities and behaviors has been linked to Christian

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and Islamic proselytizing throughout the world over the course of time
and the subsequent dissemination of repressive beliefs about sexuality
in general (Miracle et al., 2003). The far-ung disapproval and even
contempt expressed by many religious organizations has become a
painful source of stigma against lesbians and has often isolated them
from a powerful source of support and happiness: religion (Ferriss,
2002; Yakushko, 2005). In Yakushkos (2005) study of 82 lesbian, gay,
and bisexual (LGB) participants, those who attended churches they
perceived as conservative reported greater stress surrounding their
LGB identities and lower self-esteem than those attending churches
that fully accepted their LGB identity. The often painful experience
of being shunned by these hegemonic institutions can be heard in the
voice of a 26-year-old Kenyan woman:
I am Christian by religion and this has been a great challenge for me. All
my family have entered religion very deeply despite my father being initially Hindu, so I choose to ignore religion and follow what my heart
desires. I have always believed that if one has love in ones heart that is
what matters. I stopped going to church because I used to leave feeling
like a sinner. (Baraka & Morgan, 2005, p. 39)

Westernization
In some non-Western parts of the world, same-sex sexuality is considered a perversion sent from Western countries. Because Western
countries are viewed as being accepting of homosexuality (however
inaccurate this perception may be), same-sex sexual practices are often
viewed as being another grand overindulgence of the decadent West.
This means that oftentimes same-sex sexuality will be stigmatized as a
betrayal of ones nation or heritage (Blackwood & Wieringa, 1999). Little is known about the effects of this specic stigma on lesbians in
these areas, but some information has been garnered from interviews
and other research. One example is that of reactions to a hate-lled
anti-gay speech made by Zimbabwean president Mugabe at the Zimbabwean International Book Fair in 1995. In addition to a number of
cruel, scathing comments made in this speech about the LGB community, Mugabe articulated his sentiment that same-sex sexual behavior is
the sole purveyance of Americans and that such ways are stupid and
foolish (Aarmo, 1999). While many members of the lesbian community reported being scared and forced into hiding, some lesbians in
attendance at the book fair stated that they had felt free and nally
able to express themselves (Aarmo, 1999).
A recent example of same-sex sexuality being viewed as the inuence of other nations can be intuited from statements made by the
Ethics Minister of Uganda. The United Nations (UN) has recently been

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organizing nations to help decriminalize homosexuality around the


world, an effort that has been met with anger by some nations where
same-sex sexual practices are a punishable crime. One article reported
that in response to the UNs efforts, Ugandas Ethics Minister, James
Nsaba Buturo announced that the UN was endorsing what he called
attempts by some nations to impose homosexuality on the rest of us
(UN spreading homosexuality, 2009). Male homosexuality is explicitly
illegal in Uganda and is punishable by life imprisonment. While the
law does not criminalize lesbianism specically, it can be intuited
as such (Nagadya & Morgan, 2005). Homosexuality is considered unAfrican and a threat to the family in Uganda. This is also true for
many other parts of Africa, except South Africa where gay marriage
and adoption by same-sex partners are both legal practices.
TRIPLE MINORITY STATUS
Recently, research investigating the experiences of ethnic minority
LGB individuals in Western countries has begun to surface, which may
lend some insight into certain cultural beliefs. However, the literature
is scant, as most researchers interested in LGB populations have generally failed to address this aspect of identity in their research. Lesbians
of color experience triple minority status or triple jeopardy in Western
society because of their status as sexual, ethnic, and gender minorities.
The experience of being a lesbian woman of color in a sexist, racist,
heterocentrist society could be a difcult experience for many lesbians
of color. This subject is a tricky research topic, as it is most likely that
these identities are not islands, but are interrelated and share some
overlap. For example, it would seem difcult to isolate ones lesbian
identity from ones female identity, and because of this it may also be
difcult to separately test the factors surrounding each (Bowleg, 2008).
Many ethnic and racial minority groups in America may suffer from
what is called fear of extinction (Greene, 1995). This fear leads members of these groups to believe that reproduction is a necessary part of
a womans existence because without it, the survival of the group is
threatened. The stigma against lesbianism may be aided by these specic cultural beliefs and create additional stress against racial and ethnic minority women (Greene, 1995). Another issue relevant to ethnic
and racial minority lesbians is that of the perceived whiteness of the
gay and lesbian identities in the United States (Harper & Schneider,
2003). The homosexual identity in the United States has been painted
and perceived as a predominantly Caucasian identity and as such,
adopting this identity as a racial or ethnic minority may be perceived
as a betrayal to ones community (Greene, 1995). Some ethnic minority
lesbians voice the belief that they have to make a choice between their
sexual identity and their ethnic identity, seeming to feel that the two

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131

cannot coexist within one person (Espin, 1987). In addition to these


stressors, issues of class and religion can also complicate the lives of
many women living as triple minorities.

MINORITY STRESS THEORY


In recent years, researchers interested in the health and well-being
of LGB individuals have begun using the concept of minority stress to
guide some of their research. The framework of minority stress delineates the various sources of stress that LGB persons may be vulnerable
to and the techniques these individuals may employ to cope with this
stress (Brooks, 1981; Meyer, 2003). Meyer has conceptualized LGB minority stress as a group of three different sources of stress: the experience of stigma and discrimination, anticipated stigma/discrimination,
and internalized homonegativity. These experiences can lead individuals to utilize coping or resilience mechanisms as a means by which to
counteract the negative effects of minority stress (Brooks, 1981; Russell,
2003).

THE EXPERIENCE OF DISCRIMINATION


One of the key components to minority stress is the experience of
discrimination. Discrimination against LGB individuals occurs in any
number of situations, such as employment, housing, health care, and
ostracism from friends and family or legal rights such as adoption,
marriage, and military service. In extreme cases, discrimination can
mean that same-sex sexual relationships and behaviors have been
made illegal and punishable by imprisonment, violence, or death.
There are also instances of groups and individuals within societies
who beat, rape, or even murder lesbians or women who engage in
same-sex sexual behaviors. A 2001 Kaiser Family Foundation report
found that a majority of the general American public believes that LGB
individuals experience a lot of prejudice and discrimination. When
polled about their perceptions of the amount of discrimination they
believe they have experienced, 85 percent of lesbians and gay men
claimed to have experienced some kind of prejudice or discrimination
in their lifetimes (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2001). In this same study,
76 percent of LGB participants reported being discriminated against or
knowing someone who has been discriminated against in the areas of
employment (nding or keeping a job), applying to school (university
or other), housing (renting or buying), health care, or military service.
In addition to these disappointing ndings, the study also reported
that 74 percent of LGB participants reported having been verbally
assaulted and 32 percent had been the targets of physical violence.

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Expected Discrimination
The experience of discrimination may lead those who are discriminated against to come to expect discrimination from others. The belief
that one will come to experience prejudice or discrimination has been
referred to as stigma consciousness (Pinel, 1999). In Pinels work, lesbians and gay men high in stigma consciousness were more likely to
have greater self-consciousness and to worry about how others viewed
them. Other studies have linked stigma consciousness to a variety of
negative outcomes. One study found that stigma consciousness is
related to internalized homophobia, physical complaints, lesbianrelated stress (stress perceived to be brought on specically because of
lesbian identity), negative mood, and intrusive thoughts (Lewis, Derlega, Clarke, & Kuang, 2006).

Internalized Homonegativity
The stigma attached to homosexuality is often consciously or unconsciously adopted by the stigmatized themselves. When LGB people
internalize the stigmas and negative attitudes held by society about
their behaviors and identities, it is referred to as internalized homonegativity, internalized homophobia, or internalized heterosexism. The
experience of internalized homonegativity has been associated with a
greater risk for a number of mental and physical health problems. In a
sample of 157 U.S. lesbians, researchers found that internalized homonegativity was correlated with a number of mental health problems. In
this study, which developed a separate scale for lesbian internalized
homonegativity (LIH), LIH was highly correlated with lower selfesteem, depression, lower satisfaction with social support, and a higher
number of somatic complaints (Szymanski, Chung, & Balsam, 2001).
Internalized homonegativity has also been correlated with a number of
self-destructive behaviors in lesbians, including suicide, self-mutilation,
risky sexual behaviors, and alcoholism (Williamson, 2000). These studies lead us to believe that internalized homonegativity has the potential
to be a extremely destructive force in the lives of some lesbians and
most likely occurs because of the stigma attached to same-sex practice.
The negative effects of internalized homonegativity can also carry
over into lesbian relationships. Holding negative beliefs about ones own
sexuality may cause some LGB individuals to feel less satised or positive about their romantic relationships. LIH has been found to be associated with a decrease in satisfaction with romantic relationships and
a decrease in attraction toward ones partner (Mohr & Daly, 2008). In
a qualitative study of 40 same-sex couples, half of which were female, a
little less than half of the couples reported themes of internalized homonegativity toward themselves or their relationships (Rostosky, Riggle,
Gray, and Hatton, 2007). One in four of couples in this study articulated

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133

low expectations for the durability of their relationship. One couple cited
the lack of social support around them stating that this factor may cause
them to feel that the relationship was bound for failure (Rostosky et al.,
2007). It seems logical that in a society where there is not only little support for your relationship, but outright hostility toward it, the possibility
of a break up may seem more likely.
Internalized homonegativity has also been highly correlated with
intimate partner violence among lesbian couples (Balsam & Syzmanski,
2005). It is believed that individuals that hold negative beliefs about
homosexuals are more likely to act violently toward them. This can
unfortunately mean that LGB persons high in internalized homonegativity are more likely to act violently toward members of their own
community, including their partners (Balsam & Syzmanski, 2005). Intimate partner violence may be yet another devastating force threatening
the health and safety of lesbians and their romantic relationships.
The experience of internalized homonegativity may not be isolated
to individualistic, Western cultures. It cannot be known at this time
whether lesbians or women who engage in same-sex sexual behaviors
in collectivistic cultures experience internalized homophobia because
there is a paucity of literature or research on this subject. There is some
evidence that these processes may be present in the Damara community of Namibia, as might be intuited by some excerpts from interviews
conducted with women who have sex with women there:
She hated me, sometimes the same kind hate each other. Once she called me
and beat me up in her classroom, saying What kind of child is this that is
acting like a boy?. . . This teacher, she became the school principal there and
is now together with another sister. (Khaxas & Wieringa, 2005, p. 137)
She told me about caressing and kissing and she told me that she felt that
she was my girlfriend and that I was her man, but because of youthful
shame I did not say something . . . When I got home I thought, to do this in
the Bible schoolyard I have done a big sin. (Khaxas & Wieringa, 2005, p. 136)

Although there are a number of texts investigating the stigma


against same-sex practices in various parts of the world, few address
the issue of the internalization of this stigma. The question as to
whether this experience is tied to identity seems to remain to be
answered. This answer may be difcult to obtain given the quiet, hidden nature of same-sex practices in many cultures, which could be a
reason for the gap in research in this area.

CONSEQUENCES OF STIGMA
Stigma and discrimination impact lesbian and bisexual women in a
number of ways. In the next section of this chapter we will discuss the
legal, nancial, social, and health impacts for lesbian and bisexual women.

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Legal and Economic Impact for Same-sex Female Couples


Because lesbian couples are denied a number of rights that are
afforded heterosexual couples, all-female couples have increased nancial and legal burdens. For example, in states and countries that do not
give same-sex couples marriage or marriage-like rights, gay and lesbian
couples often have to pay lawyers to secure some of the most basic
legal protections (e.g. living wills, power of attorneys, health directives). Same-sex couples also face additional legal costs in completing
second-parent adoptions. These same costs are not accrued by heterosexual couples.
In the United States and many other countries, tax systems treat
same-sex couples as if they were complete strangers. In a recent report
from the Williams Institute, Goldberg and Badgett (2009) report that
same-sex couples often pay more in taxes. This occurs for a number of
reasons. First, same-sex couples in the United States are taxed on
health insurance benets provided to a partner by an employer. This
adds an estimated $1,000 to the taxes of same-sex families. Additionally, same-sex couples often must pay estate taxes or gift taxes that opposite-sex couples are exempt from paying. Same-sex couples who pay
taxes their whole lives are denied equal social security benets upon
retirement and the death of a partner. This is estimated to cost the surviving partner of a same-sex couple on average about $8,000 a year
(Furnas & Rosenthal, 2009). This brief summary highlights some of the
inequities in the nancial and legal system between same-sex and different-sex couples.

Social Costs for Sexual Minority Women


In addition to the legal and economic costs of stigma against lesbian
and bisexual women, there are innumerable social costs. Being stigmatized for being a sexual minority is unlike being stigmatized because of
ones racial, ethnic, or religious group membership, because often a
sexual minority individual does not share that identity with any immediate family members. Instead of feeling connected to ones family, lesbian and bisexual individuals may feel very isolated. Often times,
sexual minority individuals must create their own communities of supportive others. In one study of gay and lesbian participants, it was
found that only 33 percent of mothers and fathers were rated as very
accepting of their childrens sexual orientation (Beals & Peplau, 2006).
Added to the possible isolation from family members, lesbian and
bisexual women may also feel isolated from their spiritual or religious
communities. As discussed earlier, traditional religious views often
endorse anti-gay attitudes. It can be very difcult for sexual minority
women if they feel they must choose between being true to themselves

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and their religious background. Bryant and Demian, (1994) found that
out of 12 possible sources of support, sexual minority individuals rated
church as the least supportive and the most hostile. In a qualitative
study of 14 same-sex couples and their lived experiences with religion,
Rostosky, Riggle, Brodnicki, and Olson (2008) concluded that heavy
reliance on social support from family and religious communities may
exacerbate minority stress in ethnic minority and religious minority
GLB individuals who want to integrate their religious and same-sex
relational values.
Lesbian women may also feel socially isolated at places of employment. In most states in the United States, lesbian and bisexual women
can still be red for their identity and as a result, may hide their identity, thus isolating themselves. This experience is epitomized in the
U.S. militarys Dont Ask, Dont Tell policy, which forces U. S. service members to silence themselves, forgo social support for their identity and the possibility of building community. The social costs to
lesbian and bisexual women are often innumerable.
Mental and Physical Health
Sexual minority women have higher rates of a number of physical
health and mental health concerns. Actual and perceived discrimination has been found to account for a large proportion of the disparity
(Mays & Cochran, 2001). We will rst describe several of the barriers
to health prevention and care services. Next we will discuss the known
mental health and physical health disparities.
History of the Study of Lesbian Health Disparities
The burgeoning gay rights movement in the United States in the
1960s and 1970s began to take notice of the existence of health disparities for sexual minority women and men. As a result, a number of
community-based health centers began to emerge to provide sensitive
care to the sexual minority population (Mayer et al., 2008). At the same
time, a number of clinicians and doctors began to recognize that their
sexual minority patients had unique needs because of the hostile and
homophobic environment in which they live. In 1973, the American
Psychiatric Association recognized that homosexuality was not a psychiatric illness and removed the diagnosis from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). However, removal from the manual did not
eliminate the prejudice and sometimes toxic environments in which
sexual minority individuals live.
The Institute of Medicine in 1999 issued a call for more populationbased research to understand the clinical problems in the lesbian community. Community groups lobbied hard to have the government

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follow through on the Institute of Medicines report. Importantly, the


Department of Health and Human Services recognized the importance
of this and included lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)
health in their goals for the Healthy People 2010 initiative. This momentum has led to increased information and educational materials
(e.g., The Fenway Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender
Health) for caregivers, physicians, and clinicians.
Barriers to Health Care
Research has demonstrated that lesbian and bisexual women often
encounter barriers to receiving timely and adequate health care (Diamant, Wold, Spritzer, & Gelberg, 2000; Mayer et al., 2008). For example,
in Diamant and collegues study, only 34 percent of heterosexual
women reported difculty getting care, while 47 percent of lesbians
and 53 percent of bisexual women reported this problem.
Mayer et al. (2008) outlined four broad areas of barriers to accessing
healthcare. These included (1) reluctance to disclose sexual orientation
to providers, (2) lack of LGBT knowledge and competency on the part
of providers, (3) structural barriers to health insurance and visiting and
decision making rights for LGBT people and their partners, and (4)
lack of culturally appropriate prevention services. As Mayer and colleagues point out, each of these is troublesome alone, but the combination of these can be disastrous for the health and well-being of sexual
minority individuals.
Often, sexual minority women do not disclose their sexual orientation to a health care provider. These decisions often affect health care
from a very early age. In a study of disclosure to physicians by LGB
youth, it was found that only 35 percent had disclosed their sexual orientation to their physician (Meckler, Elliot, Kanouse, Beals, & Schuster,
2006). Participants cited condentiality concerns as a reason for not disclosing. Interestingly, participants reported that they would be more
likely to disclose if the physician would just ask. In another study,
MacEwan (1994) found that to avoid the possibility of biased care, lesbian and gay participants did not disclose their sexual orientation in
alcohol treatment settings. Nondisclosure may mean missed opportunities for a provider to offer specic care such as appropriate health and
sex education, screening tests, and discuss individual risks (Meckler et
al., 2006).
Of course, disclosure will only be benecial to the receipt of appropriate and adequate health care if the physician responds in a culturally sensitive and knowledgeable way. Several studies have found that
physicians, like other people, have biases toward sexual minorities.
Research has demonstrated that even well-intentioned service providers may behave differently with lesbian patients or clients (Brown,

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137

1996). In fact, Cochran (2001) noted that several researchers have identied attitudinal and behavioral responses on the part of providers to
disclosure by sexual minority clients. For example, a practitioner may
focus too much or too little on sexual orientation in therapy (MacEwan,
1994), avoid topics that make him/her uncomfortable (Hardman, 1997),
and be unable to recall information that the client provided (Gelso, Fassinger, Gomez, & Latts, 1995). All of these consequences of homonegativity are thought to result in a lower quality of care (Garnets,
Hancock, Cochran, Goodchilds, & Peplau, 1991). One consequence of
lesbian and bisexual women having physicians that lack knowledge
and sensitivity is lower satisfaction with source of health care (Diamant
et al., 2000). This lower satisfaction may in turn lead to sexual minority
women choosing to delay or avoid health care.
The third barrier is more structural and legal in nature than the rst
two. Cochran and colleagues (2001) found that compared to similarly
matched women, lesbians were less likely to have health insurance
than their heterosexual counterparts. Many sexual minority women do
not have access to quality health care because they are denied insurance benets through a partners employment. Even if an employer
allows a same-sex partner to be insured, the federal government then
taxes the benet as income, thus costing the couple valuable resources and possible forcing some people to forego coverage. In a
study utilizing the federal governments population survey, Ash and
Badgett (2006) found that 18 percent of individuals in same-sex romantic relationships lacked health care compared to 11 percent of married
heterosexual individuals. Furthermore, even when a partner has insurance, the other partner in a same-sex relationship is still uninsured 15
percent of the time, compared to 4 percent of married partners. In
other words, lesbian and bisexual women are less likely to be insured
than their heterosexual counterparts. As a result, lesbian and bisexual
women are much more likely to forego health services because of nancial reasons (Diamant et al., 2000). This translates into less preventative care and a more likely chance that acute issues become chronic.
In addition, because many states to not recognize same-sex relationships with the same legal standing as marriage, partners are often not
allowed visiting rights and decision-making powers, which can impede
care provided. This varies greatly state by state, but most states do not
have any legal protection for same-sex couples. In the United States,
only four states allow same-sex marriages (with another 10 having
some form of legal protection). Around the world, only seven countries
perform same-sex marriages, with another four recognizing same-sex
marriages performed elsewhere. Women who are in relationships with
other women are often denied the legal protections that are granted to
heterosexual relationships. Some of these legal protections aid in
receiving quality and culturally sensitive health care.

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Finally, Mayer et al. (2008) identied the lack of LGBT-specic prevention services as a barrier to quality health care. There is a dearth of
services that deal with the effects of a stigmatizing society. These
include a lack of services that target negative health behaviors and the
increased prevalence of mental and physical health issues in the LGBT
community.
In summary, because of the stigma of a sexual minority status, many
barriers exist to receiving timely and adequate healthcare. This failure
to receive timely and adequate healthcare may translate into greater
mental and physical health disparities between heterosexual and lesbian/bisexual women. In the following section, the research on existing
health disparities is described.
Mental Health Disparities
Early work by Evelyn Hooker in the 1950s with small community
samples found no differences in the psychological adjustment of sexual
minority individuals and heterosexuals (Hooker, 1993). This work was
critical to the removal of homosexuality as a psychiatric diagnosis
(Cochran, 2001). However, in the years since Hookers important work,
large representative samples have revealed that lesbians and gay men
have a higher prevalence rate of certain mental health disorders. In
particular, sexual minority individuals appear especially susceptible to
the disorders that are most sensitive to minority stress (Cochran, 2001).
These include depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders
(Cochran, Sullivan, & Mays, 2003).
A number of large-scale, nationally representative samples have
found that lesbian and bisexual women have higher rates of certain psychiatric syndromes than heterosexual women (e.g., Cochran & Mays,
2000; Gilman, Cochran, & Mays, 2001; Sandfort, de Graaf, Bijl, & Schnabel, 2001). Furthermore, lesbian women were more likely than heterosexual women to have used mental health services in the prior year
(Cochran, 2001; Cochran et al., 2003). In a large survey of women in Los
Angeles County, Diamant and Wold (2003) found that lesbians reported
more poor mental health days when compared to heterosexual women.
A number of studies have used population-based surveys to extrapolate
rates of disorders among lesbian and bisexual women. The evidence is
quite strong that sexual minority women experience higher rates of certain disorders as a result of prejudice and stigma in society.
Depression and Anxiety Disorders
In a nationally representative sample of middle-aged adults in the
contiguous United States, lesbian and bisexual women reported higher
prevalence of anxiety disorder and greater likelihood of having a second

Sexual Minority Women: Sources and Outcomes of Stigmatization

139

co-morbid disorder compared to heterosexual women (Cochran et al.,


2003). In a more recent study of Latino and Asian American adults
(Cochran, Mays, Alegria, Ortega, & Takeuchi, 2007), 6.4 percent of
female participants identied as lesbian or bisexual (or reported recent
same-sex sexual behavior). Those participants identied as lesbian or
bisexual were more likely to have evidenced recent and lifetime history
of depressive disorders compared to their heterosexual counterparts.
Furthermore, research has found that lesbian women who report
depression are more likely to be taking medication for depression than
heterosexual women who report depression (Diamant & Wold, 2003).
This may signal that the lesbian women are experiencing more severe
depression or have fewer ways to cope with depression than heterosexual women.
This depression may at times manifest itself in a higher incidence of
suicide attempts among sexual minority women. These data can be
very difcult to interpret for a number of reasons, including identifying
sexual orientation of participants. However, there is some evidence that
lesbian and bisexual women may have slightly higher suicide attempt
rates compared to heterosexual women. In a study of Asian and Latino
women, those identifying as lesbian or bisexual were marginally more
likely to have attempted suicide than the heterosexual participants
(Cochran et al., 2007).
Drug Dependency
Often individuals use and abuse drugs as a way to cope with depression, anxiety, and stigma. A number of research studies have indicated
that women who have female sexual partners are at greater risk of illicit
drug use (e.g., Cochran, Ackerman, Mays, & Ross, 2004; Crothers, Haller, Benton, & Haag, 2008; Sandfort et al., 2001). Reports have provided
greater evidence of lifetime use of a number of drugs including stimulants, tranquilizers, cocaine, and marijuana. Similar ndings also
emerged for use in the prior month. This use seems to translate into
more drug dependency disorders. For example, Cochran and Mays
(2000) found that the lesbian women in their sample were more likely to
have drug and alcohol dependency syndromes. In a nationally representative sample of Asian and Latino adults, lesbian and bisexual women
were more likely to have a recent history of a drug use disorder (Cochran et al., 2007). In a study of 2,011 lesbian and bisexual women living
in California (Corliss, Grella, Mays, & Cochran, 2006), it was found that
27 percent of women showed lifetime patterns of drug use that were
categorized as either high or moderate risk. Approximately 40 percent of
women with more problematic drug use had sought professional services. Interestingly, for these women, living with a romantic partner acted
as a protective factor against drug use.

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In a more generalized study that compared lesbian and bisexual


women from seven different studies around the United States with
standardized samples of women, it was found that lesbian and bisexual women had greater alcohol use than the general population of
women (Cochran et al., 2000). In the United States, the research suggests that women who identify as sexual minorities use and abuse alcohol and drugs at higher rates than women who identify as
heterosexual. It appears that living in a society that stigmatizes women
for forming relationships with other women may push these women to
use drugs and alcohol as one way to cope with the stigma. As we will
see in the next section, drug and alcohol use may translate into greater
physical health concerns among sexual minority women.
Physical Health Disparities
In addition to mental health disparities between heterosexual and
sexual minority women, research has also found a number of physical
health disparities. The root of these disparities is complex, but part of
the explanation is likely the barriers to health care discussed above and
specic behavioral risk factors and preventative practices associated
with a sexual minority identity.
BEHAVIORAL RISK FACTORS AND PREVENTATIVE
HEALTH PRACTICES
A number of studies indicate that lesbian and bisexual women may
be more likely to engage in behaviors known to be risk factors for a
number of physical health concerns. For example, in a study that compared self-identied lesbians with a national sample of women, it was
found that the lesbian women were more likely to be smokers than heterosexual women (Aaron et al., 2001; Diamant et al., 2000; Gruskin,
Greenwood, Matevia, Pollack, & Bye, 2007). Smoking is a known risk
factor for a number of physical health concerns including pulmonary
and cardiac diseases and cancer. In addition, lesbian and bisexual
women were also more likely to drink alcohol compared to control
samples. In Diamant and colleagues study, it was found that almost
three-fourths of lesbians and bisexuals used alcohol compared to onehalf of heterosexuals. Furthermore, lesbians and bisexual women were
much more likely to report drinking 3 or more drinks almost daily.
Studies have also found that lesbians are more likely to be overweight or obese compared to controlled samples of heterosexuals
(Cochran et al., 2000), which is a known risk factor for a number of
health conditions. For example in one study, 48 percent of lesbian
women compared to only 32 percent of women in the national sample
were overweight (body mass index [BMI]  27.3 kg/m2). Contradictory

Sexual Minority Women: Sources and Outcomes of Stigmatization

141

to past reports, the lesbian women in this sample appeared to participate in physical activity at about the same rate as the national sample
of women. In fact, lesbian women were slightly more likely than other
women to report vigorous activity. Additional research is needed to
sort out the research on weight and exercise. Despite an increased need
for health screening and preventative services, research indicates that
lesbian and bisexual women may fail to obtain proper care.
As discussed earlier, whether for fear of discrimination from a doctor, a lack of health insurance, or a misunderstanding of the risks, lesbian and bisexual women often are found to have poorer rates of
preventative health screening compared to heterosexual women. Two
large studies have found that lesbian women were less likely to have
had a papanicolaou (pap) test in the past two years compared to heterosexual women (Aaron et al., 2001). Failure to see gynecologists and
have recommended examinations is of particular alarm because many
lesbian women do not have a history of oral contraceptives, pregnancy,
and breastfeeding, all of which are protective factors for ovarian and
other cancers (American Cancer Society, n.d.).
The combination of risky behaviors and a failure to obtain preventative health screenings may account for some of the physical health disparities that are discussed in the next sections.
OUTCOMES
Although the evidence is mixed, a number of studies have found
that lesbian and bisexual women have higher incidence of a number of
physical health outcomes. A few of the studies are reviewed below.
In one study of 4,023 women who participated in the Los Angeles
County Health Survey, it was found that lesbian and bisexual women
had a higher rate of being diagnosed with heart disease. Importantly,
this nding persisted even when controlling for age, race, education,
income, health insurance, tobacco use, and obesity (Diamant & World,
2003). Furthermore controlling for those same variables, bisexual
women also reported more poor physical health days compared to
the heterosexual sample.
In another large-scale study that included heterosexual, lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual-with-homosexual-experience women, several physical health differences emerged (Cochran & Mays, 2007). For example,
bisexual women reported a greater number of health conditions than heterosexual women. These health conditions included digestive complaints,
back problems, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Heterosexual women with
homosexual experiences reported more back problems and asthma than
other heterosexual women. And nally, lesbian women reported having
arthritis more than other heterosexual women. However, most of these
health disparities became nonsignicant once the researcher factored in

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psychological distress. The root of the problem may lie in the experience
of minority stress that contributes to psychological distress. As discussed
earlier, both lesbian women and bisexual women report higher levels of
psychological distress than heterosexual women.
Drawing from psychological research on women who identify as lesbian or bisexual, it is clear that the impact of stigma is far-reaching.
Stigma effects sexual minority women in a number of ways including
in legal domains, in terms of economic resources, family and friend
relationships, and in terms of health and well-being. More research is
needed to understand how the consequences of stigma and minority
stress are experienced around the world. The next section discusses
ways in which lesbian and bisexual women may cope with stigma and
minority stress.
COPING
The experience of minority stress may lead lesbians and women
who engage in same-sex sexual behavior to adapt coping strategies to
deal with the stressors they experience. Considering the weight of the
research we have presented up until this time, the outlook may seem
bleak for members of the LGB community. However, many of the individuals within these communities do not express high levels of the
negative outcomes associated with stigma and minority stress (Herek &
Garnets, 2007). Numerous means of coping with minority stress have
been seen in gay, lesbian and bisexual populations in the United States,
which may serve as a buffer against some of the aforementioned negative outcomes.
Recently, various anti-gay legislative efforts in individual states within
the United States have provided researchers with the opportunity to
examine the coping skills employed by sexual minority persons. At the
forefront of this research is the work performed by Russell (2003) investigating responses to an amendment to the Colorado State Constitution
stripping sexual minority persons of protections as minorities, including
nondiscrimination. This amendment was designed to remove sexual
minorities from protected status and make it illegal for them to le complaints based on discriminatory treatment as minority persons. A study
of LGB people in Colorado revealed that this anti-gay campaign was
very stressful for many participants. The coping skills employed by
these participants fell neatly into 5 categories: movement perspective,
confronting internalized homonegativity, expression of affect, connecting
to community, and successful witnessing (Russell, 2003).
Taking a movement perspective entails stepping back from an antigay experience and seeing it as a small part of a larger picture, progressing toward optimal changes (Russell, 2003). In other words, individuals taking a movement perspective may not focus on a specic

Sexual Minority Women: Sources and Outcomes of Stigmatization

143

incident such as being the victim of a derogatory slur, but may instead
consider it to be a lingering fragment of a gradually dissolving heterosexist society. This way of thinking could be very helpful to persons
experiencing set backs such as the passage of anti-gay legislation. The
movement perspective can be seen in statements such as the following:
I am 100 percent opposed to Amendment 2 (like I really need to say that)
but I think that its doing good for the gay/lesbian/bisexual community
in the long run. People are now being forced to deal with something
theyd rather ignore. Theyre being educated and taught that there is
more to homosexuality that perverted sex. This will eventually be seen
as the catalyst for the successful civil rights movement of the 90s.
(Russell, 2000, p. 198).

As part of the broader theme of seeing an anti-gay action as a small


part of a larger picture, individuals who take the movement perspective may articulate beliefs about these actions as being helpful for the
communitys understanding of homophobia and its implications. Taking a movement perspective may help to alleviate the powerlessness
and isolation caused by anti-gay actions. By focusing more on ones
self-efcacy and actions, LGB individuals may be able to diffuse the
negative consequences associated with anti-gay efforts aimed at them
(Russell, 2003). In addition, the ability to have your voice heard and
understood by others (successful witnessing) can serve as another form
of resilience. The social support offered in these situations can help
individuals to reduce feelings of powerlessness and isolation that could
result from anti-gay actions.
While Russells research found that anti-gay actions (campaigns and
legislation) could lead to an increase in internalized homonegativity for
some individuals, she also found the opposite. For some individuals,
anti-gay actions serve as a forum in which they can investigate and
confront their own internalization of negative beliefs about the LGB
community and its members (Russell, 2003). Some participants in Russells study reported that the anti-gay campaign and amendment
allowed them to examine their own beliefs about their community and
themselves. This experience may have allowed them to dispel some internal shame surrounding their identities. The act of coming out as a
result of these anti-gay efforts may be evidence of such a shedding of
internalized negative beliefs (Russell, 2003).
Another interesting nding from Russells research was that while
certain negative emotions such as anger could be stressful to participants, they could also be evidence of resilience when expressed in a
useful way. It is possible that if lesbians can harness anger, sadness,
and negative affect in a way that promotes action, these emotions can
help them to become more resilient and relieve stress associated with

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anti-gay actions. In addition to this, interaction with the LGB community may also serve as a way to battle the stress of anti-gay actions.
The community can be both a source of information about being LGB
and a forum for activism, both of which may help buffer stress (Herek &
Garnets, 2007; Russell, 2003). Participation in the community may foster a collective identity because it expands an individuals resources to
the level of the entire group (Herek & Garnets, 2007). As a part of this
community, individuals have a new set of norms with which to compare themselves against, norms which are more accepting of their sexuality or sexual identity than those of the mainstream, heterosexual
community (Meyer, 2003). Through the lesbian community, lesbians
can engage in fruitful social comparison outside of mainstream heterosexual norms, which can lead to the amelioration of the stress that feeling shunned or outcast by the mainstream community can create
(Meyer, 2003).
While there may be many obstacles for lesbians and women who
engage in same-sex sexual practices around the world, human beings
are also a very adaptive species and may sometimes be able to combat
these negative inuences with the use of coping strategies. The formation of communities of like-minded women and individual-level coping
strategies may be powerful sources of strength and resilience in the
face of great disparity for women engaging in same-sex sexual practices and identities throughout the world.

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Chapter 10

Special Issues for Women


with Disabilities
Martha E. Banks

OVERVIEW OF AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION


GUIDELINES REGARDING CULTURAL COMPETENCE
Development of culturally relevant rehabilitation psychology can be
aided by application of the American Psychological Associations Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists (American Psychological Association
[APA], 2003). Guideline #1 indicates, Psychologists are encouraged to
recognize that, as cultural beings, they may hold attitudes and beliefs
that can detrimentally inuence their perceptions of and interactions
with individuals who are ethnically and racially different from themselves (p. 382). This involves Psychologists are encouraged to learn
how cultures differ in basic premises that shape worldview (p. 382).
Psychologists are encouraged to be aware of their attitudes and work to
increase their contact with members of other racial/ethnic groups, building trust in others and increasing their tolerance for others.
The second guideline Psychologists are encouraged to recognize the
importance of multicultural sensitivity or responsiveness, knowledge,
and understanding about ethnically and racially different individuals
(p. 385). As a way to implement this guideline, [p]sychologists are also
encouraged to understand the stigmatizing aspects of being a member of
a culturally devalued other group (p. 385). This involves more than
awareness of overt experiences of prejudice and discrimination. Individual rehabilitation psychologists developing cultural competence have
increased awareness of the negative value of their own group in the

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cultural hierarchy, an understanding of stereotype threat as it impacts on


a persons functioning in assessment or during treatment, and recognition
of the uncertainty of the attribution of the stigmatizing comments and
outcomes. Understanding a clients or students or research participants
worldview, including the effect of being in a stigmatized group, helps to
understand his/her perspectives and behaviors (p. 385). For clients with
disabilities, it is important for the rehabilitation psychologist to consider
cultural factors in symptom presentation, meaning of disability, motivation and willingness to seek treatment, social support networks, perseverance in treatment, differences in perspectives and experiences of people
with lifelong and recently acquired visible and invisible disabilities, and
acknowledgment of women of all ethnicities and People of Color with
disabilities as members of multiple stigmatized groups.
Guideline #4 addresses research: Culturally sensitive psychological
researchers are encouraged to recognize the importance of conducting
culture-centered and ethical psychological research among persons from
ethnic, linguistic, and racial minority backgrounds. Major demographic
shifts in the United States . . . are underway (p. 388). As a result, it will
be necessary to expand to include the issues facing aging baby boomers,
new immigrants, younger individuals of Latino heritage, and biracial
people; Women with Disabilities are members of all of those groups.
[W]hen research does not adequately incorporate culture as a central
and specic contextual variable, behavior is misidentied, pathologized,
and, in some cases, psychologists are at risk of perpetuating harm
(p. 388). Thus, psychological researchers are encouraged to be
grounded in the empirical and conceptual literature on the ways that
culture inuences the variables under investigation, as well as psychological and social science research traditions and skills (p. 389). Therefore, cultural considerations should be incorporated into research
generation and design, assessment, analysis, and interpretation.
Multicultural research considerations are similar to the Participatory
Action Model endorsed by APA and the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research: Culture-centered psychological
researchers are encouraged to report on the sample groups cultural,
ethnic, gender, and racial characteristics and to report on the cultural
limitations and generalizability of the research results as well (p. 389).
It is also recommended that researchers design the study to be of benet
to participants and to include participants in the interpretation of results.
They are encouraged to nd ways for the results to be of benet to the
community and to represent the participants perspectives accurately and
authentically. (p. 390)

Guideline #5 concerns the importance of culturally relevant approaches


to treatment: Psychologists strive to apply culturally-appropriate skills in

Special Issues for Women with Disabilities

151

clinical and other applied psychological practices. . . . (p. 390). It is not


necessary to develop an entirely new repertoire of psychological skills to
practice in a culture-centered manner. Rather, it is helpful for psychologists to realize that there will likely be situations where culture-centered
adaptations in interventions and practices will be more effective (p. 390).
Treatment best occurs when accurate assessment has been made. A
clients symptoms must be evaluated within his or her cultural context,
using culturally appropriate assessment tools (Ackerman & Banks,
2002). Rehabilitation psychologists use a broad repertoire of interventions to provide culturally relevant treatment (Ackerman & Banks,
2003; Corbett, 2003; DiCowden, 2003; Mukherjee, Reis, & Heller, 2003;
Nabors & Pettee, 2003).
WOMEN WITH DISABILITIES AS A CULTURAL GROUP
Banks and Kaschak (2003) recognized a broad range of disabilities
experienced by women. They classied them as Mens Illness Overlooked in Women and Womens Illness Misdiagnosed or Dismissed
and Dormant and Part-Time Disabilities. These included traumatic
brain injury; chronic health problems (e.g., diabetes, cardiac disease,
chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV/AIDS) (Beatty, 2003; Feist-Price &
Wright, 2003), pain (Kendall-Tackett, Marshall & Ness, 2003), psychiatric disorders, learning disabilities (Hoffschmidt & Weinstein, 2003); situational disabilities, such as migraines, motion sickness, morning
sickness in pregnancy, social anxiety, and gastric distress during menses; limited vision, deafness, and limited mobility. Womens disabilities
occur within a variety of life circumstances, some of which involve the
social construction of disability and its impact on identity. Women with
Disabilities struggle with lack of accommodation in education and
employment in ways that are often different from men (Vande Kemp,
Chen, Erickson, & Friesen, 2003). In addition, Women with Disabilities
are confronted with a variety of sexuality issues (Crawford & Ostrove,
2003; Dotson, Stinson, & Christian, 2003; Mona, 2003). All Women with
Disabilities deal with intersections of gender, disability, ethnicity, and
social class. Women with Disabilities face multiple stigma and discrimination based on age (youth, old age), ethnicity, weight status (obesity,
underweight), and disbelief when they experience invisible disabilities.
The nondominant status of Women with Disabilities impacts negatively
on education, employment, and reproduction.
Labeling is an issue for Women with Disabilities as it inuences personal identity. For some women, there is pride in being identied with
a group of people with whom they have challenges in common. For
other women, the idea of having a disability suggests an undesired
vulnerability (Feldman & Tegart, 2003). Public images of Women with
Disabilities are quite limited. Most training materials for psychologists

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do not include images of Women with Disabilities. At the other end of


the spectrum, there is a subset of pornography that specically exploits
Women with Disabilities (Elman, 1997; Fiduccia, 1999; see also Farley,
2003).
A SPECIFIC REHABILITATION ISSUE: SAFETY
CONCERNS FOR WOMEN WITH DISABILITIES
Women with Disabilities are at higher risk for physical abuse and
psychological abuse than women without disabilities. The risk is further increased if the women need to rely on others for assistance. While
there has been some consideration given to violence perpetrated by
individuals, including family members and health professionals, there are
also social systemic risk factors.
Some of the high risk factors for Women with Disabilities include nancial and other dependence, inadequate support for personal assistants, and dangers endemic to treatment settings. While many people
consider treatment settings as safe havens for People with Disabilities,
in some instances they represent risk for Women with Disabilities, due
to mistreatment at hands of others, including other clients and treatment professionals (McCarthy, 1998). Such revictimization is, of course,
unethical. Disch (2006) described the long-lasting negative effects that
sexual abuse by professionals can have on women.
There are many types of abuse experienced by Women with Disabilities. While all women are at risk for violence, there are specic types of
violence that are related to disability (Banks, 2007). These include disabilityrelated emotional abuse, disability-related physical abuse, disability-related
sexual abuse, abuse related to disability-related settings, abuse related to
helping relationships, and disability-related nancial abuse.
Disability-related emotional abuse can involve actual or threatened
abandonment (Nosek, Foley, Hughes, & Howland, 2001) and isolation
(Crawford & Ostrove, 2003). Intolerance and rejection (Nosek, Foley et
al., 2001), refusal to acknowledge disability (Corbett, 2003), family prioritization of mens disabilities over womens disabilities (Nabors & Pettee,
2003), unrealistic demands on Women with Disabilities to carry out prescribed family roles (Nabors & Pettee, 2003), and family members refusal to develop skills to communicate with a Woman with a Disability
(Corbett, 2003) are further examples of disability-related emotional
abuse. Transportation limitations (Marshall, Sanderson, Johnson, Du
Bois, & Kvedar, 2006), such as lack of, inconsistent, limited availability
of, or need for advanced appointments for specialized transportation
services, represent a systemic safety issue, as Women with Disabilities
are confronted with limited ability to leave abusive situations.
Disability-related physical abuse can take several forms. In addition
to the beating often associated with violence against women, Women

Special Issues for Women with Disabilities

153

with Disabilities are subjected to withholding of or other prevention


of the use of orthotic or other assistive devices or medication (BeckMassey, 1999; Curry, Hassouneh-Phillips, & Johnston-Silverberg, 2001;
Nosek, Foley et al., 2001; Saxton, Curry, Powers, Maley, Eckels, &
Gross, 2001), adult childrens allowing access of known abusive relatives to Women with Disabilities, and family refusal to allow access to
personal assistants (Bergeron, 2005).
Perhaps the most common type of disability-related sexual abuse is
spousal rape (Nosek, Foley, et al., 2001). People providing assistance
sometimes use the threat of physical violence to coerce sexual activity
(McCarthy, 1998); this can happen in the home as well as in treatment
settings. Blurring the line between appropriate touching as an essential
part of the job of providers and inappropriate touching makes assessment of sexual abuse difcult at times; this can happen during bathing
or dressing (Saxton et al., 2001). Nosek, Foley, and colleagues documented fondling or forcing sexual activity in return for accepting help
as sexual abuse of Women with Disabilities. Mona (2003) noted that, in
personal assistance for sexual expression, there might be confusion
between helping an individual with sexual activity and participating in
sexual activity.
Of particular concern to rehabilitation psychologists is abuse related to
disability-related settings, because the chances of implementing institution-wide change are good. Many inpatient institutions have, for convenience, desegregated units that were gender-segregated in the past. The
desegregation has, in some instances, created a particular risk for Women
with Disabilities when they are not adequately protected from males in
inpatient settings; for example, when abuse is discounted or excused as
symptom of males disabilities (Banks, 2007; McCarthy, 1998). In institutions men routinely pay for, and women routinely accept payment for,
sex . . . Sex is seen as a commodity that can be exchanged and it is a oneway exchange, i.e. the men pay the women, not the other way around
(McCarthy, 1998, p. 547). Sexual abuse by staff members occurs under the
guise of provision of healthcare (Nosek, Foley, et al., 2001).
In the treatment setting, additional forms of abuse occur. In some
facilities, there is an overuse of seclusion, restraint, and rapid tranquilization (Sequeira & Halstead, 2001). Therapy can be rendered harmful
or ineffective by therapists discounting of impact of disability (Farley,
2003; Williams & Upadhyay, 2003). Therapists misattribution of psychological presenting complaints to physical disability can result in clients receiving the wrong or no treatment (Mukherjee, Reis, & Heller,
2003). In many training facilities, Women with Disabilities experience
exposure of their nude body to others (e.g., health care students) without permission (Mona, Cameron, & Crawford, 2005).
There is disability-related abuse related to helping relationships.
With personal assistance, there is a power imbalance between the

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

provider and the recipient. It is important to consider who provides


personal assistance and who monitors it. Most personal assistance is
provided in private, resulting in little protection in the event of violence or other abuse. If a Woman with a Disability needs personal assistance, she is unlikely to be strong enough to defend herself (Banks,
2007). Nearly two-thirds of the People with Disabilities who need personal assistance are women (Kennedy & LaPlante, 1997, as cited by
Mona, 2003). Coble (2001) observed that many People with Disabilities
who need personal assistance are inexperienced in the selection of
effective or trustworthy personal assistants; she provided detailed recommendations to assist in interviewing and evaluation of potential
candidates (see also Saxton et al., 2001).
Some types of abuse related to helping relationships include rough
handling (Mona et al., 2005); not responding or delaying response
(Mona et al., 2005); lack of understanding by police and other helping
professionals of the nature of personal assistance relationships, due to
societal assumptions that Women with Disabilities are incompetent
(Chang et al., 2003; Gilson, DePoy, & Cramer, 2001; Mona et al., 2005;
Nosek, Howland, & Hughes, 2001; Saxton et al., 2001); infantilization
(Nosek, Foley, et al., 2001; Saxton et al., 2001); and inappropriately
attempting to transform a business relationship into a personal friendship (Saxton et al., 2001).
Saxton and colleagues (2001) described disability-related nancial
abuse that can involve [T]heft of jewelry, money, and personal
belongings; forgery; purchase of personal items when shopping with
the participants money; and withdrawal of extra money during ATM
transactions performed for the woman. A unique form of nancial
abuse commonly reported was assistants showing up late or not working their full time, but still receiving full compensation (p. 405). Bergeron (2005) discussed abuse of durable power of attorney. Corbetts
(2003) examination of Women with Color with Disabilities included an
examination of family refusal to consider nancial limitations of
Women with Disabilities (Banks & Ackerman, 2006); families expected
equal nancial contribution for care of other family members and large
contributions to family reunions.

SUMMARY
Rehabilitation Psychologists Treating Abused
Women with Disabilities
Rehabilitation psychologists have a responsibility to determine
whether a Woman with Disabilities is in danger of being abused and
should explore the nature and extent of any discovered or suspected

Special Issues for Women with Disabilities

155

abuse. Abuse is an ongoing problem for Women with Disabilities as


noted by Banks (2007):
Women with Disabilities, on average, endure domestic violence for longer periods than women without disabilities (Coker, Smith, & Fadden,
2005; Curry et al., 2001; Li, Ford & Moore, 2000) and are at high risk for
being abused by multiple perpetrators (Hassouneh-Phillips & Curry,
2002).

Family members, particularly intimate partners, are more apt than


strangers to inict violence that causes disabilities. In some cases it is
not clear which came rst: the abuse or the disability. There is a cycle
of abuse and disability, in which it is possible for abuse to result in disability (Plichta, 2004) and for a disability to be exacerbated by abuse
(Banks, 2007; Campbell & Kendall-Tackett, 2005; Curry et al., 2001;
Zlotnick, Johnson & Kohn, 2006).
Abuse can lead to early death; unchecked intimate partner violence
has been shown to end with the death of the victim (Thompson, Saltzman, & Johnson, 2003). As a result, there is a critical need for rehabilitation psychologists to pay simultaneous attention to multiple issues.
While disability is clearly a focus, it is important to determine disability before and after abuse.
Treatment must address safety. Safety planning is complicated for
Women with Disabilities, in part due to lack of accessible services
(Zweig, Schlichter, & Burt, 2002). As noted earlier, some inpatient settings represent particular danger for Women with Disabilities. Independent living is an option for some women, but vulnerability must be
considered (Hendey & Pascall, 1998). Leaving abusive relationships is
often difcult in situations in which the Woman with Disability is dependent upon an abuser (Olkin, 2003; Saxton et al., 2001). The risk of
intimate partner violence escalates at the point of separation; leaving is
extremely dangerous for abused women (Heise, Ellsberg, & Gottemoeller, 1999; Kyriacou et al., 1999). Women are most likely to be murdered
when attempting to report abuse or to leave abusive relationships
(Wuest & Merritt-Gray, 1999). Campbell and Soeken (1999) observed
women with dangerous batterers may stay with them out of fear
(p. 35). Brice-Baker (1994) described cultural issues which trap immigrant women into staying in violent relationshipsfear of deportation,
cultural belief systems about why abuse occurs, economic limitations,
and language barriers. In addition, Fleury, Sullivan, Bybee, and Davidson (1998) noted that victims prevented from calling police or who had
no telephone available, suffered more physical injuries than victims
who had access to help. It is important that professionals not fall prey
to myths that victims are unlikely to leave abusive relationships, that
victims are passive and self-defeating, and that physical violence is

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

more devastating that psychological violence (Gortner, Berns, Jacobson,


& Gottman, 1997).
Rehabilitation psychologists have developed a broad range of interventions and are well prepared to work as members of interdisciplinary
teams to address the complexities of issues faced by Women with Disabilities. The eld of rehabilitation psychology has moved from the traditional model through the medical model and social model to the
integrative model (Seelman, 2004). Incorporating social situations of
Women with Disabilities into the integrative model is the next logical step
toward building truly culturally competent rehabilitation psychology.

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Chapter 11

Body Dissatisfaction and Disordered


Eating: The Globalization of Western
Appearance Ideals
Jaehee Jung
Gordon B. Forbes

In every known human society, women decorate and modify their


bodies to make them more attractive. Although beauty standards show
enormous variability across time and culture, one constant feature of
human beings has been their willingness to bear great nancial
expense and endure painful and dangerous procedures in the pursuit
of these standards. One of the reasons these efforts have persisted is
the strong relationship between womens feelings about their bodies
and their physical and mental health (Grogan, 2008).
A large research literature indicates that dissatisfaction with the
appearance of ones body is associated with depression, social anxiety,
sexual dysfunctions, psychosomatic illnesses, and a host of other feelings and experiences that devastate womens self-esteem and diminish
their quality of life (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997; Grogan, 2008). The
most extreme manifestations of dissatisfaction with appearance are lifethreatening eating disorders.
This chapter will summarize what is known about cultural differences in body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. Both body dissatisfaction and eating disorders are complex phenomena with multiple and
sometimes conicting denitions and determinants. Body dissatisfaction occurs when a woman has a negative or unfavorable body image.
The term body image refers to how a woman perceives and evaluates

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her body. Body image includes perceptions of the appearance of her


physical body (i.e., short, tall, fat, thin, athletic); self-evaluations and
emotional reactions to her body (i.e., attractive, ugly, sexy, disgusting);
perceptions of how others perceive, evaluate, and respond to her body
(i.e., people think I am good looking, people think I am fat); and perceptions of her bodys functioning (e.g., athletic, healthy, weak). Eating
disorders are conditions in which peoples diet and eating behaviors
impair their quality of life and/or pose signicant risks to their physical or mental health. We will focus on conditions associated with medically unnecessary and potentially harmful practices intended to alter
the body through restricted caloric intake. The most severe form of eating disorder is anorexia nervosa. The salient feature of anorexia nervosa is a potentially life-threatening, self-induced starvation. Along with
the starvation comes important physiological changes (including neurohormonal changes leading to the cessation of menstruation), the terror
of becoming fat, and the false perception that the sufferers underweight body is fat.
Another form of eating disorder is bulimia, also called bulimia nervosa. This refers to self-induced vomiting for purposes of weight control. The vomiting typically occurs following a period of actual or
perceived excessive food consumption (binging). Bulimia usually
occurs in people of average to above average weight. It may also occur
in individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa and/or be accompanied
by the abuse of laxatives or stimulant drugs.1
Estimates of the prevalence of eating disorders among Englishspeaking Western societies show substantial variation depending on
how disordered eating is dened and measured and on how the data
are collected. The best available recent information indicates that during their lifetime about 1 percent of American women will develop anorexia nervosa, and an additional 1.5 percent will develop bulimia
(Hudson, Hiripi, Pope, & Kessler, 2007). Less information is available
on the Western countries of continental Europe, but research in the last
decade suggests that body dissatisfaction and eating disorders in continental European countries are roughly comparable to the levels found
in English-speaking countries (Makino, Tsuboi, & Dennerstein, 2004;
Miller & Pumariega, 2001; Swami et al., 2009; Wardle, Haase, & Steptoe, 2006). Although there are certainly differences within and between
these countries, we will usually follow the common practice of discussing them as the single class of Western.
BODY DISSATISFACTION IS FAR MORE THAN
EATING DISORDERS
It is important to recognize that studies of women with eating disorders involve only women whose symptoms are so severe and

Body Dissatisfaction and Disordered Eating

163

debilitating that they are diagnosed as suffering from a mental illness.


For every woman with a diagnosed eating disorder, there are literally
dozens of women with some, but not all, of the symptoms associated
with these disorders. For example, as high as one-third of college-aged
women (the demographic group with one of the highest rates of eating
disorders) have at least one of the symptoms associated with eating
disorders (Prah, 2006). However, even this gure fails to reect the
magnitude of body dissatisfaction or how it impacts the daily lives of
ordinary women. This is because women who do not have symptoms
associated with clinical eating disorders may still experience substantial
dissatisfaction with their bodies.
Surveys indicate that approximately 50 to 70 percent of American
women are dissatised with one or more aspects of their bodies, particularly their weight (Cash & Henry, 1995; Frederick, Peplau, & Lever,
2006; Garner, 1997). Importantly, these high levels of weight and body
dissatisfaction are found in women of all ages, show only a modest
decline over their lifespan, and are found in most Western samples
(Cash, 2002; Forbes et al., 2005; Tiggemann, 2004).
The consequences of body and weight dissatisfaction include a pattern of constantly watching ones weight (which may be present as
early as 7 years of age, e.g., Dohnt & Tiggemann, 2006), calorie counting, self-consciousness about eating in public, shame and guilt over
actual or perceived appearance aws, and a womans ever-present anxious concern with appearance and others perceptions of her body. The
cumulative effect of these experiences is lower self-condence, lower
self-esteem, and a reduced quality of life. These consequences are experienced by many, arguably most, Western women of all ages (Bordo,
1993; Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997; Rodin, Silberstein, & Striegel-Moore,
1984). In fact, body dissatisfaction is so common among Western
women that it was labeled as a normative discontent a quarter of a
century ago (Rodin et al., 1984).
Body dissatisfaction among ordinary Western women has increased
sharply over the last 30 to 40 years (Cash & Henry, 1995; Garner,
1997). Similarly, body dissatisfaction and disordered eating have begun
to appear in areas of the world where they were once very rare.
Although understanding the nature and extent of body dissatisfaction
is a crucial step in reducing and treating life-threatening eating disorders, it is also important to recognize that it has the potential to
improve the quality of life for many millions of ordinary women
around the world (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997). The rest of this chapter will address this goal. The rst section will examine the history of
body dissatisfaction and the contribution of feminist theory to the
understanding of cultural differences in body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. The second will review the research on cultural similarities and differences in eating disorders and body dissatisfaction. This

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section will also identify major gaps in our knowledge and suggest
how feminist theory may guide future research.
HISTORY OF EATING DISORDERS AND BODY IMAGE
Life-threatening food refusal among Western women has been
described for several hundred years. Before the nineteenth century,
published descriptions of food refusal usually occurred in a religious
context (e.g., Bynum, 1987). Although it was described as a psychiatric
syndrome in the 1870s, it was considered extremely rare for much of
the following century. In his clinical training in the 1960s the second
author can recall a supervisor commenting that he had seen only two
cases of anorexia nervosa in over 30 years of clinical practice. Similar
experiences have been reported by many mental health practitioners
trained before the mid-1970s (e.g., Gordon, 2000).
Public and professional interest in anorexia nervosa increased
greatly in the late 1970s and 1980s. In 1983, the tragic death of the
gifted popular singer Karen Carpenter focused both media and professional attention on anorexia nervosa and the previously almost
unknown disorder of bulimia. In the early 1990s, Princess Dianas public acknowledgment of her long struggle with bulimia focused public
attention on a disorder that by then approached epidemic proportions
among young women in the United States and United Kingdom. By
the 1990s, it was generally recognized that dissatisfaction with the
appearance of ones body was an essential precursor to eating disorders (Polivy & Herman, 2002). (For a history of anorexia nervosa and
other eating disorders, see Brumberg, 1988.)
EATING DISORDERS AND BODY DISSATISFACTION
AS CULTURE-LIMITED PHENOMENA
For many years, body dissatisfaction, particularly weight dissatisfaction, excessive dieting, and life-threatening eating disorders, were thought
to be culture- and social class-limited phenomena that occurred primarily
or exclusively among afuent white women in English-speaking Western
countries (Nasser, 1997; Prince, 1983). Two seemingly compelling sources
supported this view.
First, over a century of reports by mental health practitioners, and
more recent reports by researchers, indicated that eating disorders are
much more common among upper class white women than women
from lower classes or ethnic minorities (Brumberg, 1988).2
Second, a large anthropological literature demonstrated that the majority of human societies associated slender womens bodies with illness,
poverty, and diminished fecundity (Brown & Konner, 1987; Cassidy,
1991). Conversely, almost 80 percent of societies associate moderate to

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high levels of body fat in women with health, physical attractiveness,


social status, and fertility (Brown, 1991). The fattening huts of some
African cultures, where girls are force-fed large quantities of food to
make them gain weight and become more appealing brides, are well
known (Brown & Konner, 1987; Swami & Furnham, 2008).3
By the early 1980s, mental health practitioners and researchers from
non-Western countries were beginning to report cases of anorexia nervosa in societies where it was previously unknown or extremely rare.
By the late 1990s, it was clear that even if the culture-limited perception of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating was once true, this
was no longer the case. To the contrary, these disorders were now
found in many developed and developing societies, and their prevalence in non-Western societies was increasing (Gordon, 2000; Nasser,
1997; Nasser, Katzman, & Gordon, 2001).
THE GROWTH AND SPREAD OF BODY DISSATISFACTION
The spread of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating is often
attributed to what Lee (2004) characterized as the . . . toxin of Westernization (p. 617). However, Westernization, or perhaps more appropriately
modernization (e.g., Kagitcibasi, 2005), is a complex and multidimensional
phenomenon. It encompasses economic and political structures; fashion
and popular culture; social roles and expectations of others; and a host of
other values, expectations, and worldviews. All, some, or none of these
may be related to body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. In addition, it
is possible that different aspects of modernization are related to body dissatisfaction in different cultures (e.g., Shefeld, Tse, & Sofronoff, 2005). As
a consequence, attributing the spread of body dissatisfaction to the nonspecic inuence of modernization or Westernization does little to further
our understanding of the phenomenon.
MODERNIZATION AND WESTERN MEDIA
Although it is likely that many aspects of modernization inuence
body perceptions, the most extensively studied, and certainly the most
vilied, aspect of modernization is Western media. Most research has
focused on medias ubiquitous portrayals of extremely thin female
bodies, its emphasis on diet and weight control, and the always
implicit, and frequently explicit, message that with sufcient effort all
women can and should look this way (Holmstrom, 2004; Thompson,
Heinberg, Altabe, & Tantleff-Dunn, 1999). For convenience, this is often
labeled the thin body ideal. Critics of Western media, particularly
Western television, can draw on a large body of feminist criticism and
empirical research showing the pernicious effect of the thin body ideal
on the body image of women in both the developed and the

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developing world (e.g., Bordo, 1993; Jeffreys, 2005; Wolf, 1991). For
recent reviews of televisions role in body dissatisfaction and disordered eating, see Gilbert, Keery, and Thompson (2005); Ward and Harrison (2005); and Cafri, Yamamiya, Brannick, and Thompson (2005).
The work of Becker, Burwell, Herzog, Hamburg, and Gilman (2002)
is a particularly dramatic example of the inuence of Western television in the developing world. In their frequently cited study, Becker
and her associates found that the introduction of Western television to
the traditional culture of Fiji was quickly followed by increased body
dissatisfaction, dieting, and behaviors associated with disordered eating (e.g., self-induced vomiting) among young women.
Although most research and theoretical discussions emphasize the
role of television and, to a lesser extent motion pictures, the print media,
particularly magazines, are also an important inuence. Studies have
shown that exposure to thin models in popular womens magazines contributes to body dissatisfaction; decreases self-esteem and condence;
and produces negative feelings of guilt, anxiety, shame, and depression
(Pinhas, Toner, Ali, Garnkel, & Stuckless, 1999; Tiggemann & McGill,
2004). Similarly, exposure to thin models in magazines has been linked
to eating disorder symptomatology in both adolescent girls and adult
women (e.g., Harrison, 2000; Pinhas et al., 1999; Vaughan & Fouts, 2003).
In the last 10 years pro-anorexia Web sites and social networking sites
have appeared that encourage young women to pursue extremely thin
bodies through severe dieting, vomiting, and other extreme weight-loss
techniques (Morris, Boydell, Pinhas, & Katzman, 2006). Although scholarly research on the inuence of these sites is still very limited, a recent
study found that exposure to these sites increased body dissatisfaction
among college women (Bardone-Cone & Cass, 2007).
THEORETICAL MODELS OF BODY DISSATISFACTION
The two most common theoretical approaches to the understanding
of body dissatisfaction are sociocultural theory and feminist theory.
The inuence of Western media plays a crucial role in both theoretical
models.
Sociocultural Theory
This theory seeks to understand body dissatisfaction as a consequence of social and cultural variables (Thompson et al., 1999). Most
of the research based on sociocultural theory has focused on the role
of the thin body ideal and the unrelenting pressure from media,
peers, and parents to attain it. Although it is clear that Western media
is a major vector in transmitting the thin body ideal to non-Western
culture, it is also clear that many other factors are involved (e.g.,
Anderson-Fye, 2003, 2004; Anderson-Fye & Becker, 2004). Feminist

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167

theory suggests that rapid social change may be one of the important
additional factors.
Feminist Theory
This theory, which may be viewed as an expanded form of sociocultural theory, also recognizes the important role of the unrealistic body
ideals portrayed in the media. However, feminist theory goes an
important step further: it emphasizes and describes the social and
political purposes served by these body ideals. According to theorists
such as Bordo (1993), Dworkin (1974), and Faludi (1991), the purpose
of unrealistic appearance standards is to perpetuate gender inequality.
This goal is pursued through two mechanisms. First, attention is
diverted from womens competencies and accomplishments; instead it
is focused on supercial aspects of their appearance. Second, womens
emotional and nancial resources are diminished and their selfcondence is undermined by expensive, exhausting, and usually futile
attempts to conform to unrealistic appearance standards. For a review
of these theories, see Jeffreys (2005). Wolf (1991), in describing beauty
standards as a backlash against American womens strivings for gender
equality, captured a central feminist argument when she stated, The
more legal and material hindrances women have broken through, the
more strictly and heavily and cruelly images of female beauty have
come to weigh upon us (p. 10).
Both sociocultural theory and feminist theory would predict that the
more a society is exposed to Western media and Western appearance
standards, the greater the level of body dissatisfaction and disordered
eating within that society. However, feminist theory goes a step further
and suggests that increases in body dissatisfaction and disordered eating
should be largest in societies in which women have made the greatest
and most rapid strides toward social, economic, and political equality.
SOCIAL CHANGE AND BODY IMAGE
Consistent with feminist theory, rapid social change, particularly
rapidly changing roles of women, has been identied as an important
factor in increasingly unrealistic appearance standards and increased
body dissatisfaction in Western societies (Nasser et al., 2001). This relationship has been reported by clinicians treating young women with
eating disorders (e.g., Bruch, 1980) and has been widely recognized by
theorists (e.g., Travis, Meginnis, & Bardari, 2000). Consistent with these
observations, Silverstein and Perlick (1995) reported that the two
decades in the twentieth century with the greatest change in Western
womens roles, the 1920s and 1970s, were also the decades in which
Western fashion models were the most slender and least curvaceous.
Indeed, as the social and gender role changes associated with rst and

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second wave feminism spread through much of Western society, the


bodies of appearance icons such as Miss America and Playboy centerfolds became increasingly more slender and increasingly discrepant
from the body of the average woman that was becoming progressively
heavier (Spitzer, Henderson, & Zivian, 1999; Sypeck, Gray, & Ahrens,
2004). It seems likely that this growing discrepancy between appearance ideals and the bodies of average women is a signicant contributor in the increases in body dissatisfaction and disordered eating
(Spitzer et al., 1999). Just as social change has also been identied as an
important factor in body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in Western societies, it has also been identied as an important factor in nonWestern societies (e.g., Catina & Joja, 2001; Gordon, 2000; Lee & Lee,
2000; Nasser, 1997, Tsai, 2000).
According to feminist theory, societies with strong patriarchal traditions, rigid gender roles, and very rapid social change, including rapidly
expanding opportunities for women, would be particularly likely to
embrace unrealistic appearance standards and have relatively high levels
of body dissatisfaction. As we will see in the next section, reports from
rapidly developing countries in East Asia, such as China (Jung & Forbes,
2007; Lee & Lee, 2000; Li, Hu, Ma, Wu, & Ma, 2005) and Korea (Kim &
Kim, 2003; Kim & Yoon, 2000; Ryu, Lyle, & McCabe, 2003), as well as
the rapidly developing former socialistic countries of Eastern Europe
(Catina & Joja, 2001; Forbes, Doroszewicz, Card, & Adams-Curtis, 2004),
are consistent with this expectation.

CROSS-CULTURAL RESEARCH ON BODY IMAGE


There has been very little systematic research on cross-cultural differences in body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. Unfortunately,
even under the best of circumstances, cross-cultural comparisons are
very difcult.4 In the case of research on body dissatisfaction and disordered eating, four problems are particularly serious. First, much of
the available literature, particularly from traditional cultures and developing countries, is based on a single sample from a single culture. That
is, these studies do not include specic comparison samples from other
cultures. To place information from these studies into a cross-cultural
context, their results must be compared with the results of studies
employing samples from other cultures. Unfortunately, this practice is
fraught with almost insurmountable difculties. Among other things,
large differences in how the samples are selected and crucial concepts
are measured often makes it impossible to draw conclusions about possible cultural differences.
Second, nearly all available studies have employed convenience
samples. As the term implies, these samples consist of whatever

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169

participants are readily available to the researcher. In the case of clinical reports, these samples almost always consist of patients with identied eating disorders. Because only a small minority of women with
eating disorders seek professional services, particularly in cultures
where these services are limited and highly stigmatized, women in
these samples are usually from the highest socioeconomic stratum and
have very severe symptoms. Results from such samples are not representative of most women in their culture. In the case of research
reports, most studies have been done with college women. Similarly,
these samples are not representative of most women in their society.
Third, studies almost always depend on the use of Western measures
that must be translated into the local language. The use of translated
measures is always problematic (Forbes, in press). Even when translations
are carefully done, it is often difcult to determine whether the concepts
measured in the translation are the same as the concepts measured in
their native culture and language (Brislin, 1986). In addition, when specic diagnostic instruments or criteria are employed researchers make the
assumption, usually implicitly, that the symptoms of a disorder are the
same in all cultures. However, the specic symptoms associated with eating disorders may vary across cultures (Lee, Chiu & Chen, 1989; Lee et
al., 1993). Similarly, because both physical features and appearance standards vary across ethnic and cultural groups, the specic features associated with body dissatisfaction may show cultural or ethnic differences as
well (e.g., Jung & Lee, 2006; Kaw, 1993; Root, 1990).
Fourth, studies have often dened and measured eating disorders and body dissatisfaction in many different ways. Often relationships among these measures are unknown. As a consequence,
differences among cultures must often be determined using different denitions and different measurement techniques. In the case of
eating disorders these problems are lessened by the existence of standard diagnostic criteria and several widely used measures. However,
the problem is much more serious in the area of body dissatisfaction
because there are no standard criteria and very little consistency in measurement. In recent years, there have been some notable efforts to study
reasonably large numbers of countries using the same measures (e.g.,
Etcoff, Orbach, Scott, & DAgostino, 2004, 2006; Ojala et al., 2007; Wardle
et al., 2006). The 26-country, 40-sample study of preferred body type and
body dissatisfaction by Swami et al. (2009) is particularly important.
AN OVERVIEW OF CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
There is a substantial and growing body of research on ethnic differences within English-speaking countries. For reviews of these differences, see Smolak and Striegel-Moore (2001) or Wildes and Emery (2001).
These studies provide helpful information on ethnic differences within

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a society, and it may be tempting to interpret these studies as if they


provided information on the participants culture of origin. However,
studies of immigrant samples, particularly if they represent postimmigration generations, at best provide only incomplete and potentially misleading information about the participants culture of origin.
Studies of ethnic differences within a specic culture are important,
but they are no substitute for cross-cultural studies (Forbes, in press).
The best source of information on cross-cultural differences would
come from carefully designed investigations with three important features. First, they would employ multiple measures of body dissatisfaction
with established cross-cultural validity. Second, they would employ samples that are comparable in age, education, and socioeconomic class.
Third, the samples would be drawn from cultures that systematically
vary along dimensions that are theoretically linked to differences in body
dissatisfaction. For example, such an investigation might include samples
of college women from three or more countries that vary in their level of
exposure to Western media. Because there are formidable obstacles to
conducting such studies, our knowledge of cross-cultural differences is
based on studies that usually fall far short of these standards.
WESTERN CULTURES AS A BENCHMARK
Because the vast majority of the research on body dissatisfaction and
disordered eating has been done with white English-speaking samples,
these samples have become the de facto standard to which samples
from other cultures are compared. Although it can be argued that this
reects Eurocentric ideas, perhaps even racist or colonialistic biases
(e.g., Kim, Yang, & Hwang, 2006; Sinha, 1996), there are several reasons
why it is useful to use the results from Western studies as a convenient
benchmark. First, far more is known about body dissatisfaction and
disordered eating in these samples. Comparison of new information
with the established body of information often enriches our understanding of both. Second, until very recently body dissatisfaction and
disordered eating appeared to be much more common in Englishspeaking countries. As a consequence, these counties form a natural
endpoint on a dimension of severity. Third, the variables with the
strongest theoretical linkages to body dissatisfaction and disordered
eating (e.g., Western media, increases in gender equality) are greatest
in Western societies. This further supports their use as a natural endpoint on theoretically important dimensions.
BODY DISSATISFACTION AND DISORDERED EATING
AROUND THE WORLD
Until recent years, Western researchers have had little interest in body
dissatisfaction or eating disorders in non-Western societies. In addition,

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171

research with these groups has been discouraged by a lack of resources


and language and geographic obstacles and limited by the number of
local mental health practitioners and researchers. Although a growing
number of cross-cultural studies are available, most have included very
limited samples of non-Western cultures, and very few have been done
in traditional cultures. In addition, most studies have included only
highly advantaged samples, most commonly college students. These
samples have been exposed to more Western inuences, particularly
media, notions of gender equality, and other variables known to be associated with body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. It is very important to recognize that in developing and undeveloped countries,
particularly those who were once part of the Spanish or British empires,
there are often extremely large cultural and political differences between
the wealthy, who are often descendents of European colonialists, and
the very poor, who are often descendents of indigenous groups. As
Swami et al. (2009) demonstrated, differences attributable to socioeconomic class and rural or urban dwelling within developing countries are
substantially larger than the differences found between countries. This
means that generalizing from highly advantaged samples, especially in
postcolonial countries, to all segments of a society is both hazardous and
unwarranted. However, studies of advantaged samples are important
because it is likely that the level of body dissatisfaction and disordered
eating found in these samples predicts what will be found in the general
population as a society modernizes.
Of necessity we will usually discuss countries in large geographic or
cultural groups. This means that we will make broad generalizations
that will unavoidably obscure both important differences between cultures and ethnic and regional differences within cultures. Because there
is clear evidence that body dissatisfaction and disordered eating are
increasing around the world (e.g., Nasser et al., 2001), we will emphasize the contributions of studies published after 1995.
EAST ASIAN COUNTRIES
The rst clinical and research reports to question the common belief
that eating disorders were limited to afuent Western women came
from East Asian countries. These countries seemed like a most unlikely
source of such reports. This is because traditional East Asian beauty
standards include round faces and mildly plump bodies (Han, 2003),
and these countries have long associated slenderness with poverty,
poor health, and low fecundity (Lee, 1999). In addition, East Asians
tend to have smaller and more slender bodies than Western women.
As a consequence, it would be substantially easier for them to achieve
the very slender Western body ideal in the unlikely event that they
wished to pursue it (Lee, 1999).

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Although there were earlier reports of anorexia nervosa and eating


disorders in Japanese samples (e.g., Lerner, Iwawaki, Chihara, & Sorell,
1980; Suematsu, Ishikawa, Kuboki, & Ito, 1985), the well-known work
by Sing Lee and his associates in Hong Kong (e.g., Lee, 1991, 1993,
1998, 1999; Lee, Ho, & Hsu, 1993) appears to have been the primary
impetus for Western researchers to reconsider the conventional wisdom
that these disorders were extremely rare in East Asia. Lees reports
from Hong Kong were followed by reports from other non-Western
nations indicating that both body dissatisfaction and disordered eating
were found not only in East Asia but also in many developed and
developing societies around the world. In addition, this research indicated that both the frequency and severity of these disorders were
increasing in non-Western societies (for a review, see chapter 3 in
Gordon, 2000).
Although results showing relatively high incidences of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in East Asian samples are no longer rare
or unexpected, recently studies have appeared indicating that some
East Asian groups actually have greater body dissatisfaction than Western comparison samples. Jung and Forbes (2006, 2007) found that
Korean and Chinese college women scored higher than U.S. college
women on ten measures of body dissatisfaction and two measures of
disorder eating. Jung, Forbes, and Lee (in press) found similar results
with ve measures of body dissatisfaction and two measures of disordered eating in samples of early adolescent girls in Korea and the
United States. In their important study of over 10,000 college women
from twenty-two countries, including the United States and 13 other
Western countries, Wardle et al. (2006) found that women from Korea,
although they had the lowest body mass index (BMI)5 of any group,
were the most likely to try to lose weight. Similarly, Swami et al.
(2009) found that women from Korea preferred the most slender
bodies. There is also good evidence of high levels of body dissatisfaction in Japan. For example, Wardle et al. (2006) found that women
from Japan, although they had the third lowest BMI, were the most
likely to perceive themselves as overweight. Similarly, large crosscountry surveys by Etcoff et al. (2004, 2006) found that Japanese
samples had higher levels of body dissatisfaction than eighteen other samples from thirteen different countries, including such benchmark Western
countries as the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Italy.
These remarkable results are particularly relevant to feminist theory.
As previously noted, both sociocultural theory and feminist theory
emphasize the role that Western media plays in the spread of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating to non-Western countries. Consequently, as East Asian countries modernize and are increasingly
exposed to Western media, both theories would predict that they
would show an increase in body dissatisfaction and disordered eating.

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173

However, only feminist theory specically links body dissatisfaction to


changing roles for women. According to feminist theory, unrealistic
appearance standards represent a backlash against womens strides toward gender equality.
This is a very important issue because the Confucian values that
have long formed the foundation of many East Asian societies include
rigid, restrictive, and repressive gender roles for women. The central
and organizing element in these roles is womens subordination and
submissiveness to men: girls are to be submissive to their fathers,
wives are to be submissive to their husbands, and widows are to be
submissive to their eldest sons. Womens roles and opportunities in
modern East Asian societies like Japan or Korea, and in rapidly modernizing societies such as China, are radically different from traditional
womens roles. As a consequence, feminist theory would predict a
patriarchal backlash that would emphasize particularly severe and
unrealistic appearance standards. In turn, these standards would result
in high levels of body dissatisfaction. Because the speed and magnitude of changing roles for women in these East Asian societies has
been much greater than in Western societies, feminist theory would
predict that women in these societies would have greater body dissatisfaction than Western women. However, conventional sociocultural
theory, or theories that appeal to the nonspecic effects of Westernization, would not make such a prediction.
LATIN AMERICA
Most discussions of body dissatisfaction in Latin American countries
have focused on Brazil because of Brazils well-known interest, sometimes characterized as an obsession, with beautiful bodies and cosmetic surgery (Finger, 2003). As a reection of this interest and social
values of equality, Brazil is the only nation where government health
care routinely provides cosmetic surgery for the poor (Edmonds, 2007;
Finger, 2003). As the cosmetic surgeon Ivo Pitanguy observed, in
Brazil, The poor have a right to be beautiful (Edmonds, 2007).
Depending on the source, Brazil has either the highest volume of cosmetic surgery in the world or is second only to the United States (e.g.,
Edmonds, 2007; Finger, 2003; Woodsworth, 2001). Consistent with these
reports, in their samples of women from ten countries, Etcott et al.
(2006) found that urban Brazilian women have the highest level of cosmetic surgery and were the most likely to consider cosmetic surgery.
(For an anthropological perspective on Brazilian beauty ideals and
cosmetic surgery see Edmonds, 2007)
Interestingly, Brazilian cosmetic surgery practices suggest that exposure to Western appearance standards has changed Brazilian body
preferences. Traditionally, appearance standards have emphasized

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

relatively large buttocks and relatively small breasts. Consistent with


these standards, until recently breast augmentation was uncommon,
and most breast surgeries were reductions (Karp, 2001). However,
breast augmentations now greatly outnumber reductions, and there has
been a substantial increase in the size of the augmentations (Finger,
2003; Karp, 2001). It has been suggested that the popularity of breast
augmentations has been one of the reasons why the international
demand, particularly from the United States, for Brazilian fashion models has increased (Karp, 2001).
To the extent that cosmetic surgery reects body dissatisfaction,
Brazil would be expected to have a high level of body dissatisfaction.
Consistent with this expectation, Etcoff et al. (2004) found that Brazilian
womens level of dissatisfaction with their physical attractiveness was
second only to a sample from Japan. Similarly, Brazilians have a high
rate of dieting (Ectoff, 2006) and high scores on standard measures of
disordered eating (Nunes, Barros, Olinto, Camey, & Mari, 2003).
Results from other Latin American countries generally indicate
levels of body dissatisfaction that are less than East Asian countries
but approach levels found in Western countries. For example, a crosscultural study of university women in 23 countries found that the
percentage of Columbian and Venezuelan women who perceived
themselves as overweight or who were trying to lose weight was less
than in Japan but approximately equal to Western countries (Wardle
et al., 2006). Similarly, a recent study in ve Latin American countries
found that 50 to 62 percent of urban dwelling eighth- and ninth-grade
girls wanted to be thinner (McArthur, Holbert, & Pe~
na, 2005).6 In addition, Swami et al. (2009) found that the level of body dissatisfaction
among college women in Chile was equal to the level found in U.S.
samples. (For an important discussion of how changing social conditions, particularly changing roles for women, place Argentinean
women at high risk for body dissatisfaction and disordered eating, see
Meehan and Katzman [2001].)
AFRICA
Most research from sub-Saharan Africa has been conducted with
samples from South Africa. This research generally indicates that white
South African adolescents and college students have levels of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating that are roughly comparable to those
found in Western Europe (e.g., Caradas, Lambert, & Charlton, 2001;
Szabo & le Grange, 2001; Wassenaar, le Grange, Winship, & Lachenicht, 2000). However, until the end of apartheid it appeared that body
dissatisfaction and eating disorders were very rare in black or colored
(mixed race) South Africans. As Szabo and le Grange (2001) noted, limited mental health resources in black clinics and hospitals, along with

Body Dissatisfaction and Disordered Eating

175

the racist belief that disorders found among afuent white women
would not occur among Africans, probably resulted in an underidentication of these problems during apartheid. Even allowing for this
bias, it seems clear that both body dissatisfaction and disordered eating
have greatly increased since the end of apartheid (Szabo & le Grange,
2001). In fact, most recent studies have shown no meaningful differences in the incidence of these problems in black, colored, and white adolescents or college students (e.g., Caradas et al., 2001; le Grange, Louw,
Russell, Nel & Silkstone, 2006; Senekal, Steyn, Mashego, & Nel, 2001;
Wassenaar et al., 2000). Importantly, there have been some reports that
black college women actually scored higher than white college women
on measures of eating pathology (e.g., le Grange, Telch & Tibbs, 1998).
Consistent with feminist theory, Szabo and le Grange (2001) suggest
that role conicts, particularly the conict between the greatly
expanded roles and opportunities for women and traditional African
values, play an important role in body dissatisfaction and eating pathologies. To the extent that these observations are accurate, there is a
clear possibility that in the not too distant future black and colored
South African women, like East Asian women, will have greater body
dissatisfaction than their Western cohorts.
With the exception of a few single case studies of severe eating disorders (e.g., Buchan & Gregory, 1984), very little information is available on body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in other subSaharan countries. Recent research in Tanzania (e.g., Eddy, Hennessey, &
Thompson-Brenner, 2007; Hennessey, 2008) and Nigeria (e.g., Izevbigie &
Owie, 2006; Toriola, Dolan, Evans, & Adetimole, 1996) indicate that
levels of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating approach those of
Western Europe. However, studies from Ghana suggest that, although
possibly diminishing, the preference for relatively large womens bodies
is still present in both college students (Cogan, Bhalla, Sefa-Dedeh, &
Rothblum, 1996) and adult women (Frederick, Forbes, & Berezovskaya,
2008).
There has been very little research from North Africa. Popenoes
(2004) important work suggests that among traditional North African
societies, a preference for large womens bodies persists. However, evidence from Egypt, the most highly developed North African country,
indicates that college women have levels of body dissatisfaction and
symptoms of disordered eating that are approximately equal to those
of college women in Western societies (e.g., Ford, Dolan, & Evans,
1990; Nasser, 1994a, 1994b).7
Taken as a whole, research in African countries indicates an increase
in body dissatisfaction and eating disorders as the nations modernize.
In the most developed sub-Saharan country, South Africa, the incidence of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating equals, and on
some measures exceeds, the levels found in English-speaking Western

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countries. Similarly, in Egypt, body dissatisfaction and disordered eating approximate levels found in Western Europe. However, there is
evidence that the traditional African preference for larger womens
bodies persists, particularly in relatively undeveloped rural areas (e.g.,
Frederick, Forbes, & Berezovskaya, 2008; Swami et al., 2009).
INDIAN PENINSULA
Recent studies of young women in India have reported levels of
body dissatisfaction and disordered eating that are similar to, although
perhaps slightly lower than, the levels found in Western countries and
Japan (Gupta, Chaturvedi, Chandarana, & Johnson, 2001; Kayano et al.,
2008; Rubin, Gluck, Knoll, Lorence, & Geliebter, 2008). However, these
were highly advantaged urban samples. Information on body dissatisfaction in less advantaged rural Indian women is not available.
Similarly, recent studies among advantaged young women in
Pakistan reported levels of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating
that were similar to, but modestly lower than, levels found in Western
countries (Mahmud & Crittenden, 2007; Mujtaba & Furnham, 2001).
However, studies of women in very conservative and traditional Kashmir indicated levels of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating that
were substantially lower than those found in samples from the United
Kingdom (Choudry & Mumford, 1992; Mumford, Whitehouse, & Choudry, 1992). Importantly, both Mumford, Whitehouse, and Choudry
(1992) and Mahmud and Crittenden (2007) reported that body dissatisfaction and disordered eating were most common in the participants
who were the most Westernized.
SOUTHEAST ASIA AND POLYNESIA
This large area includes a wide variety of societies and nations.
Some parts, such as Singapore, are highly developed, whereas others,
such as some of the remote areas of New Guinea and Borneo, have
been relatively untouched by development. In keeping with other
research using Chinese samples, ethnic Chinese women in Singapore
had greater body dissatisfaction and a higher incidence of eating disorders than Europeans and Australians (Soh, 2008). In contrast, women
living in remote areas of New Guinea exhibited the traditional preference for relatively large bodies (Wesch, 2006). Consistent with the previously cited work of Becker et al. (2002) and Lee and Lee (2000)
linking economic development and exposure to Western culture to
body dissatisfaction and disordered eating, Weschs data suggested an
increasing preference for smaller bodies and greater body dissatisfaction among New Guinea women living in a town with electricity and
access to Western media.

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177

Studies of college students and adolescents in the Philippines indicate


relatively high levels of behaviors associated with disordered eating. For
example, Madanat, Hawks, and Novella (2006) found that Filipino college students had a much greater incidence of behaviors and attitudes
associated with disordered eating than a U.S. comparison sample. Similarly, Kayano et al. (2008) found more behaviors associated with bulimia
among Filipino women students than among European and Japanese
comparison groups. Similarly, Lorenzo, Lavori, and Lock (2002) found
that abnormal eating attitudes among Filipino high school students were
comparable to those typically reported in Western samples.
Studies in Malaysia also report high levels of body dissatisfaction
and disordered eating. For example, there is evidence of very high levels of body dissatisfaction and high levels of dietary restraint and binge
eating among secondary school girls (Soo, Shariff, Taib, & Abu Samah,
2008). Similarly, high levels of behaviors associated with disordered
eating were reported among ethnic Malay college students (Edman &
Yates, 2004).
Research generally suggests that Western appearance standards, particularly the thin body ideal is minimizing, if not eliminating, traditional preferences for heavier female bodies in much of Southeast Asia.
Interestingly, Sharps, Price-Sharps, and Hanson (2001) found that this
change is detectable even in rural Thailand. Although women in this
region typically engaged in heavy agricultural labor, they preferred a
smaller body than Thai men and a smaller body than a U.S. comparison sample. The results suggest that the Western thin body ideal is
inuencing womens desired body size even when larger bodies are
better adapted to the long hours of harsh physical labor that characterizes their daily lives.
SUMMARY
Research over the last 30 years has made it clear that the once common understanding that eating disorders and body dissatisfaction were
found primarily or exclusively among advantaged white Western
women is not true. Indeed, body dissatisfaction and eating disorders are
found in almost every society that researchers have studied. However,
isolated, traditional, and underdeveloped societies, particularly those in
which food is scarce, may continue to show a preference for larger
bodies. Even among these groups these preferences are diminishing.
One of the most remarkable ndings from cross-cultural studies is
the small size of the differences found in body dissatisfaction. As
Swami et al. (2009) have noted, differences within societies, particularly
those associated with education and urban residence, are usually substantially larger than differences between societies. The relatively small
differences found between societies are, at least in part, a result of the

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convenience samples usually used in most studies. These samples are


typically highly advantaged, urban dwelling, college women. As such,
they are the most likely members of their society to experience the values and roles associated with modernization. These values include both
Western appearance standards and Western values of gender equality:
the two variables most closely linked to body dissatisfaction and disordered eating.
As the thought-provoking and important work of Anderson-Fye
(2003, 2004) indicates, the values and experiences of modernization do
not appear in a vacuum. Instead, they are seen through the lens of the
culture into which they are introduced. With its emphasis on unrealistic appearance standards as a cultural backlash against gender equality,
feminist theory makes a unique contribution to identifying those societies in which appearance standards will be the most unrealistic, the
pressure to attain them the most severe, and the consequential
increases in body dissatisfaction and disordered eating the largest.
Feminist theory would predict that the rapidly modernizing cultures
of East Asia, with the enormous contrast between centuries-old,
Confucian-based, repressive and oppressive gender roles and the radically different roles and opportunities now available to women in these
societies, would lead to sharp increases in body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. Viewed from this perspective, it is not surprising that
recent research shows that college women in Korea, Japan, and China
have greater body dissatisfaction and disordered eating than Western
college women. As modernization and market economies continue to
impact traditional and developing societies, women in other societies
may also develop levels of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating
that exceed the levels found in their Western sisters. Scattered evidence
suggests that this may be happening already in South Africa and the
rapidly developing countries of South America.
NOTES
Although this chapter will be restricted to the experiences of
women, men also experience body dissatisfaction and eating disorders.
The absence of any discussion of these disorders in men reects the
context in which this chapter appears, and it is not intended to suggest
that the experiences of men are unimportant. For a review of weight
and shape concerns in men see McCabe and Ricciardelli (2004). For a
review of eating disorders in boys and men see Muise, Stein, and
Arbess (2003) and Freeman (2005).
1. The formal diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and other
eating disorders can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association, Fourth Edition (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) and the ICD-10 Classication of Mental and Behavioural

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179

Disorders (World Health Organization, 1992). There are many excellent references on the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders. The interested reader
should consult recent edited volumes or handbooks, such as Thompson (2004).
2. The effects of both social class and ethnicity, although still present, may
have diminished in recent years (Gard & Freeman, 1996; Grabe & Hyde, 2006;
McClelland & Crisp, 2001).
3. The most extreme preference for large female bodies appears to be found
among the Azawagh Arabs of Niger. Here, the forced feeding of girls begins at
the age of 5 or 6 and continues until marriage. Even following marriage many
women continue to eat large amounts of food in an effort to become as large
as possible. For an insightful and sensitive description of this society, see Popenoe (2004).
4. A complete discussion of the complex problems associated with crosscultural research is far beyond the scope of this chapter. The interested reader
can nd more information in van de Vijver and Leung (1997) and Ember and
Ember (2001).
5. Body mass index is a widely used measure of body size. It is computed
with the formula: BMI = Weight in Kilograms/Height in Meters2.
6. In a sixth sample from Havana, Cuba, 29 percent wanted to be thinner,
and 31 percent wanted to be heavier. This may be a consequence of food scarcity and Cubas relative isolation from Western beauty ideals.
7. For insightful historical and cultural discussion of women in Egypt,
including parallels between the new veiling phenomenon and anorexia nervosa, see Nasser (2003).

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Chapter 12

Sexual Violence to Girls and Women


in Schools around the World
Susan Strauss

The joy of inquiry and learning in the classroom can sometimes be


vanquished by the power of the educational system and by the teacher,
thereby infringing on the right of a girl or woman to learn, develop,
and be nourished in a safe environment free from fear. Academia is a
microcosm of society complete with gendered dynamics where the inequality between the sexes is ripe for exploitation (Zalk, 1990).
Unfortunately, schools are not a safe haven for children, particularly
girls, and women who are deluged with sexual violence (Education
For All Global Monitoring Team, 2003) to such a degree that it becomes
a normalized aspect of school life (Leach, 2006; Mirsky, 2003; Plan,
2008). Schools that condone and approve of other types of violence,
such as corporal punishment and bullying, will also support sexual violence (Jones, Moore, Villar-Marquez, & Broadbent, 2008; Leach, 2006).
This chapter focuses on sexual violence to girls and women at school;
however, the behavior does not occur in a vacuum; it is inuenced by
nonsexual violence and the culture in which it resides.
Sexual harassment, including sexual assault, by boys and male
teachers perpetrated on girls at or around school is a worldwide abomination studied by numerous nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)
and by the two-year worldwide United Nations (UN) Study on Violence
Against Children (United Nations, 2006). Sexual violence is a violation
of the rights of girls, threatening their right to achieve an education,
and injuring their psychological and physical well-being (Amnesty
International, 2008; Jones & Espey, 2008; Jones et al., 2008; Leach, 2006;

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Mirsky, 2003; Ward, 2005). Leach asserted that sexual violence to girls
in schools has far reaching consequences to society:
It undermines the pursuit of internationally agreed public health goals to
enable adolescents to deal in a positive way with their sexuality and to
reduce unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections
including HIV infection. For girls and young women, it severely limits
their ability to achieve their educational potential. For society, therefore,
it undercuts the transformatory power of education. Female education
has been shown not only to contribute to improved family health but to
be a major driver of social and economic development. (p. 1)

Gathering information for this chapter proved to be an exciting and


sometimes frustrating challenge. Some secondary sources are used due
to language differences in, or difculty attaining, the primary sources.
Some study results were found in online newspapers and posted on
Web sites, which make it impossible to determine the methodology
used in comparison with study outcomes from other research and to
determine the actual level of sexual harassment throughout the world.
Searching for information required attempts to contact international
agencies, NGOs, and international researchers, sometimes, unfortunately, without responses in return. Some references were unavailable;
for example, in the search for one particular book, only one copy was
foundin a library in Germany. One major challenge in studying the
literature of sexual violence in schools around the world is the lack of
a standardized gendered framework and an operationalized denitional construct (Witkowska, 2005).
A study that explored school violence in 37 nations by Akiba,
LeTendre, Baker, and Goesling (2002) rarely recognized sexual violence, other than rape, to integrate within the framework of school violence, thereby degendering the construct. Likewise, Smiths (2003)
research from 17 European countries was not sensitive to the sexual violence construct. This makes dening sexual violence across cultures a
difcult task. The methodology and context shape the ndings (Mirsky,
2003). These data represent different methodologies and timeframes in
different languages and from a variety of culturesmeaning that there
can be a potential of perceived bias on the construct of sexual violence
in schools (Barak, 1997). Cultural differences may account for what
countries dene as sexual harassment (DeSouza & Solberg, 2003), sexual violence, and sexual bullying.
Many countries do not use the term sexual harassment, but rather
use other terms such as sexual bullying (Duncan, 1999), gender-based
violence (Dunne, Humphreys, & Leach, 2003), sexual abuse (Leach &
Sitaram, 2007), and sexual violence (Mirsky, 2003), among others. In
searching the databases for information, all of the above terms were

Sexual Violence to Girls and Women in Schools around the World

189

used. As Barak (1997) noted, it is not the phenomenon of sexual harassment that is different among countries, but rather the way it is
being behaviorally manifested, which is probably due to different behavioral standards related to different cultures (p. 268). With this
thought in mind, this chapter will use the terms mentioned interchangeably to demonstrate the broad scope of the phenomenon. Some
sexually harassing behaviors may be found in some of the literature
addressing school bullying (Stein, 2003, 2005). However, the literature
on bullying was not searched in researching sexual violence in schools
for this chapter because the term, bullying, is a gender-neutral reference to behaviors that are not often studied through a gendereddynamic lens, even though some behaviors that are labeled as bullying,
would fall within sexual harassment (Stein, 1995).
Whatever the term used, the behaviors are generally indistinguishable and include a progression of behaviors from sexist and misogynist
comments, verbal sexual comments, physical fondling, sexual assault,
and rape. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), For
many young women, the most common place where sexual coercion
and harassment are experienced is in school (WHO, 2002). Gendered
violence against girls and women in education is a pandemic that transcends race, culture, geography, religion, and class (Ward, 2005).
With the electronic communication age comes cyber-harassment/
bullying through e-mails, text messaging, Facebook, and mobile
phones. Dalaimo (1997) stated that a closer look reveals that the same
types of inequalities and discrimination that plague the physical world
are also present in the virtual world. Power is inherently unequal, and
electronic communication is no exception (p. 101). Though not all
online perpetrators are classmates, students are sometimes unaware
who the harasser may be and when the harassment continues during
school, it distracts them from their schoolwork and can be psychologically traumatic (Shariff, 2004). Shariff and Gouin (2006) and Barak
(2005) describe this cyber violence in many forms including, rude, offensive, sexist, homophobic, misogynist and vulgar messages or photos,
and pornography sent to groups and individuals via text messaging,
chat rooms or Web-logs.
Sexual harassment occurs in public places of the school (Leach, 2006;
Mirsky, 2003; Stein, 1995; Timmerman, 2003), with faculty and staff
observing the behavior and often colluding with the perpetrators by
not intervening to stop the abuse. The message to the boys and the
girls is that sexual violence is an accepted school norm; this, then, can
be a catalyst for increased sexual violence within the school and the
community. When teachers do intervene, even in instances of sexual
assault, the boys face few consequences by the school.
Sexual violence is a reection of gender inequality and manifests
itself specically to cultural beliefs and tenets that also condone

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gender-based violence (Amnesty International, 2008; Human Rights


Watch [HRW], 2001a; Leach, 2006; United Nations, 2006). Some teen
girls may even be killed by their families to reestablish the familys
honor for being abused (Amnesty International, 2008; United States
Agency for International Development, 2008). Gender violence is relegated by culture. The following statement by Leach (2006) acknowledged the tapestry of sexual violence.
Violence in the schools cannot be divorced from violence in the home,
the community and the workplace. This violence originates in the imbalance in power between males and females, in the gendered hierarchy
and separation of tasks and responsibilities and in socially accepted
views of what constitutes masculine and feminine behavior. The school,
alongside the family, is a prime site for the construction of gender identity and gender relations built on socially sanctioned inequalities. (p. 27)

Most of the research on gendered violence of girls in and around


schools has approached the issue from a heterosexual construct and
ignored girl-to-girl violence and student-to-teacher violence (Leach &
Humphreys, 2007). Both genders can be victims of sexual violence at
school, but the research demonstrates that girls are the more likely targets of sexual assault and heterosexist sexual harassment (Leach, 2006;
Ward, 2005). This chapter focuses on the sexual harassment of female
students by male classmates and teachers; it will not address the sexual
violence toward female faculty, female-to-female aggression, female-tomale harassment, or sexual violence to males.
DEFINITION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN ACADEMIA
For the purpose of standardizing a denition of sexual harassment
for this chapter, two denitions from the United States will be used.
The U.S. Department of Education, Ofce of Civil Rights (OCR) denes
sexual harassment as the following (2000):
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal,
nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature by an employee, by
another student, or by a third party, which is sufciently severe, persistent, or pervasive to limit a students ability to participate in or benet
from an education program or activity, or to create a hostile or abusive
educational environment. (p. 264)

The National Advisory Council on Womens Educational Programs


asserted that,
Academic sexual harassment is the use of authority to emphasize the sexuality or sexual identity of the student in a manner which prevents or

Sexual Violence to Girls and Women in Schools around the World

191

impairs that students full enjoyment of educational benets, climate, or


opportunities. (Paludi & Barickman, 1991, p. 4)

Till (1980) grouped the sexual harassment experiences of college


women into ve categories, with each category advancing in severity
from the previous one. Using Tills categories, and correlating with definitions from case law, Fitzgerald, Gelfand, and Drasgow (1993) recategorized Tills ve groups of behaviors into three: gender harassment,
sexual coercion, and unwanted sexual attention. Gender harassment is
the most commonly experienced harassment (Barak, Fisher, & Houston,
1992; Vaux, 1993) and includes a sweeping range of behaviors that
denote misogyny, including sexist comments, taunts, and pornography,
to name a few. Unwanted sexual verbal and nonverbal offensive
behaviors constitute unwanted sexual behavior. And nally, sexual
coercion is the exchange of grades for sex. These three categories of
sexual harassment will be used to discuss the construct throughout the
chapter.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN SCHOOL LAWS, INTERNATIONAL
TREATIES, AND CONVENTIONS
It is beyond the limits of this chapter to discuss whether various
countries have national laws outlawing sexual harassment, and to
review the laws of those countries which do address sexual violence in
their schools. However, whether a country has specic laws outlawing
sexual harassment in education, there are a number of international
laws, treaties, declarations, and conventions that the majority of countries have ratied that do outlaw the behavior. Treaties carry legal
weight and declarations are a political catalyst for a variety of abuses
against women and children (Education For All Global Monitoring
Report Team, 2003). International human rights law requires countries
to prevent and to intervene against human rights violations including
sexual assault and rape. In addition, monitoring of any government
treaty is required to ensure implementation of the treaty and compliance with its requirements (Mirsky, 2003).
According to law professor Fionnuala Ni Aolain at the University of
Minnesota, in 1995, the United Nations implemented the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
(CEDAW), which all countries have ratied except eight including the
United States, which requires that women and men receive equal treatment, including the right to an education (International Womens Day
Celebration: Transforming the World Through Womens Voices, March
14, 2009 in Minneapolis, MN). Gender-based violence is considered a
form of discrimination and is therefore outlawed by CEDAW. Violence
against women is dened by CEDAW as, any act of gender-based

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violence that result in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women (United Nations, 1993). The
declaration recognizes the vulnerability of girl children and specically
singles out schools as a location of gender violence.
Governments worldwide, except the United States and Somalia
(Education For All Global Monitoring Team, 2003), committed to the
1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). CRC requires countries to protect children from sexual abuse and sexual exploitation and
to provide equal education to both genders (HRW, 2001a).
The right to education is also proclaimed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with both ensuring equal
education to both males and females (HRW, 2001a; Education For All
Global Monitoring Team, 2003). In addition, the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) requires equal rights for men and
women and to establish effective redress for abuse.
In 1996, the WHO created two resolutions recognizing that gender
violence to women and children was a public health priority (WHO,
2002) In 2000, Dakar hosted the United Nations Millennium Summit,
and announced the eight UN Millennium Development Goals. Goal
number two is to achieve universal primary education by 2015, and
goal three requires gender inequality in all levels of education by 2015
(http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/gender.shtml).
Kazue (2004) asserted that legalization is not the sole answer: It is, however, important to bear in mind that legislation and regulation from
above is not the only way to deal with sexual harassment, a phenomenon
that is deeply rooted in culture, gender norms and gender power structures. Without genuine respect for women and womens human rights,
sexual harassment can still happen despite laws and orders. Sometimes,
the effect of legislation and regulations can be supercial and very limited. (p. 13)

Jones et al. (2008) identied twenty-eight international and regional


treaties addressing human rights, womens rights, childrens rights,
sexual violence, and the right to an education. To see expanded lists of
international treaties and covenants concerning this issue, refer to
Galey (1999) and United Nations Secretary-Generals Study on Violence
against Children (2006).

SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN EDUCATION IN NORTH AMERICA


The United States and Canada have pioneered much of the initial
research on sexual harassment in schools. Both quantitative and qualitative studies dealing with sexual harassment in primary, secondary,

Sexual Violence to Girls and Women in Schools around the World

193

and postsecondary educational settings exist; however, researchers


have only begun to scratch the surface of this egregious behavior.
Secondary Schools
Canada
Twenty-three percent of female teenagers in a Canadian school
study experienced a minimum of one sexual assault, including touch,
threats, and indecent exposure, with 4 percent of the girls victimized
often (Bagley, Bolitho, & Bertrand, 1997, p. 363). In comparing a
group of teenage girls who had never experienced sexual harassment/
assault to a group that had experienced the behavior, 15 percent of
those who were victimized often attempted suicide or made suicidal
gestures compared to only 2 percent of the nontargeted girls
(p. 361). Female students were more upset than their male classmates.
Yet, Canadian high school girls have become so desensitized to experiencing and witnessing sexual harassment and assault, they view it as
normal behavior (Alcoba, 2008). Sexual harassment by adult school
employees was reported by 37.5 percent of both genders (Winters,
Clift, & Maloney, 2004).
Another study conducted at a Canadian high school demonstrated
that 33 percent of students stated they had been sexually harassed
within the previous 2 years; 29 percent were sexually touched or
grabbed, and 7 percent of female students were sexually assaulted at
school (Alcoba, 2008). Research of twenty-three Canadian schools
showed that 30 percent of ninth-grade girls and 28 percent of eleventhgrade girls were sexually pinched or grabbed, 46 percent of girls were
the brunt of sexual gestures, jokes, leers, or comments (Rushowy,
2008). The results of a survey of two high schools conducted by a
school safety panel discovered that 19 percent of girls had been sexually assaulted at school within the previous two years.
United States
Sexual harassment to students in the United States has been studied
since the 1980s (Strauss, 1988). The largest study was in 1993 when the
American Association of University Women (AAUW) researched the
construct of sexual harassment throughout the country. The results
showed, among other ndings, that 85 percent of Caucasian girls, 84
percent of African American girls, and 82 percent of Hispanic girls in
grades eight through eleven experienced sexual harassment (AAUW,
1993). The AAUW repeated their study in 2001 with similar ndings;
83 percent of girls were sexually harassed, with 30 percent of those
girls indicating it occurred often. The behaviors girls identied as most

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

upsetting were being labeled a lesbian, sexually offensive grafti,


spreading sexual rumors, having their clothes pulled at or pulled off/
down, and being forced to do something sexual other than kissing.
Their victimization occurred most often in the hallways and classrooms
(AAUW, 1993; Stein, 1995).
An expanded study of the AAUWs 1993 research found that the
most severe harassment was experienced by girls (Lee, Croninger,
Linn, & Chen, 1996). Research by Lee et al. and by Fineran and Bennet
(1999) showed there was a relationship between the victim and the harasser, in that roughly the same number of victims of sexual harassment
admitted to also sexually harassing at least one other student. Fineran
and Bennet found that 87 percent of girls were sexually harassed by
their peers, and 77 percent of girls admitted to sexually harassing their
peers.
Sexual harassment has its roots in primary grades (AAUW, 1993;
Murnen & Smolak, 2000; Strauss, 1994, 2003). The U.S. Department of
Education, Ofce of Civil Rights (OCR) (1993) posited that even though
girls in the primary grades may not understand sexual harassment in
the same way older students understand it, they are not so nave as to
understand that the sexually obnoxious behavior and comments
directed toward them exhibit malice just because they are girls. New
York schools are nding that children as young as six are molesting
other children (New York Targets Very Young for Sex Offenses, 2000).
Those that bully in sixth grade were found to sexually harass in seventh grade, according to Pellegrini (2001). The author discovered that
there was no difference between genders in their sexual harassment
encounters as seventh graders.
Often missing from the discourse on school shootings is the gendered aspect of the phenomenon (Klein, 2006). Girls were the intended
targets in 11 of 13 highly publicized shootings in the United States over
a period of six years, including the incident of a six-year-old boy killing his six-year-old female classmate. Klein argued that sexual harassment played a role in instigating the shooting episodes, yet absent
from the media was any analysis of the sexual antecedents and hegemonic masculinity as a factor in the shootings:
Violence against girls is easy to render invisible because the behavior that
precedes actual incidents is often perceived as normal; even after fatalities have occurred, the gendered components of crimes do not seem to
register . . . normal violence against girlsindeed, social acceptance of
male hostility towards girlstends to aid in concealing even the most
dramatic incidents. (p. 148)

Special needs students, those with behavioral, cognitive, or physical


challenges, are vulnerable to sexual harassment as both a victim and a

Sexual Violence to Girls and Women in Schools around the World

195

perpetrator (Young, Allen, & Ashbaker, 2004). Disabled students experienced more sexual harassment incidents than nondisabled students,
but there were no signicant mental health differences between the
two groups as a result of their victimization (Fineran, 2002). When students are disabled and sexually harass another student, teachers must
intervene. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Ofce of
Civil Rights (1993), the students special education status cannot be
used as a defense for sexual harassment.
The HRW researched sexual harassment of U.S. gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GLBT) students and found they are unmercifully and relentlessly harassed by their peers, teachers, staff, and
administration (George & Thonden, 2001). The students were verbally,
physically, and sexually assaulted; they were spit and urinated on,
thrown against lockers, cut with knives; some feared going to the bathroom alone, others dropped out of school, some ran away from home,
participated in risky sexual behavior, were diagnosed with depression
and committed suicide. School ofcials, who were not actively involved
in the harassment of these students, gave tacit approval by ignoring
incidents that they observed, or of which they were informed.
Many research projects have been conducted by the Gay, Lesbian,
and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and can be found at their
Web site (http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/research/index.
html). One example is a 2007 survey of over 6,000 students which
found that 60 percent did not feel safe at school (33 percent skipped
school as a result), probably because 86 percent of GLBT students were
harassed due to their sexual orientation.
Sexual harassment by teachers is considerably less frequent than sexual harassment by peers (AAUW, 2001; Lee et al., 1996). If students
younger than 18 are sexually harassed by a teacher or school ofcial,
criminal child abuse statutes, criminal sexual assault or rape laws, as
well as other criminal and civil charges, may be instituted against the
perpetrator (Strauss, 2003). One of the highest reports of teacher sexual
abuse was the Texas Civil Right Project, in which 58 percent of female
students acknowledged being victimized by school employees (Texas
Civil Rights Project, 1997). In contrast, the 1993 AAUW study found
that 25 percent of girls experienced sexual harassment by school
employees (AAUW, 1993). Research by Lee et al. (1996) found 16 percent of students had been harassed by a teacher, 2 percent by a school
administrator, and 44 percent by another school employee. Sexual
abuse by school teachers and staff are a challenge to study because students generally do not report the abuse nor do they tell their parents
(AAUW, 1993).
The most common adult school abuser is a male, well liked by students, parents, and teachers, and involved in extra-curricular activities
with students such as athletics, art, and debate (Shakeshaft & Cohen,

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

1995). Examples of the abusive behavior include sexually offensive


verbal comments such as calling female students boobies, complimenting a girl on her nice legs, and commenting on the students sex life.
Physical examples include touching a females breasts and genitals,
fondling, and tickling. Male victims complaints were taken more seriously by school ofcials than were female victims complaints; female
accusers honesty was sometimes questioned, whereas there were
rarely any misgivings about a male students accusations. This discounting or minimizing of female students experiences further victimizes them
because of their gender. Superintendents were mixed on where to devote
their supportto the victim or the teacher; and abusers were often just
transferred to another school district rather than terminated or have their
teaching license revoked (Hendrie, 1998).
Colleges and Universities
Canada
According to Osborne (1992), Canadian universities are bastions of
sexually hostile environments rife with sexual assault on campuses and
sexual harassment by college womens peers and professors. Roughly 5
percent of women residents at McMaster University Residency Training Programs were sexually assaulted by their male supervising medical doctor (Cook et al., 1996). Females were more likely to experience
discrimination based on their sexual orientation, targeted with offensive comments about their body and their attire, and subjected to sexist
teaching materials.
Women, who experienced behaviors that t the objective denition
of sexual harassment, often do not subjectively identify their experiences as sexual harassment (Fitzgerald et al., 1988). With this discrepancy
in mind, Barak et al. (1992) researched the phenomenon with female
students at a Midwestern Canadian university. The womens accounts
of their experiences demonstrated signicant differences with their subjective perception. Only 1.5 percent of the women who were targeted
with gender harassment by a professor identied the behavior as sexual harassment. Of those same women, 97 percent stated they had not
been sexually harassed. When inquiring about sexual coercion or sexual assault, only 40 percent of the women who had objectively experienced these behaviors, subjectively labeled their experiences as such.
The researchers (Barak et al., 1992) correlated these results with
other variables to determine whether they impacted the womens subjective perceptions compared to their objective experiences. Women
who were younger, erotophobic, tended to repress threatening situations, who had not experienced severe forms of sexual harassment, or
who had the need for social approval, were unlikely to perceive the
incidents with their professors as sexual harassment.

Sexual Violence to Girls and Women in Schools around the World

197

United States
Numerous studies of sexual harassment to U.S. college women indicate that 70 percent have experienced the behaviorincluding gender
harassmentfrom a minimum of one college professor (Barickman et
al., 1990; Dziech & Weiner, 1990; Fitzgerald et al., 1988; Sandler, 1997).
Thirty to 40 percent of graduate women experienced sexual harassment
by faculty (Barickman et al., 1990). Between 70 and 90 percent of college
women experience sexual harassment by their male classmates. Kelley
and Parsons (2000) found that 19 percent of female graduate students
and one in ve undergraduate and graduate female students had been
sexually harassed. Undergraduates were more likely to identify their
male peers as the harasser while graduate women named male faculty
as the perpetrator. The students experienced gender harassment and sexual coercion with equal frequency. Most of the women ignored the
behavior or talked about it with a friend or family member; only 8 percent reported it through ofcial channels within the university. More
than 60 percent of presidents at research institutions acknowledged that
sexual harassment was a problem at their university (Boyer, 1990).
Frannklin, Moglen, Zatlin-Boring, and Angress (1981) discussed two
forms of gender harassment in college and university classrooms. The
rst form reported by female students included facultys use of female
stereotypes in addressing women students or in their pedagogy. Examples included name calling such as, fat housewives, dumb blondes, and
dirty, as well as the use of Playboy centerfolds during anatomy class,
and offensive comments about womens anatomy. This behavior created
a bond between the male faculty member and the men in the course at
the expense of the women students. The second type of gender harassment was facultys sexist comments about womens physical appearance, and if women were enrolled in a traditionally male course such as
engineering, implying lower expectations relegated towards the women.
A wide variety of behaviors may constitute sexual harassment,
according to Sandler (1997). These include asking for sex, sexual grafti,
ogling or elevator eyes, staring at body parts, fondling or grabbing,
sexually offensive jokes or comments, threatening rape or other forms of
abuse, calling women sexist or misogynist names, ongoing unwanted
sexual attention or asking for dates, sexually offensive gestures, ridiculing, sending letters or e-mails or gifts, exposing genitals, and sponsoring
degrading activities such as a wet t-shirt contest, among others.
The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics conducted The National College Women Sexual Victimization (NCWSV)
study of 4,500 two- and four-year college and university women in
1996 (Fisher, Cullen, & Turner, 2000). The study measured sexual harassment including sexual coercion (penetration), unwanted sexual contact with force or threats but no penetration, and stalking both on and

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

off campus. Almost 3 percent of the women experienced a raped or an


attempted rape; 13 percent were stalked; 6 percent were shown pornography; 5 percent experienced someone exposing their genitals; a little over 2 percent were seen naked without granting permission; 50
percent experienced sexist comments, whistles, and catcalls; 20 percent
received obscene phone calls; and 10 percent had sexual rumors spread
about her.
The AAUW Educational Foundation conducted a national study to
determine the extent sexual harassment occurs at American colleges and
universities (Hill & Silva, 2005). First-year college students were the most
likely victims, with more than one-third targeted. While almost two-thirds
of students experience sexual harassment, only 10 percent report it to
school ofcials. Although both male and female students are targeted,
their experiences are quite different. Male students sexual orientation is
questioned by homophobic name calling. Women are more likely to experience sexual jokes and comments, leers, and sexual gestures.
Roughly a third of students experience physical sexual harassment,
including being forced to do something sexual and being fondled (Hill &
Silva, 2005). The harassment occurs throughout the campus. GLBT students are more likely to be sexually harassed than their heterosexual
classmates. The most likely perpetrator of sexual harassment to both
female and male students is a male; however, one-third of women
admitted to harassing someone. White students were more likely to be
victimized, and there were similarities in how white, black, and Hispanic
students both discerned and responded to sexual harassment; however,
black and Hispanic students were more willing to report incidents of
sexual harassment to college ofcials.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN EDUCATION IN LATIN
AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
Data on sexual violence in schools in Latin America and the Caribbean is scarce. The few reports that exist often categorize school violence
as a political construct tied to gangs and drug trafcking rather than as
sexual violence (Dunne et al., 2003). Girls who live in Nicaragua, Panama, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic
reported sexual coercion by teachers, including the threat of lowering
their grades if they didnt comply with their sexual demands (United
Nations Secretary-Generals Study on Violence Against Children, 2005).
Secondary Schools
Brazil
DeSouza and Ribeiro (2005) discovered that within the previous
12 months, 24 percent of Brazilian high school students experienced a

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minimum of one sexual harassment incident, with boys the most likely
perpetrator. Eight percent of students (no differentiation between genders) in fth to eighth grade were bystanders to sexual violence in
school (World Bank, n.d.) They also found that if both male and female
students bullied, they were more likely to sexually harass other students as well.
Ecuador, Haiti, and Jamaica
Twenty-two percent of Ecuadorian teen girls were victims of sexual
abuse within and about the school (World Bank, 2000, cited in Blaya &
Debarbieux, 2008). Amnesty International (2008) reported that sexual
abuse of girls in Haiti is common by both teachers and administrative
staff. Girls in Jamaica experience their breasts and buttocks touched
and pressure to engage in sex so often that it is considered the norm
(DevTech Systems, USAID, 2005, cited in, Amnesty International, 2008).
Colleges and Universities
Puerto Rico
Ramoss (1999) quantitative and qualitative research of sexual harassment at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) demonstrated that 65
percent of female students experienced a minimum of one sexual harassment incident, and 35 percent indicated that they had not experienced any incidents. Of those who experienced sexual harassment, 61
percent reported gender harassment, 28 percent identied unwanted
sexual attention, and 2 percent indicated they had experienced sexual
coercion. In addition, 49 percent experienced a combination of both
unwanted sexual attention and gender harassment. Interestingly, of
those women who reported experiencing at least one of the items on
the sexual harassment survey, only 81=2 percent labeled their experience
as sexual harassment; they were more likely to label their experiences
as offensive.
These results are similar to Hernandez (1988, cited in Ramos) who
found that 63 percent of Puerto Rican women experienced sexual harassment. Torres (1989, cited in Ramos) reported that 73 percent of victims were harassed by professors, 15 percent by their classmates, and
12 percent by directors or a librarian.
Not surprisingly, those students who were more tolerant of the
behavior were not as distressed (Ramos, 1999). Other women reported
psychological ramications such as fear, anger, depression, and humiliation. Academically they experienced lowered grades and loss of
excitement and fervor about school. Those women who were harassed
by a professor reported feelings of hopelessness due to the universitys

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perceived lack of caring and their complex procedures, fear of retaliation, and the recognition that a tenured professor was protected from
consequences.
Coping responses included silence, avoiding the harasser, denial of
the behavior, dropping a professors/harassers class, informing the harasser the behavior was unwanted, and seeking out someone to talk to
(Ramos, 1999; Torres, 1989, cited in Ramos). Puerto Rican women view
avoidance as an assertive response to harassment by perceiving it as taking control of the situation (Ramos, 1999). It is rare for a victim of sexual
harassment to report the behavior. The qualitative interviews demonstrated that the women blamed the sexual harassment by men to factors
other than the men themselves; for example, the way women dress, and
on nature and society, thereby negating any male responsibility for their
own behavior. In addition, the male harassers were viewed as perverts,
sick, obsessed, weak, and with psychological problems.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN EDUCATION IN EUROPE
Research on sexual violence in schools is limited in the European
Union. Smith (2003) compiled school violence studies from seventeen
countries, but the construct of gendered violence towards girls and
women was quite limited. Witkowska and Menckel (2005) indicated
that addressing the sexual component of school violence is lacking in
various European Union programs and projects.
Secondary Schools
England
Duncans (1999) study of four urban multi-ethnic secondary schools
in England identied numerous forms of what he labeled as sexual
bullying, including physical assault, sexual name calling, negative commentary regarding physical appearance, verbal attacks, sexual gossip,
and propositioning. Duncans observations demonstrated sexual power
struggles (p. 131), and a sexualized comment during what would otherwise be civilized exchanges, is the marking out of gendered role limits; reminders that relationships are ultimately structured by power
and that power is gendered (p. 128). His ndings supported the
framework of gendered bullying occurring between boys, from boys to
girls, between girls, and from girls to boys.
Girls are called slags, sluts, bitches, whores, and slappers for various
types of behavior such as irting, being unfaithful to their boyfriend,
or demonstrating their sexuality in the clothes they wear (Bell, 2008).
One study found that 80 percent of students thought girls and women
brought on their own victimization by their attire. Boys pull down or

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201

pull up a girls skirt, tell a girl he wants to nger her, and taunt girls
because of the clothes they wear or because of their weight. Boys use
electronic means to sexually bully their female classmates (and staff)
when they send sexual messages or pornography via their cell phones.
As three 14-year-old boys gang raped an 11-year-old girl, they lmed it
from the camera on their phone and sent the video to students at
school.
A British Broadcasting Company (BBC) news program reported that
government statistics showed there were 3,500 xed-period expulsions
and 140 expulsions from school in England due to sexual misconduct,
including sexual assault and rape (Murphy, 2009). Of those, 280 expulsions were from the primary grades, and twenty involved children ve
years old. These statistics are considered an underreporting of the
abuse partially because it is excused as typical behavior.
Female students in Larkins study (1994) identied how sexual harassment was normalized in their schools. First, sexual harassment was
rarely, if at all, discussed at school; second, the regularity and pervasiveness of the behavior; and third, the interpretation of the behavior
by others, especially the male perpetrators, that the behavior was fun
and no big deal.

Netherlands
Twenty-two high schools in the Netherlands were studied by Timmerman (2003) for evidence of sexual harassment to teenagers. Ninety
percent of the perpetrators were male faculty and staff, and 87 percent
were male classmates with girls more likely to be targeted by the harasser than were the boys. One in four girls was sexually harassed, and
20 percent of the harassment was perpetrated by their teachers in the
form of nonverbal sexual advances. Verbal sexual harassment was
experienced most often. Girls were twice as likely to experience more
physical forms of sexual harassment as were their male peers, and
were also more likely to experience combined types of sexual harassment. One percent of the girls experienced a rape or attempted rape
within the school.
Teacher harassment of girls often occurred in public places, with 69
percent of all students asserting it occurred in the teachers classroom,
followed by hallways and the cafeteria (Timmerman, 2003). These
results acknowledge that sexual harassment by teachers was not proscribed. Peer sexual harassment was reported to occur in small groups
in classrooms, hallways, in the immediate area outside the school, and
other public places. Girls were more likely to report psychosomatic
consequences to their health when sexually harassed by teachers than
when harassed by their peers.

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France
Sexual violence to students by teachers has occurred in France
(Bodin, 2005). Though the gender of the victim and the position of the
perpetrator was not revealed, 556 sexual abuse incidents were reported
in France during one academic year, and 12 percent were rapes (Blaya &
Debarbieux, 2008). According to the Collectif feminist contre le viol
(cited in Blaya & Debarbieux, 2008), a little over 3 percent of sexual
attacks occurred within the school. Bodin (2005) found 11=2 percent of
French students experienced sexual abuse.
Finland
Sexual harassment was experienced by 41 percent of 15-year-old
Finish female students, yet only 2 percent reported it to school ofcials
(Honkatukia, 2000, cited in Laheelma, 2002). Gender conicts between
male and female students were perceived by teachers as merely joking,
irting, or playing (Aaltonen, 2002). Sexual harassment was not a term
that was used in their descriptions of the behavior because gender
tends to be invisible; consequently the gender-neutral term, bullying,
was used to dene aggression even from males to females. According
to the author, the victim of bullying was blamed.
Germany and Belgium
Bodin (2005) found that a little more than 6 percent of German students and 1 percent of Belgium students experienced sexual abuse. It is
not known who the perpetrators were or the gender of the students.
Spain
Ninety percent of both girls and boys reported sexual harassment,
with verbal harassment as the most common (Vicario, 2008). There was
no difference in the amount of sexual harassment each experienced,
with 90 percent reporting their victimization. However, the type of harassment varied in their assertions of homophobic barbs and sexual
comments, but further delineations were not provided.
Sweden
The Swedish National Agency for Education researched sexual harassment to grade school children and found over 50 percent experienced sexually offensive name calling; pressure to have sex was found
in 7 percent of the students, and 4 percent were sexually assaulted,
including 1 percent by teachers (Skolverket, Dnr 012001: 2136, cited in

Sexual Violence to Girls and Women in Schools around the World

203

Witkowska, 2005). In a study done of students in grades nine through


eleven, 50 percent reported experiencing sexual harassment (Kullenberg & Ehrenlans, 1996, cited in Witkowska, 2005).
Using the criterion of inappropriate and unacceptable, Witkowska
(2005) studied sexual harassment of 17- and 18-year-old students in a
Swedish high school. Demeaning comments about their sexuality and
gender, sexual comments and conversations, and rating the level of
girls attractiveness, were experienced by 56 percent to 77 percent of
the girls. Between 23 percent and 44 percent of the girls experienced
these behaviors anywhere from daily to monthly. Less than 40 percent
of the girls were subjected to sexual name calling, pressure for sex, and
sexual rumors. Nonverbal sexual harassment was less frequent than
verbal, with ranges of 8 percent to 61 percent. Sexual assault reports
ranged from 0.2 percent to 27 percent and spread of sexual harassment
by teachers was from 2 percent to 14 percent. Forty-nine percent of the
girls perceived sexual harassment as a problem in their school.
In another study of Swedish female students by Witkowska and
Gadin (2005), 13 percent of female students were sexually harassed,
and 66 percent saw sexual harassment as a problem in their school, yet
schools were blase to the behavior. Only 16 percent saw sexualized
conversation, rating a students attractiveness or making sexual comments by teachers as sexual harassment, and they stipulated that those
behaviors were common. Additionally, they dismissed teacher or staff
behavior of pulling students clothing, grabbing inappropriately and
touching private body parts as sexual harassment, which is quite dire.
Republic of Ireland
A large nationwide study on bullying was undertaken of over
20,000 students in over 500 primary, secondary, and vocational schools
in Ireland. Despite the research studying bullying behavior, some students disclosed they had been subjected to behavior that would constitute sexual harassment. Irish lads and lasses experienced sexual abuse
by peers and teachers, were kissed without permission, had their
clothes ripped off, and sexual rumors spread about them, and 30 indicated they were sexually harassed.
Colleges and Universities
Italy
Almost 50 percent of Italian women students reported being sexually harassed in research conducted by Lombardo, Pedrabissi, and Santinello (1996). Their experiences included sexual comments about their
bodies (29.3 percent), and quid pro quo harassment by offering a

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reward for a sexual relationship (3.4 percent). Twenty-six percent of


the women reported that they were sexually assaulted.
Sweden
Bernelo and Peterson (2001, cited in Witkowska, 2005) found that
50 percent of university students experienced gender harassment,
and 30 percent indicated they were targets of sexual harassment.
Roughly 12 percent of female students at four Swedish universities
experienced sexual harassment at their university (www.allakvinnorshus.org/tjejjouren/statistik.htm, cited in Witkowska, 2005). Students
interviewed by Hagg (2002) asserted that sexual harassment at the University of Umea was rare, though they had heard it does occur. The
students indicated that if a student was victimized, the individual
would not speak out for fear of being labeled a troublemaker. Hagg
posited that perhaps because the ideology in Sweden is one of equal
opportunity, that sexual harassment may not be as prevalent as in
other countries; however, equal opportunity is not realized in Sweden
because women and girls freedom is too threatening to male power,
according to Hagg.
Netherlands
Twenty percent of female medical students at Nijmegen Medical
School in the Netherlands experienced sexual harassment (Neveille et
al., 2008).
Spain
Puigvert (2008) reported that a woman who is sexually harassed,
raped, or abused in a Spanish university will be subjected to major
roadblocks if she attempts to report her experience. Spanish universities do not have any policies to deal with sexual harassment on campus, and women who attempted to glean support from campus
ofcials were met with silence. Puigvert indicated that several research
programs about sexual harassment on Spanish universitys campuses
are underway.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN SCHOOLS IN ASIA PACIFIC
Asia Pacic encompasses a wide range of countries with broad economic and cultural practices. Asia, particularly, uses an authoritarian
model of teaching, and, according to Jones et al. (2008), social relations that are both highly gendered and determined by differences of
caste, ethnicity, and religion (p. ix). There is antisexual violence

Sexual Violence to Girls and Women in Schools around the World

205

legislation throughout Asia, except for Pakistan, however sexual violence within the school milieu is rarely addressed.
Secondary Schools
Japan and China
Data from the Japanese government demonstrated that 115 public
school teachers were disciplined for fondling or harassing students as
well as molesting colleagues and graduates (The Bangkok Post, December 28, 2000, cited in Haspels, Kasim, Thomas, & McCann, 2001). The
Chinese Ministry of Education requires that minor students are taught
about sexual harassment (Xinhua News Agency, 2007). China passed
the Law on the Protection of Minors in 1991 legislating sexual harassment to minors as a crime. Sexual harassment of Tibetan girls by Chinese teachers is rampant, however, with the teachers pulling the girls
into rooms to touch them (Tibet Justice Center, 1998).
Pakistan
Parents of rural Pakistani elementary school children do not want
their daughters walking long distances to get to school because they do
not want them leered at by men (Warwick & Reimers, 1995). The
authors asserted that parents removed their daughters from school,
when they feel that conditions there do not respect female students or
protect their honor (p. 28). Parents of daughters would prefer that
their daughters are not in contact with boys during the school day,
therefore, single-sexed schools are the preferred option by parents of
female students.
Secondary school female students are the more likely targets of sexual harassment to and from school and in school by older boys, school
staff, and men who are passing by (Brohi & Ajaib, 2006). The sexual violence consists of singing sexually explicit songs, writing love letters,
making sexually vulgar comments about anatomy, and touching or
pressing up against female students. The behavior is pervasive and the
boys nd it fun. According to Brohi and Ajaib, The onus of responsibility is on the woman or girl. At times, her mere existence is considered a provocation and any sexual act, with or without her consent,
carries a suffocating stigma (p. 81). Pakistan has no laws against sexual harassment.
Girls do not report their sexual harassment because to do so means
they have to choose between going to school and staying home because
their parents would not approve of their daughters victimization
(Brohi & Ajaib, 2006). In addition, Pakistan places great honor on girls
sexual purity, and there is a presumption of guilt that the girl herself
did not preserve her own sexual dignity if she is sexually harassed.

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Where female sexual victimization equals familial and communal


dishonor, it also affects families and communities . . . As one father
declared when referring to the benets of schooling: What is more important in society? My honour or her knowing where Yunaan (Greece)
is? (p. 87).
South Asian Countries
As in Pakistan, the distance that girls have to walk to get to school
in both Malaysia and the Philippines is an impediment to girls enrollment (King & Hill, 1993). Schools in those countries have also been
reported as hostile to girls. If there are no bathrooms in a Bangladesh
school, parents will not send their daughters because they are more
vulnerable to attack. In several South Asian countries, parents do not
want to send their daughters to coeducational schools, even in the primary grades. Once the girls enter puberty, the concern is even higher,
resulting in low female enrollment if the schools do not have boundary
walls and bathrooms for girls (Khan, 1993).
Afghanistan
When school girls classes are held outside, which is usually the case
and often under a tree, they are fodder for the verbal sexual harassment
by older boys and men who walk or drive by (Fahmia Vorgetts, Afghan
Womens Fund and Women for Afghan Women, personal communication, March 14, 2009). After school, the girls gather in groups to walk
home because they are confronted with as many as 100 boys at the gates
of the school yelling obscenities, sexually offensive comments about their
breasts or vaginas, and attempting to grope or fondle the girls. Rape is
common. In addition, girls are threatened and assaulted by having acid
thrown in their faces on their way to school. Sexually offensive comments about a womans breasts and her vagina are made by schoolboys
as young as seven or eight to middle-aged adult women.
India
Secondary school girls in Karnataka in South India are sexually harassed at school by their male peers and on their way to and from
school by men and older boys (Leach & Sitaram, 2007). Ragging is the
word used to imply, that boys derive a sadistic pleasure in teasing or
tormenting girls (p. 262). Behaviors found most offensive by the girls
included, look at us with bad eyes . . . tease girls, write love letters
and notes . . . buy bangles . . . write the names of the girls whom they
fancy on their hands or on the school walls . . . compare a girl with a
lm star, sing lm songs . . . suggesting a romantic liaison . . .

Sexual Violence to Girls and Women in Schools around the World

207

spreading of rumours . . . deliberately bump into them (pp. 265266).


The girls were most concerned with the ragging and harassment that
occurred outside the school from older boys. Due to lack of space,
classes were often held outside, sometimes under a tree, which made
the girls afraid and vulnerable to the leers from the men and older
boys who walked by and who harassed them to and from school.
Girls gossip about their female classmates liaisons with boys was
another concern carrying grim repercussions if her parents found out
and removed her from school (Leach & Sitaram, 2007). The girls spoke
of gender stereotypes by teachers, which were exemplied in the comments teachers made to the girls and to the boys. For example, a girl
may hear, Why do you behave like this, do you think you are a boy?
or conversely a boy is asked, Why do you talk so much like a girl?
(p. 269). Discussions with teachers and other school ofcials indicated that
rape of girl students by teachers had occurred but were relatively rare.
Nepal
According to the United Nations Secretary-Generals Study on Violence Against Children, 9 percent of children were abused by having
their sensitive parts kissed, oral sex, and penetration, with 18 percent
of the abusers being teachers (2005). In Nepal, teachers touch school
girls buttocks, breasts, and will unhook the girls brassieres (Save the
Children Fund, n.d., cited in Dunne, Humphreys, & Leach, 2006).
Russia
Girls in Russian primary grades were bullied two to three times more
by boys than were boys bullied by boys (Dyachenko, 2002, cited in
Zdravomyslova & Gorshkova, 2006). Though very little examination of
gender violence has occurred in Russian schools, the small amount that
has been examined indicates extensive integration of the behavior into
the milieu of Russian schools. Adolescent boys humiliate their female
peers to demonstrate masculine hegemony (Zdravomyslova & Gorshkova, 2006). Sexual jokes and innuendo, discussion about sexual topics,
and sexual pressure are directed to female students by male faculty.
Australia
An Australian anti-bullying website includes resources and references about gender and sexual harassment (www.bullyingnoway.
com.au). The site identies examples of sexually offensive names, such
as slut, whore, and bitch, when talking about girls; that the behavior
most often is perpetrated by males who are abusing their power, and
provides an avenue for redress for students.

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

A majority of students from four schools in Australia indicated they


would not report sexual harassment even though their schools had
anti-bullying policies (Nolan, 2004; personal correspondence from Ken
Rigby, 2004, cited in Stein, 2005). Approximately 37 percent of the students indicated that sexual harassment was a weekly occurrence.

Colleges and Universities


Malaysia and Korea
A Malaysia university study demonstrated that 80 percent of women
were harassed (Badriya, 1988 in Zaitun, 2001, cited in Haspels et al.,
2001). In Korea, a group of womens lawyers and academics formed an
ad hoc committee in response to a woman assistant who was red for
refusing her professors repeated sexual demands. The committee was
successful in taking the assistants case to court resulting in legal reform.
China
When an incident of a male university student e-mailing pornography to women students was made public in Hong Kong, it compelled
universities, corporations, and the government to designate a position
of Equal Opportunity Ofcer to deal with harassment and discrimination issues within their organizations (Haspels et al., 2001).
One of the rst comprehensive sexual harassment studies completed
in a Hong Kong university demonstrated that twice as many Chinese
graduate and undergraduate college women experience sexual harassment than do their male counterparts, with peer harassment being
twice as likely to happen as harassment by faculty (Tang et al., 1996).
Approximately one of every four female students was victimized by
the behavior with 1 percent experiencing coercive sexual harassment
by either a peer or a teacher. Twelve percent of the women students
experienced misogynist comments by their teachers as well as teachers
infringing on their body space and touching their arms, shoulders and
hands. Teachers were also reported to make comments about the womens bodies, pressure them for dates, and direct sexually suggestive
gestures towards 5 percent of women students. One student reported
sexual assault and two other women indicated their teachers bribed
them into sex. Peer harassment was more prevalent with 20 percent to
26 percent of women experiencing gender harassment and physical
seductive behaviors (p. 205); several women were bribed or coerced
into sexual activity and 10 percent of women were pressured for dates
and were the targets of sexual stares and gestures.
These behaviors were viewed as the norm by some women, and
even fewer women believed that the victims were partly to blame for

Sexual Violence to Girls and Women in Schools around the World

209

the harassment (Tang et al., 1996). Chinese students were less aware of
sexual harassment on their campus than were U.S. students awareness
of the behavior on their campuses. The authors posited that this may
be due to less sexual harassment occurring on Chinese campuses than
the United States, a difference in the sizes of the universities studied, a
Chinese patriarchal culture so that Chinese students dont view some
of the sexist comments as harassing, embarrassment within the Chinese
culture to discuss such issues, and the emphasis on harmony and mutual respect within their society.
A second study by Tang (2001, cited in Equal Opportunities Commission of Hong Kong, 20062007) showed that students from eight
institutions of higher learning believed that sexual harassment on their
campus was due to women wearing sexy attire and therefore, appearing sexy. More men than women perceived sexual harassment as irtation and admiration of women. Students also believed that sexual
harassment was really about the victim overreacting.
India
Lewd songs, harassing phone calls, sexual verbal comments, and
womens breasts as the object of mens glares, were experienced by 39
percent of female college students in Mumbai, India (Bajpai, 1999). The
womens bathrooms were surrounded by men making the location a
threatening place for women to use, as were the canteen and the entrance to the university. Male faculty subjected the women students to
sexual innuendo, touching, staring, and offering grades for sex. Fortyve percent of women students at the University of Peradeniya in Sri
Lanka discussed their sexual humiliation, called ragging (Finney, 2000).
Roughly half the women who took part in a Delhi University study
indicated that they were harassed by either a teacher or a non-teaching
employee. In addition, 92 percent of women at the universitys hostel,
experienced daily sexual harassment within the campus as well as on
busses and streets (The Lawyers Collective, 2001, cited in Haspels et
al., 2001). Almost 14 percent of female students were harassed by their
male peers in libraries and the canteen, and 5 percent were harassed
by university staff (Gender Study Group, 1996, cited in Mirsky, 2003).
Verbal harassment in Indian higher educational institutions is known
as eve-teasing, and is considered a less offensive form of harassment by
women students at Delhi University (Anagol-McGinn, 1994, cited in
Mirsky, 2003). Their male peers viewed eve-teasing as light in nature,
attering, and fun (Anagol-McGinn, 1994, cited in Mirsky, 2003, p. 18).
Forty-ve percent of the female students acknowledged that they shun
the library and specic classes to avoid sexual harassment.
Numerous universities in India have undertaken the task of reducing sexual harassment and assault on their university campuses, and

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

creating and implementing sexual harassment polices (Bajpai, 1999).


Her study showed that 39 percent of women acknowledged the existence of sexual harassment on campus, and 58 percent of women said
there was no harassment or discrimination. Sexual harassment was
dened as nasty and obscene behavior including comments about a
womans anatomy, lewd songs, whistling, staring at a womans breasts,
and phone calls. Classrooms, hallways, the library and canteen were
common locations where harassment occurred, especially during special events and holidays. The women said that if a female student
walked by a group of men, it was a 100 percent certainty that sexual
comments would be spewed at her. Male faculty enjoyed their own
kind of sexual harassment including ridiculing females, staring, coercion for grades, inviting the woman to his home, and sexual innuendo
(Bajpai, 1999). Most of the time there was no action taken on any sexual harassment on campus.
Thailand
There were differences in perception about workplace sexual harassment between business school students in Thailand and the United
States, according to a study by Limpaphayom, Williams, and Fadil
(2006). Thai students perceived sexual jokes and sexually explicit language as very offensive and a form of sexual coercion. U.S. students
acknowledged that exchanging sexual activity for a work advantage
and sexual remarks create an offensive work environment.
Australia
Although 53 percent of female undergraduate students in Australia
experienced sexual harassment from their professors, and 88 percent
from their male classmates, only 32 percent of students perceived they
were sexually harassed (Gardner & Felicity, 1996). Female students
were more likely to identify sexist comments from their professors as
sexual harassment than the same behavior from their male peers. Gender harassment was most common from the students professors,
whereas unwelcome attempts for a sexual relationship and sexist and
sexually offensive remarks came from their male classmates.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN EDUCATION IN AFRICA
Sexual violence in and around African schools has reached epidemic
proportions. Female students are subjected to sexual harassment and
sexual abuse by their teachers and their male classmates in bathrooms,
classrooms, and the perimeter of the school (Amnesty International,
2008; Leach, 2006; Education For All Global Monitoring Report Team,

Sexual Violence to Girls and Women in Schools around the World

211

2003: World Bank, n.d.) The results of six studies demonstrated that
between 16 percent and 47 percent of girls in primary and secondary
schools report experiencing sexual violence (World Bank, n.d.). Conict, poverty and war were contributing factors to the sexual exploitation of girls walking to and from school and while at school
(ActionAid International, n.d.).

Primary and Secondary Schools


Zimbabwe
An extensive qualitative study of four schools in Zimbabwe demonstrated widespread sexual harassment of girls in three co-educational
and one all-girls secondary schools (Leach, Machakanja, & Mandoga,
2000). The authors explored the abuse to girls from the perspective of a
culture that is gendered and misogynist. The study explored both sexual abuse and nonsexual abuse and found a nexus between the two in
that both co-existed within the school environment, even though nonsexual abuse in the form of corporal punishment is illegal. For example, if a girl denies a teachers sexual advances, she risks his physical
assault. By interviewing 13- to 15-year-old girls, their male classmates,
teachers, head teachers, parents, and government ofcials, it was apparent that the sexual harassment the girls experienced on their way to
and from school was from older men known as sugar daddies. Fifty
percent of girls indicated they were sexually touched, and 92 percent
were propositioned for sex in exchange for gifts or money (Amnesty
International, 2008).
The sexual harassment of school girls in Zimbabwe represents a microcosm of the amount of sexual abuse and nonsexual abuse that girls
experience outside the school milieu (Amnesty International, 2008;
Leach, 2006; Leach et al., 2000). This broader context merits a brief examination when viewing the problem of sexual harassment within and
around the school environment. Girls and women are considered less
valuable within much of African culture, and are vulnerable because of
their low socioeconomic status resulting in their dependence on men.
Additionally, males are socialized to view females as their property
and someone to serve them, and that girls and women should obey
what boys and men require of them. The girls socialization results in
their lowered self-esteem and acceptance of male aggression as the
norm, making them vulnerable to abuse. Men and boys offer of money
and gifts, therefore, becomes an enticing element in the male power
dynamic of manipulating the girls into sexual relationships. The abuse
the girls experience in school mirrors the violence perpetrated against
them in public places by male strangers, and at home in the form of
sexual abuse, beatings, neglect, excessive work, and verbal abuse.

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

Older boys and male teachers were the most likely perpetrators of
the girls (Leach, 2006; Mirsky, 2003; Education For All Monitoring
Report Team, 2008). Sexual violence included the following behaviors:
invading the girls space in an intimidating manner, badgering them in
the hallways and on school grounds, entering their classrooms uninvited, touching their breasts and buttocks often leading to sexual
assault, and verbally abusing demeaning the female gender by shouting obscenities and calling them whores and prostitutes. The boys sent
love letters as a way to propose, but if the girls refused the boys proposals, they were met with verbal insults, name calling, or physical
assault.
Male teachers abused their power to tantalize both younger and
older girls into a sexual liaison, often using money and gifts like the
sugar daddies in the public arena (Leach, 2006; Mirsky, 2003). This was
standard accepted behavior and often perpetrated on a girl during
class in front of other students. Teachers were not punished which
increased the likelihood of the tantalizing becoming sexual abuse.
Shumba (2001) discovered that 65.6 percent of sexual abuse by teachers
included sexual intercourse, and 2 percent experienced rape or
attempted rape. Because teachers behaved so openly and egregiously
in front of their male students with no negative consequences to their
behavior, they became role models for the same behavior for the young
men in the classroom.
Even the girls that attended the all-girls school did not escape sexual
harassment (Mirsky, 2003; Leach, 2006). Like the coeducational girls,
they were harassed on their way to and from school by sugar daddies.
Once in the school, some male teachers were inappropriate towards
them as well. Because the legal ban on corporal punishment was
strictly enforced, unlike the coeducational schools, verbal abuse by both
female and male teachers was rampant.
The study demonstrated that differentiating between abuse and consent was sometimes a difcult distinction (Dunne et al., 2006). There
were some girls that accepted money and gifts from the older boys or
the sugar daddies, which from the males viewpoint meant a sexual
relationship. That said, because of the power differential, whether consensual or not, it was abuse and harassment.
The lack of school or government leadership in condemning and
punishing the boys or male teachers for the sexual harassment, sexual
abuse, and nonsexual abuse in the form of corporal punishment, gave
tacit approval for the behavior to continue thereby creating an environment of gender-based violence towards girls (Dunne et al., 2006; Leach,
2006; Mirsky, 2003). As could be expected, sometimes the girls became
pregnant by a teacher. If the teacher was reported, little consequence
was observed. Sometimes the girls parents ignored the pregnancy if
the teacher agreed to marry the pregnant teen and provide a home for

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213

her. The girls were assigned blame for their pregnancy by parents,
their peers, and they blamed themselves as well. Female teachers were
aware of the harassment by both the boys and the male teachers but
ignored it. The message sent to boys and girls that the abuse was normalized and expected.
The girls reported a myriad of responses to the boys harassment
reecting emotional, educational, and behavioral consequences (Dunne
et al., 2003; UN World Report on Violence Against Children, 2006).
Emotionally, they reported feeling anxious, embarrassed, confused,
scared, and irritated. They had difculty concentrating in class and
reported crying. Some were too frightened to leave the classroom,
while others ensured that their trip home was with other girls, and
avoided walking near crowds of boys. If it was a teacher who was the
harasser, the girls reported doing whatever they could to avoid the
teachers attention; they worried if they denied the teachers sexual
approach, they would be retaliated against by lowered grades, forced
to do extra work, or be physically assaulted.
Kenya
Rape in Kenyan schools is commonplace (Ceneda, 2001). In 1991, 71
girls were brutally gang raped by boys from a neighboring school
resulting in the death of 19 girls. The boys were not prosecuted. When
the headmaster for the boys school expelled them, the boys parents
sued forcing the headmaster to readmit them. When a probation ofcer
was interviewed about the incident, he acknowledged that rape was a
normal aspect of the school setting to the point that if the gang rapes
hadnt resulted in deaths, the tragedy would not have made the news.
During this same time, a primary school teacher had raped nine girls;
the teachers employment was not terminated and he continued as a
teacher.
South Africa
The HRW study of sexual violence to girls in South African schools
involved visiting eight predominantly urban public schools from a
broad range of economic strata and interviewing their administrators
and teachers (George & Thonden, 2001). Thirty six girls from different
ethnic backgrounds between the ages of 7 to 17, parents, social workers, teachers, administrators, and government ofcials were also interviewed. Twenty-three incidents of rape at school were also
investigated. Jackrolling dened the snatching and gang rape of girls
and was reported in 25 schools. As in Zimbabwe, South African girls
are regularly sexually harassed, including sexual assault and rape, by
both their male classmates and male teachers. The harassment mirrors

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the experiences of their Zimbabwean counterpartsthey are threatened, fondled, verbally humiliated, and raped in bathrooms, classrooms (in front of teachers) and hallways.
More often than not, the girls sexual violence is committed by two
or more boys (Mirsky, 2003). The abuse goes unchallenged by schools,
educators, and the government. If girls do report the abuse, they are
often retaliated against by school administrators and their peers. Teachers who are known abusers and were found to commit one third of the
rapes to children (Jewkes, Levin, Mbananga, & Bradshaw, 2002), were
not disciplined but rather were transferred to other schools to continue
their egregious behavior.
While most of the sexual harassment to the girls is perpetrated by
their male classmates, harassment by male teachers is epidemic and
severe. Teachers instigate a quid pro quo by promising the girls better
grades in return for sexual favors or a dating relationship. They taunt
the girls into a form of prostitution by offering money for sex. Conversely, teachers will threaten the girls with physical violence if they
dont comply with the teachers sexual demands. Teachers have raped,
sexually assaulted, and verbally sexually abused the girls with degrading sexual comments. One primary teacher instructed the girls to draw
a penis. A study done in 1998 by the Medical Research Council found
that 37.7 percent of rape victims, who identied their rapist, identied
one of their teachers or their principal as the perpetrator of their violence. Male teachers will ask the girls to run an errand for them to the
male staff lounge, thereby colluding with their male peers who are
waiting in the staff room where the girl would be sexually harassed or
raped (World Bank, n.d.). Understandably, girls were fearful of going
near the male teachers staff room, so they would pair up with one of
their female classmates to run the errand.
Girls were harassed and assaulted on their way to and from school
by taxi drivers (George & Thoonden, 2001). Because poor and black
girls are more likely to have to travel further to get to school, they are
more vulnerable to violence. Little attention has been directed to the
sexualized violence in South African primary schools (Bhana, 2006).
The consequences to the girls are multifaceted. In addition to the
girls dropping out of school and failing their higher education matriculation exams, their involvement in activities outside of school, such as
sports, are diminished (George & Thonden 2001). They have difculty
concentrating causing their grades to drop. Absenteeism is a common
response to the unchallenged harassment thereby disrupting their ability to learn. Sexual assaults lead to unwanted pregnancy and health
risks associated with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV/
AIDS. (George & Thonden, 2001; Leach, 2006).
A study comparing the sexual harassment of students in Johannesburg and Chicago, Illinois in the United States found that the behavior

Sexual Violence to Girls and Women in Schools around the World

215

is normalized in both schools. Eighty three percent of Chicago students


and 79 percent of Johannesburg students reported sexual harassment
by their peers. An almost equal number also disclosed that they sexually harassed their classmates74 percent and 78 percent, respectively.
Both genders from both countries had similar rates for both their
victimization and their perpetration of the same behavior on their
classmates.
West Africa
Very few female teachers work in refugee schools in West Africa
where Liberian refugee girls study in Sierra Leone and Guinea (Kirk &
Winthrop, 2008). Consequently, girls are likely to be sexually exploited
by their male teachers. In 2002, the International Rescue Committee
(IRC) instigated new imitativefemale classroom assistants (CAs) to
make the school environment safer and friendlier to girls. For example,
the CAs monitor a log book in which the girls grades are recorded,
which diminishes the likelihood of transactional sex (the exchange of
money, gifts, or grades for money) between the male teacher and the
girl. Sexual abuse to Liberian school girls by male teachers and school
staff was evident in refugee camps, where teacher abuse often involved
the demand for sex for grades (United Nations, 2002, cited in United
States Agency for International Development, 2008).
Botswana, Ghana
A study by Rossetti (2001, cited in Davies, n.d.), found that 67 percent of students in Botswana schools (including some boys) had been
subjected to sexual harassment by teachers. Twenty percent of these
students were propositioned by their teacher for sex, and 42 percent of
the students complied due to fear of retaliation if they did not. In
Ghana, 13.5 percent of girls in both primary and secondary schools
were victims of sexual abuse at school (Brown, 2002).
Malawi, Cameroon, and Uganda
Amnesty International (2008) reported that 50 percent of Malawi
girls experienced unwanted sexual touching by their teachers or male
classmates (Leach, Fiscian, Kadzamira, Lemani, & Machakanja, 2003).
According to the World Bank (n.d.), eight percent of school girls from
Cameroon were sexually abused by their teachers. A student in
Uganda reported that one of her male teachers required that she wash
his feet, take water to the bathroom, and when he appeared naked
asked her to help him as a man (ActionAid, n.d., p. 4).

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

Morocco, Benin, and Tunisia


The farther the girls have to walk to get to school, the less likely
parents in Morocco and Tunisia are willing to let their daughters
attend school (King & Hill, 1993). While the authors do not specically
identify gendered violence or sexual harassment as the cause of
parents trepidation, they recognized that the walk to school would
make their daughters vulnerable to moral and physical peril (King &
Hill, p. 33). Wible (2004) found that 43 percent of primary and 80 percent of secondary students in Benin, dropped out of school because of
sexual abuse. Another survey discovered that 34 percent of children
and 15 percent of teachers attested to sexual violence occurring in their
schools (Plan, 2008). Rarely are any of the incidents reported to school
ofcials.

Colleges and Universities


Zimbabwe
Research conducted on institutions of higher learning in Zimbabwe
uncovered considerable sexual harassment of 2,756 female students by
male lecturers (Zindi, 1998). Fear of further victimization was identied
by 90 percent of the women as a reason sexual harassment is either
underreported or not reported. Their fear was supported when 45 percent of female students told of lowered grades when they refused their
lecturers sexual advances or if they terminated an ongoing dating relationship. A little over 1 percent of the women indicated that they
would date a lecturer to improve their grades, and almost 9 percent
asserted that any student over the age of 18 had a right to date a single
lecturer. In contrast, 21 percent of females believed dating lecturers
was unethical because the student may have an unfair grade advantage
because exam papers may be provided to the lecturers student paramour prior to the exam. A full 64 percent of women students perceived
their lecturers as corrupt. Every woman who completed the survey
indicated that legislation should be enacted to protect students against
lecturers, and all of them knew lecturers who had abused their power
to take advantage of women students.
Gaidzanwa (1994) posited that female students were said to be asking for it if they ventured outside the union buildings. Incidents
called kning, which include sexual harassment of women including
rape, abuse of alcohol, and other forms of violence by male students,
were chronicled in a report written by the universitys proctor. At one
point, a student wearing a mini skirt was attacked by 100 male students. Sexual harassment by male faculty, including transactional sex,
was reported.

Sexual Violence to Girls and Women in Schools around the World

217

Kenya
According to Ceneda (2001), sexual harassment and exploitation of
female university students is rampant in Kenya, and is identied as
one of the obstacles to womens educational achievement. Women are
pressured for sex, raped, groped, fondled, and subjected to cat calls,
with rare action taken against the perpetrator.
Ghana
Trainee teachers from a university and a college are sexually harassed most frequently during 1) promotional exams, 2) continuous
assessment, 3) admission practices, 4) exam practices by typists, 5) student allowances, 6) domestication of female students, and 7) study
mates (Teni-Atinga, 2006, pp. 199200). The harassment sometimes
includes persistent sexual coercion from lecturers with threats of a lowered grade or not passing the exam to move forward with a students
education. The sexual harassment begins when women are seeking college admission and does not stop until they are through the program.
They experience anger, frustration, helplessness, and a sense of powerlessness because of the inability to bring a complaint to the school for
fear of ridicule and stigma.
Nigeria
The sexual harassment of female students by professors on Nigerias
universities gained the attention of the countrys president, General
Olusegun Obasanjo (Ladebo, 2001, cited in Ladebo, 2003). The president made a mockery out of university teachers for using female students for their own sexual hedonism. Ladebos (2003), study of three
Nigerian universities found that none of the three had any sexual
harassment policies, in all likelihood because the country has no antisexual harassment laws. Sexual harassment by male teachers to female
students had escalated to the point that management went to the leaders of the union to implore the teachers to stop their abuse. One of the
campuses is known to have high incidents of rape and sexual assaults,
and women attending the other universities reported sexual coercion
and transactional sex if they are nancially indigent.
Phallic attack is the term coined by male lecturers at two universities
that refers to the coercion of students for sex in exchange for grades
(Nwadigwe, 2007). The author asserted that the increase in sexual harassment could be partially attributed to the lack of sex education in
African countries. Single women experienced higher rates of sexual
harassment, and were more likely to succumb to their lecturers taunts.
Only 2 percent of the victims reported the menacing lecturer. Students

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

reported that they bought gifts for the lecturer and his family in an
attempt to avoid intercourse with him.
Women students at Lagos State University in Nigeria described their
experiences on campus as a type of rape, including threats, intimidation and force from men that attempt to disguise their relationship as
friendship (Adedokun, 2005). Male teachers are the most likely perpetrators but male students and university staff also sexually harass.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN SCHOOLS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Sexual violence in schools in the Middle East is not likely to be recognized or studied because of war, political unrest, poverty, and
entrenched cultural beliefs about the role of men and women in the
region.
Secondary
Egypt
Egyptian parents are reticent to allow their daughters to attend
school if they have a long distance to walk for fear of their daughters
moral and physical peril (King & Hill, 1993, p. 33). The Egyptian
Center for Womens Rights (ECWR), an NGO, conducted the rst
country study addressing the prevalence of sexual harassment to Egyptian and tourist women on the streets of several cities (Hassan, n.d.).
The organization did not research sexual harassment to girls and
women in education specically, however, their research found 29 percent of harassment occurred in educational facilities and that schoolchildren and university students were the most likely to harass girls
and women on Egypts streets, after taxi drivers. One can speculate,
therefore, that girls and women in Egypts schools are victimized by
sexual harassment. An ECWR seminar encouraged parents to discuss
the sexual harassment in school with their children. Teachers informed
ECWR that they were at a loss as to what to tell students about sexual
harassment or what to do when they are subjected to it. ECWR is
working with the Ministry of Education to design sexual harassment
curriculum for schools to use in teaching students about the construct.
Men blamed sexual harassment on the inuence of the West, the
media, inaction by the female victim, seductive clothing, and a womans presence in specic locations (Hassan, n.d.). They also asserted
that sexual harassment should be expected because of the lust between
men and women. The men reported feeling a level of satisfaction after
harassing a woman: more masculine, and a way to show off.
The ECWR (Egyptian Center for Womens Rights, n.d.) told of a
female student whose father no longer allows her to attend school

Sexual Violence to Girls and Women in Schools around the World

219

because of the daily verbal harassment from men and boys as she and
her girlfriends travel to and from school. The girls male classmates
spread sexual rumors; her brother and father heard the rumors and
beat her. Another father sought help from ECWR when his 14-year-old
daughter refused to attend school because of the sexual harassment
she experienced on the bus ride to and from school.
Turkey
The HRW reported that girls who attend government-sponsored
medical high schools, and who are suspected of having sex or being
prostitutes, will be subjected to virginity examinations (HRW, 2001a).
The exams were banned in 1999 and reinstituted in 2001. Girls have
attempted suicide rather than be forced to the invasive and painful
exam.
Israel
A nationwide Israeli study of sexual harassment of over 10,000 public school students in seventh through eleventh grades demonstrated
that Arab boys and eighth-grade students were the most likely to
report sexual harassment (Zeira, Astor, & Benbenishty, 2002). Arab
girls, followed by Jewish girls, reported the least amount of victimizationboth Arab and Jewish boys were the most likely victims of harassment from their male classmates. Eleven percent to 36 percent of
girls reported experiencing a minimum of one act of sexual harassment, with Arab girls least likely to be harassed. Unwanted sexual
remarks and attempts to kiss the girls were the most disturbing experiences. Seven percent of the girls reported being kissed when they
didnt want to, and 11 percent indicated a classmate attempted to
touch them sexually without their consent. Out of the seven survey
items, boys experienced six of the seven considerably more often than
did the girls; the girls reports of a student attempting to take off an
item of their clothing was the only survey item in which they scored
higher. The girls most frequent sexual harassment experiences, at 11
percent, was when another student made unwanted sexual remarks
and tried to touch them sexually.
IMPACT
Hill and Silva (2005) found female students were fearful, angry,
embarrassed, and worried about whether they would have a healthy
relationship. The women reported having difculty concentrating during class and problems sleeping. According to Dziech and Weiner
(1990), denial is one of the effective coping mechanisms sexual

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

harassment targets employ to deal with their victimization. When the


behavior continues, targets will attempt to avoid the harasser hoping
that if they avoid or ignore the harasser, he will eventually leave her
alone (Backhouse, 1981; Hill & Silva, 2005). Students also report strategies to avoid being noticed, such as dressing down, dropping courses,
not enrolling in courses taught by specic instructors, changing their
major or career plans, and relinquishing research opportunities due to
sexual harassment (Dziech & Weiner, 1990; Fineran & Bennett, 1998;
Mirsky, 2003). Discussing boyfriends or husbands, indicating they are
too busy studying, and other tactics are instigated to cope with the perpetrator (Benson & Thomson, 1982).
Paludi and Barickman (1991) listed behaviors into ve categories
which they termed sexual harassment trauma syndrome; (a) emotional
responses such as shame, guilt, and powerlessness; (b) physical reactions including substance abuse, lethargy, weight uctuations, phobias,
and genitourinary and gastrointestinal distress; (c) changes in selfperception, for example, feelings of hopelessness, lack of control, and
negative self-esteem; (d) social, interpersonal relatedness, and sexual
effects encompassing changes in dress or physical appearance, lack of
trust, negative attitudes and behavior in sexual relationships, and
potential sexual disorders; and (e) career effects such as changes in
study and work habits, withdrawal from school, drop in academic performance, and lowered grades (pp. 2939).
Psychological sequelae include confusion and self-blame, fear and
anxiety, depression and anger, and disillusionment (Salisbury, 1986).
Girls who have been sexually abused feel ashamed and guilty causing
them to stay quiet for fear of negative ramications, such as being
killed for bringing dishonor to their families (Blaya & Debarbieus,
2008). The immediate and long-term ramications to victims of gendered violence are copious including anxiety about their personal
safety, loss of self-esteem, anxious, and an increase in suicide risk
(George, 2001; Mirsky, 2003; HRW, 2001a, 2001b). Students may resort
to using alcohol or drugs, and participating in risky sexual behavior
(HRW, 2001a, 2001b).
Other responses included feeling upset, uncomfortable, and disappointed in their college experience (Hill & Silva, 2005), trouble concentrating and learning, and truancy (Blaya & Debarbieux, 2008). In
addition to the psychological ramications, there is an increased risk for
pregnancy, STDs, cervical cancer, infertility, and the spread of HIV/
AIDS, particularly in countries in Africa where the virus is rampant.
Long-term economic, psychological, social, and physical health consequences may result when females have been victimized (Amnesty
International, 2008). Problems may arise in adulthood such as criminal
behavior and difculty in maintaining relationships (APSA Rapport,
1999, cited in Blaya & Debarbieux, 2008).

Sexual Violence to Girls and Women in Schools around the World

221

When teachers sexually harass and abuse female students in front of


the boys in the class, or when they collude with the boys who harass
by not intervening, boys learn a violent form of masculinity that then
perpetuates gendered violence in the home and in society.
RECOMMENDATIONS
According to ActionAid International (n.d.) Violence against girls
has its roots in patriarchy and unequal power relations that still exist
worldwide. Therefore the problem must be seen within this broader
framework. It is a symptom and a result of the larger problem of gender inequality that has to be tackled in all spheres (p. 4). Addressing
the complex phenomenon of sexual violence to girls in education
requires a wide range of strategies because it is a worldwide pandemic
(Leach, 2006; Mirsky, 2003). International researchers DeSouza and Solberg (2003) asserted that In countries where women have been and
are viewed as unequal to men, new laws or procedures designed to
prevent harassment may conict with hundreds of years of culture . . .
(p. 25). The nexus of human rights, public health, legislation, and education are at the heart of any potential movement for reversing this multifarious plague (Mirsky, 2003).
The following recommendations are only a cursory list briey summarizing the in-depth recommendations from Amnesty International,
HRW, and the United Nations, among others. Each of these organizations recommendations are analogous and generally fall within six categories: research, national and international efforts, school initiatives,
community and parent verve, public health programs, and active student participation.
Research
Sexual violence is an understudied construct in which more research
is required to understand the scope and severity in individual countries and worldwide. With increased data, measurable goals and objectives can be strategically designed, implemented, monitored, and
evaluated for both the prevention and intervention of the abuse in primary, secondary, and postsecondary institutions. Much of the research
has been done qualitativelyadditional quantitative data are also
required to gain knowledge about the perpetrators and what variables
are present to prevent school ofcials from intervening to both prevent
and intervene on sexual violence (and other forms of violence) to girls
and women (and boys and men). With more study of the efcacy of
prevention and intervention treatments and services, an international
best practices database could be created as a resource for stakeholders
use worldwide.

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Heritage, Roles, and Issues

National and International Efforts


Perhaps one of the simplest steps countries could take is to ratify
the many international conventions and treaties dealing with human
rights, womens rights, and the rights of the child. The ratication is
only as effective as government follow through within each country.
Governments need to become accountable to international and national
laws, where applicable. Each countrys ministry of education should
partner with law enforcement, schools, communities, parents, NGOs,
public health agencies, and students to form local and national coalitions with the goal of stopping sexual abuse. For countries that do not
have anti-sexual harassment in school laws, legislation needs to be
enacted to stop the behavior to female students of all ages.
School Initiatives
Teachers need to be trained in sexual harassment, gender equality,
and discipline procedures that are respectful of the dignity of females
(and males). Students must learn about sexual violence, female equality, good communication skills, boundaries, and respect of gender differences. Teachers should be required to take part in ongoing training
throughout their tenure, and performance appraisals conducted by
headmasters and principals, and students should be implemented in
monitoring teacher effectiveness and behavior. More female teachers
and teachers assistance should be hired for schools where most teachers are male. Curriculum development about gender equity, sexual harassment, and effective forms of discipline, among others, should be
required in all college teacher education. Schools should develop, disseminate, and publicize effective sexual violence policies and procedures, as well as monitor their effectiveness. Teachers who sexually
abuse a student of any age should be red and referred to the police.
Disciplinary measures need to be used on students who violate the
schools policy and sexually harass their classmates.
Parents and Community Verve
The school does not operate in a vacuum; it is a reection of societys mores and values. Therefore, to change those heinous values
degrading to women and children, citizens can become members of
NGOs or other grassroots organizations working towards anti-sexual
violence programs and projects. Programs that develop men as partners in understanding and teaching other men and boys about gender
inequality and its impact on girls and women should be implemented
in communities. Each community should create their own solutions to
the problem of gender violence specic to their locale. Use of mass

Sexual Violence to Girls and Women in Schools around the World

223

media programs on radio, television, town posters, and the Internet


could be capitalized in getting the anti-sexual violence, pro-equality
message out to citizens within the community. Law enforcements
involvement will serve to diminish the likelihood of girls being sexually propositioned and accosted on their way to and from school, as
well as the abuse by their male teachers. Parents would benet from
parent education classes emphasizing gender equality, discipline, and
the importance of girls attending school. Parents should be active partners with their childrens schools to ensure competent teachers are
hired.

Public Health
Public health programs and projects dealing with HIV/AIDS and
other STDs need to be taught to all citizens within the community and
schools. Pregnancy prevention is an essential educational program
along with the use of condoms for the reduction of pregnancy, STDs,
and HIV/AIDs. Public health agencies partnering with schools and the
community would help ensure an integrated approach to dealing with
the consequences of sexual violence in schools and in the community.

Student Participation
Active student participation is essential for student buy-in in designing and implementing any process and program to stop incidents of
sexual harassment at school. Students will have some of the best problem solving capabilities about the issue because they live it on a daily
basis. Educating the boys to understand sexism, gender violence, and
the impact on their female classmates is another effective tactic in
reducing the sexual abuse. Using peer education involving older boys
teaching the younger boys would be benecial for both the boy teacher
and the boy learner. Catalyzing the boys to be advocates for their
female classmates if groups of boys are colonizing against the girls
would demonstrate positive role modeling to their male peers. Providing safe opportunities for girls to teach boys how the boys sexual
abuse impacts them emotionally, educationally, and physically may be
another catalyst in stopping the abuse.
A holistic approach, integrating strategies, agencies, organizations,
governments, and individuals will be required to effectively change a
complex epidemic that has, unfortunately, become the norm in schools
around the world. Fortunately, champions of the needed transformation have begun chipping away at this overwhelming undertaking.
This is a transformation that must be successful for girls and women,
boys and men, and for society.

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CONCLUSION
The pandemic of sexual violence in schools is not well recognized,
analyzed, or researched (Dunne et al., 2006). School ofcials may deny,
minimize, and hide sexual harassment leading to inaction as their preferential response to sexual violence in schools. In the worst case scenario, teachers, staff, and administrators may be the actual perpetrators
of the abuse. This often is contradictory of national law, school policies,
and international treaties and conventions.
Stopping sexual violence in schools is an overwhelming task that
will require changing long entrenched cultural belief systems about patriarchy, masculine hegemony, and girls and womens value in society.
This paradigm shift will require a long-term commitment from individuals; NGOs; governments; primary, secondary, and postsecondary
schools and teachers; parents; and boys and girls (Plan, 2008).

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Appendix: Womens Studies Programs


in the United States
Michele A. Paludi

Additional information regarding womens studies/gender studies programs may be obtained directly from the college or university and from
the Feminist Majority Foundation at http://feminist.org. The Feminist
Majority Foundation identies the degrees offered for each womens studies/gender studies program within the United States. Some programs
offer certicates, majors, and minors in womens studies/gender studies.
STATE
Alabama
Auburn University
University of Alabama
University of North Alabama
Alaska
University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Arizona
Arizona State University
Northern Arizona University
University of Arizona

234

Appendix

Arkansas
University of Arkansas
California
California Institute of Integral Studies
California Lutheran University
California Polytechnic State University
California State University, Chico
California State University, Fresno
California State University, Fullerton
California State University, Long Beach
California State University, Northridge
California State University, Sacramento
California State University, San Bernadino
California State University, San Marcos
California State University, Stanislaus
Cerritos College
Claremont Colleges
Claremont Graduate University
Foothill College
Mills College
Montclair State University
Moorpark College
New College of California
Ohlone College
Pomona College
Saddleback College
San Diego State University
San Francisco State University
Santa Clara University
Santa Monica College
Scripps College
Sonoma State University
Stanford University
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Riverside
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of California, Santa Cruz

Appendix

University
University
University
University
University

of
of
of
of
of

California,
California,
California,
California,
San Diego

Los Angeles
Davis
Irvine
San Diego

Colorado
Colorado College
Fort Lewis College
Metropolitan State College of Denver
University of Colorado, Boulder
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
University of Colorado, Denver
University of Denver
University of Northern Colorado
Connecticut
Connecticut College
Faireld University
Hartford College for Women
Southern Connecticut State University
Trinity College
Delaware
University of Delaware
District of Columbia
American University
George Washington University
Georgetown University
Trinity College
Florida
Eckerd College
Florida Atlantic University
Florida International University

235

236

Appendix

Florida State University


Nova Southeastern
Rollins College
Stetson University
University of Central Florida
University of Florida
University of Miami, Coral Gables
University of North Florida
University of South Florida
University of Tampa
University of West Florida
Georgia
Agnes Scott College
Clark Atlanta University
Emory University
Georgia College and State University
Georgia State University
Georgia Tech
University of Georgia
Hawaii
University of Hawaii, Manoa
Idaho
Albertson College
Idaho State University
University of Idaho
Illinois
Augustana College
Bradley University
DePaul University
Eastern Illinois University
Knox College
Loyola University

Appendix

Northeastern Illinois University


Northern Illinois University
Northwestern University
Principia College
Roosevelt University
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville
University of Chicago
University of Illinois, Chicago
University of Illinois, Springeld
Indiana
DePauw University
Earlham College
Indiana State University
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana University, South Bend
Indiana University, Purdue University Fort Wayne
St. Marys College
University of Notre Dame
Valparaiso University
Iowa
Coe College
Cornell College
Drake University
Grinnell College
Iowa State University
Luther College
Simpson College
University of Iowa
University of Northern Iowa
Kansas
Emporia State University
Kansas State University
University of Kansas

237

238

Appendix

Kentucky
Berea College
Brescia University
Eastern Kentucky University
Lexington Community College
Northern Kentucky University
University of Kentucky
University of Louisville
Louisiana
Louisiana State University
McNeese State University
Newcomb College
University of New Orleans
Maine
Bates College
Bowdoin College
Colby College
University of Maine, Farmington
University of Maine, Orono
University of Southern Maine
Maryland
Frostburg State University
Montgomery College
St. Marys College of Maryland
The Johns Hopkins University
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
University of Maryland, College Park
Massachusetts
Amherst College
Boston College
Boston University
Brandeis University

Appendix

Bridgewater State College


Clark University
College of the Holy Cross
Emmanuel College
Greeneld Community College
Hampshire College
Harvard University
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Radcliffe College
Salem State College
Simmons College
Smith College
Towson University
Tufts University
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
University of Massachusetts, Lowell
University of Massachusetts, Boston

Michigan
Albion College
Alma College
Central Michigan University
Eastern Michigan University
Grand Valley State University
Greeneld Community College
Hope College
Kalamazoo College
Michigan State University
University of Detroit
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
University of Michigan, Dearborn

Minnesota
Carleton College
Century College

239

240

Appendix

College of St. Benedict


College of St. Catherine
College of St. Scholastica
Hamline University
Macalester College
Minnesota State University, Mankato
St. Cloud State University
St. Olaf College
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
University of Minnesota, Duluth
Mississippi
Millsaps College
Mississippi State University
University of Mississippi
Missouri
Avila College
Central Missouri State University
Maryville University of St. Louis
Saint Louis Missouri
Southwest Missouri State University
University of Missouri, Kansas
University of Missouri, St. Louis
Montana
Montana State University, Bozeman
University of Montana
Nevada
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
University of Nevada, Reno
New Hampshire
Dartmouth College
Franklin Pierce College

Appendix

Keene State College


Plymouth State University
Rivier College
New Jersey
College of New Jersey
Drew University
Georgia Court College
Monmouth University
Montclair State University
New Jersey City University
Princeton University
Ramapo College
Richard Stockton College
Rider University
Rowan University
Rutgers University
Rutgers University, Camden
New Mexico
Eastern New Mexico University
New Mexico State University
University of New Mexico
New York
Bard College
Barnard College
Brooklyn College
Canisus College
City University of New York Graduate Center
Colgate University
College of New Rochelle
College of Staten Island
Columbia University
Cornell University
Hamilton College
Hartwick College

241

242

Appendix

Hobart and William Smith Colleges


Iona College
Jewish Theological Seminary
Lehman College
Marist College
Marymount College
New School for Social Research
New York University
Pace University
Queens College
Russell Sage College
Sarah Lawrence College
Simons Rock College
Skidmore College
St. Lawrence University
State University of New York, Albany
State University of New York, Buffalo
State University of New York, Cortland
State University of New York, Fredonia
State University of New York, Geneseo
State University of New York, New Paltz
State University of New York, Oneonta
State University of New York, Oswego
State University of New York, Plattsburgh
State University of New York, Potsdam
State University of New York, Purchase
State University of New York, Rochester
State University of New York, Stony Brook
Syracuse University
Union College
North Carolina
Appalachian State University
Bennett College
Davidson College
Duke University
East Carolina University
Elton College

Appendix

Guilford College
North Carolina State University
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina, Charlotte
University of North Carolina, Greensboro
University of North Carolina, Wilmington

North Dakota
North Dakota State University
University of North Dakota

Ohio
Antioch College
Bowling Green State University
Case Western Reserve University
College of Mount St. Joseph
College of Wooster
Denison University
Kent State University
Kenyon College
Marietta College
Miami University
Notre Dame College of Ohio
Oberlin College
Ohio State University
Ohio University
Ohio Wesleyan University
University of Akron
University of Cincinnati
University of Dayton
University of Toledo

Oklahoma
Oklahoma State University
University of Central Oklahoma
University of Oklahoma

243

244

Appendix

Oregon
Lewis & Clark College
Oregon State University
Portland State University
Southern Oregon University
University of Oregon
Pennsylvania
Allegheny College
Bryn Mawr College
Bucknell University
California University of Pennsylvania
Chatham College
Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Dickinson College
Franklin and Marshall College
Gettysburg College
Haverford College
Lafayette College
LaSalle University
Lehigh University
Lock Haven University
Lycoming College
Manseld University
Millersville University
Pennsylvania State University
Rosemont College
Shippensburg University
Slippery Rock University
Rhode Island
Brown University
University of Rhode Island
South Carolina
Clemson University
College of Charleston

Appendix

University of South Carolina, Columbia


University of South Carolina, Spartanburg
South Dakota
Augustana College
South Dakota State University
Tennessee
Austin Peay State University
Middle Tennessee University
Tennessee Technological University
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
University of the South
Vanderbilt University
Texas
Austin College
Rice University
Southern Methodist University
Southwest Texas State University
Southwestern University
Texas A & M University
Texas Tech University
University of Houston
University of North Texas
University of Texas, Arlington
University of Texas, Austin
University of Texas, Dallas
University of Texas, El Paso
Utah
Brigham Young University
University of Utah
Vermont
Middlebury College
Saint Michaels College
University of Vermont

245

246

Appendix

Virginia
College of William and Mary
George Mason University
Hollins University
James Madison University
Old Dominion University
Radford University
Randolph Macon Womens College
University of Richmond
University of Virginia
Washington
Clark College
Eastern Washington University
Edmonds Community College
Evergreen State College
Gonzaga University
Pacic Lutheran University
University of Puget Sound
University of Redlands
University of Washington

West Virginia
Marshall University
Mary Baldwin College
West Virginia University

Wisconsin
Beloit College
Lawrence University
Marquette University
University of Wisconsin,
University of Wisconsin,
University of Wisconsin,
University of Wisconsin,
University of Wisconsin,

Eau Claire
Green Bay
La Crosse
Madison
Milwaukee

Appendix

University
University
University
University
University
University
University
University

of
of
of
of
of
of
of
of

Wisconsin,
Wisconsin,
Wisconsin,
Wisconsin,
Wisconsin,
Wisconsin,
Wisconsin,
Wisconsin,

Oshkosh
Parkside
Platteville
River Falls
Stevens Point
Stout
Superior
Whitewater

247

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About the Editor and Contributors

EDITOR
Michele A. Paludi, PhD, is the series editor for Womens Psychology for
Praeger Publishers, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC. She is the author/editor of 33 college textbooks and more than 160 scholarly articles and
conference presentations on sexual harassment, campus violence, psychology of women, gender, and sexual harassment and victimization.
Her book, Ivory Power: Sexual Harassment on Campus (1990), received the
1992 Myers Center Award for Outstanding Book on Human Rights in the
United States). Dr. Paludi served as Chair of the U.S. Department of Educations Subpanel on the Prevention of Violence, Sexual Harassment, and
Alcohol and Other Drug Problems in Higher Education. She was one of
six scholars in the United States to be selected for this Subpanel. She also
was a consultant to and a member of former New York State Governor
Mario Cuomos Task Force on Sexual Harassment. Dr. Paludi serves as an
expert witness for court proceedings and administrative hearings on sexual harassment. She has had extensive experience in conducting training
programs and investigations of sexual harassment and other EEO issues
for businesses and educational institutions. In addition, Dr. Paludi has
held faculty positions at Franklin & Marshall College, Kent State University, Hunter College, Union College, and Union Graduate College, where
she directs the human resource management certicate program. She
teaches in the School of Management.

CONTRIBUTORS
Kristin Anderson, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the
University of HoustonDowntown where she teaches social psychology,
psychology of prejudice, psychology of women, and psychology and the

250

About the Editor and Contributors

law. Her research interests are in the areas of prejudice, stereotyping, and
discrimination.
Martha E. Banks, PhD, is a research neuropsychologist in the Research &
Development Division of ABackans DCP, Inc., in Akron, Ohio and a former professor of Black Studies at The College of Wooster. She has been
instrumental in the development and revision of the Ackerman-Banks Neuropsychological Rehabilitation Battery; a test that is distinguished by its
inclusion of ethnic content and Women with Disabilities in the normative
sample. Dr. Banks is president of the Society for the Psychology of
Women. She is a fellow of American Psychological Association Divisions
35 (Society for the Psychology of Women), 22 (Rehabilitation Psychology),
and 56 (Trauma Psychology) and has served on the APA Council of Representatives and Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public
Interest. In 2008, she received a Presidential Citation from the American
Psychological Association for her expertise and service. Dr. Banks has
served on national advisory boards, including the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Human Developments Expert Panel on Caregiving for People
with Disabilities, and the National Advisory Board on Medical Rehabilitation Research. Dr. Banks is widely published; her articles include and
emphasize issues, particularly seldom addressed issues, affecting women
with disabilities and members of ethnic minority groups.
Susan Basow, PhD, is Charles A. Dana Professor of Psychology at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where she helped found the womens studies program and chaired the psychology department for six
years. Dr. Basow has taught courses on the psychology of gender since
1974 and is the author of the textbook, Gender: Stereotypes and Roles. A licensed psychologist, she also has published the results of many of her
studies of gender issues in course evaluations and of women and their
bodies. She has been a member of the executive committee of the Society
for the Psychology of Women since 2000.
Kristin P. Beals, PhD, earned her BA from Auburn University in 1995.
She earned her doctorate degree in social psychology from UCLA in 2003.
She has been an assistant professor at California State University, Fullerton for the past 4 years. Her research has focused on understanding how
stigma impacts the well-being of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals.
Breena E. Coates, PhD, is Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Management, College of Business and Public Administration at
California State University, San Bernadino. She has been a professor of
management for the department of command, leadership, and management at the United States Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She
has a BA in English from Calcutta University and an MPA and Ph.D. in

About the Editor and Contributors

251

public policy impacts on organizational behavior from the University of


Pittsburgh. Her current research focuses on impacts of public policy on
organizational behavior, strategic management, and leadership. A second
area of interest is organizational behavior, strategy and cultural change in
the United States military. She is also researching the role of Indian policewomen who were trained and sent to keep peace in Liberia.
J. Harold Ellens is a retired university professor of philosophy and psychology, a retired U.S. Army Colonel, a retired Presbyterian pastor and
theologian, Executive Director Emeritus of the Christian Association for
Psychological Studies International, Founder and Editor in Chief Emeritus
of the Journal of Psychology and Christianity, a clinical psychotherapist in
private practice, and the author, co-author, or editor of 175 volumes and
author of 166 professional journal articles. He continues in his role as
Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Biblical Studies at University of
Detroit Mercy, in Classics at Wayne State University, and Research Scholar
in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan.
Leanne Faraday-Brash is an organizational psychologist, executive coach,
facilitator and mediator with two decades of experience in organizational
capability and culture, workplace justice, and conict resolution and leadership. While Leanne consults in a range of areas, the common thread is
the emphasis on improving organizational effectiveness and workplace
climate for all staff to drive performance and maximize organizational
health and well-being. Leanne is also the founding principal of the Workplace Justice Consortium.
Gordon B. Forbes, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist, is a Professor of
Psychology Emeritus at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, and the
director and cofounder of the Millikin Project on Social Perceptions. His
research interests include cross-cultural, ethnic, gender, and generational
differences in body image; cross-cultural and gender differences in interpersonal aggression; and sexism.
Emily A. Haddad, PhD, is the author of Orientalist Poetics: The Islamic
Middle East in Nineteenth-Century English and French Poetry (2002) and has
published mainly in the eld of nineteenth-century British literary studies. She earned her PhD in Comparative Literature at Harvard University
in 1997 and is now Professor and Chair of English at the University of
South Dakota.
Jaehee Jung, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Fashion
and Apparel Studies at University of Delaware. Her research interests
include effects of cognitive and sociocultural variables on body image,
cross-cultural research in body image, cultures in transition and changing

252

About the Editor and Contributors

roles of women, media inuences on body image, muscular body ideals


and male body image; and ethical issues in fashion advertising.
Melinda Kanner is a Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology at the
University of HoustonDowntown in Houston, Texas, where she teaches
courses in anthropology, mass media, and sociology. Her research
explores the media expression of identity and has focused on tourism
(Savannah), gay identity (Queer Eye For the Straight Guy), and masculinity
(Mad Men).
Jennifer L. Martin is the department head of English at a public alternative high school for at-risk students in Michigan and a lecturer at Oakland
University where she teaches graduate research methods in the department of Educational Leadership, Feminist Methods, and Introduction to
Womens Gender Studies in the department of Women and Gender Studies. She is not only a feminist teacher, but a feminist activist. She has volunteered as an assault responder and engaged in political action for
feminist causes. Currently, she is the Title IX Education Task Force Chair
for the Michigan National Organization for Women in order to advocate
for Title IX compliance in Michigans schools. She has conducted research
and written articles on the topics of peer sexual harassment, teaching for
social justice, service learning, and the at-risk student.
Rhonda M. Schultz is a graduate student in the MA program in psychology at California State University at Fullerton. She received her BA in psychology from CSU Fullerton in 2006 and has plans to continue on for her
PhD in psychology in 2010. She is currently working on research investigating the effects of the passage of anti-gay marriage legislation in California on gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals residing there.
William Schweinle received a PhD (2002) from the University of Texas at
Arlington in Experimental (Social and Quantitative) Psychology. His
research has focused on the social psychology of mens wife directed
aggression and mens sexual harassment of women, among other areas.
He is currently an Assistant Professor in the University of South Dakota
Physician Assistant Program and Chair of the South Dakota Medical
Institutional Review Board.
Samantha Smith presently resides in Southern New England. She
earned her Bachelors degree in psychology and is currently working on
her Masters in special education.
Susan Strauss, RN, EdD, is a national and international speaker, trainer,
and consultant. Her specialty areas include harassment and workplace
bullying, organization development, and management/leadership

About the Editor and Contributors

253

development. Her clients are from business, education, healthcare, law,


and government organizations from both the public and private sector.
Dr. Strauss has authored book chapters, articles in professional journals,
written curriculum and training manuals, as well as authored the book,
Sexual Harassment and Teens: A Program for Positive Change. Susan has been
featured on The Donahue Show, CBS Evening News, and other television
and radio programs as well as interviewed for newspaper and journal
articles such as the Times of London, Lawyers Weekly, and Harvard Education
Newsletter. Susan has presented at international conferences in Botswana,
Egypt, Thailand, Israel, and the United States, and conducted sex discrimination research in Poland. She has consulted with professionals from
other countries such as England, Australia, Canada, and St. Maartin.

This page intentionally left blank

Index

Academic achievements, gender


differences in, 20; culture as cause
for, 33; mathematics and, 3031,
32; media coverage and, 34;
potential solutions for, 3840;
Title IX and, 3536, 37
ActionAid International, 221
Afghanistan, sexual harassment in
schools, 206
All-Volunteer Force, 116
Ambivalence toward Men Inventory
(AMI), 7, 89; benevolence toward
men, 7; hostility toward men, 7
Ambivalent sexism, 11; benevolent
sexism, 12, 13; hostile sexism, 12,
13; studies on, 14; women chivalry
and, 1314
American Association of University
Women (AAUW), 19, 34, 48, 49,
19394, 195, 198
American Psychiatric Association, 135
American Psychological Associations
Guidelines on Multicultural
Education, Training, Research,
Practice, and Organizational
Change for Psychologists, 14951
Anorexia nervosa, 162
Anti-gay campaign, 14244
Anxiety disorders and lesbian and
bisexual women, 13839
Arizona Star, 11819

Army Research Institute of


Environmental Medicine, 117
The Army Times, 117
Arroyo, Gloria Macapagal, 107
Australia: colleges, sexual harassment
in, 210; schools, sexual harassment
in, 2078
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS),
67
Australian Institute of Health and
Welfare (AIHW) National
Perinatal Statistics Unit, 78
The Australian Newspaper, 69
Bachelet, Michelle, 97, 1046
Beaton Consulting, 68
Beijing Declaration and Platform for
Action, 53
Belgium, sexual harassment in
schools, 202
Benedict XVI (Pope), 90, 94
Benevolence toward men, 78, 9
Benevolent sexism: insidious effects
of, 13; womens view on, 12
Benin, sexual harassment in schools,
202
Blue-collar jobs, 68
Body dissatisfaction, 178; in Africa,
17476; cross-cultural research on,
16869; as culture-limited
phenomena, 16465; in East Asian

256

Index

countries, 17273; ethnic


differences and, 16970; growth of,
165; history of, 163; in Indian
peninsula, 176; in Latin American
countries, 17374; modernization
and western media impact on,
16566; reasons for using western
culture as benchmark, 170; social
change and, 16768; in Southeast
Asia, 17677; theoretical models of,
16667, feminist theory, 167,
sociocultural theory, 16667;
among Western women, 163
Body image, 16162
Botswana, sexual harassment in
schools, 215
Boy crisis, 1920, 34, 35
Brazil: body dissatisfaction in, 17374;
sexual harassment in schools,
19899
British Broadcasting Company (BBC),
201
Brosnan, Audrey, 89
Buddhism, 85
Bulimia, 162
Bush, G. H. W., 112, 117
Bush, Laura, 34
Butera, Karina, 74
Buturo, James Nsaba, 130
Cameroon, sexual harassment in
schools, 202
Canada: colleges, sexual harassment
in, 196; schools, sexual harassment
in, 193
Career Incentive Act of 1977, 47
Center-stealing, 20
Chamorro, Violetta, 107
China: colleges, sexual harassment in,
2089; schools, sexual harassment
in, 205
Cody, General Richard, 116
Colorado State Constitution, 142
Combat Action Ribbon, 117
Combat Exclusion Policy, 116
Combat-underlying premises,
objections for women in 117;
biological thesis, 11718; privacy
infringement hypothesis, 119;

psychological thesis, 118; sexual


abuse and gender harassment
theories, 11819
Constantinian revolution, 86, 88
Contingent rewards system, 98
Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination Against
Women (CEDAW), 19192
Convention on the Rights of the
Child (CRC), 192
Cyber-harassment/bullying, 189
Dati, Rachida, 66
Defense Authorization Acts (1992,
1993), 116
Democracia de los acuerdos, 105
Department of Defense (DoD), 111,
112; Manpower Research Statistics,
120
Department of Health and Human
Services, 136
Depression and lesbian and bisexual
women, 139
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
(DSM), 135
Differential aptitude tests (DAT), 31
Direct combat rule policy, 112
Discrimination: denition, 128;
expected, 132; against LGB, 131
Drug dependency of lesbian and
bisexual women, 13940
Dunwoody, General Ann E., 114
Eating disorders, 162, 178; in Africa,
17476; cross-cultural research on,
16869; as culture-limited
phenomena, 16465; diagnosing,
16263; in East Asian countries,
171172; history of, 164; in Indian
peninsula, 176; in Latin America,
17374; modernization and
western media impact on, 16566;
reasons for using western culture
as benchmark, 170; in Southeast
Asia, 17677
Ecuador, sexual harassment in
schools, 199
Education, women in, 43; barriers to
gender equity in, 4551, gender

Index
curriculum, 4748, gender
stereotyping, 4647, gendered roles
and expectations, 4546, peer
inuence, 4849, teacher behaviors,
4951; educational attainment,
4445; effects of differential school
experiences, 5153; gender bias in
evaluating women professors,
5657; women as students, 4344;
women as teachers and professors,
53, gendered teaching styles,
5455, representation, 5354
Education Amendments of 1972, 47
Egypt, sexual harassment in schools,
21819
Egyptian Center for Womens Rights
(ECWR), 21819
England, sexual harassment in
schools, 200201
Equal Employment Opportunity
(EEO), 67, 7071, 79
Equal Opportunity for Women in the
Workplace Agency (EOWA), 68, 71
Eve-teasing, 209
Failing at Fairness: How Americas
Schools Cheat Girls, 19
Farrell, Warren, 19
Fear of extinction, 131
Feminine political persona, 97, 107;
Bachelet, Michelle, 97, 1046;
Johnson Sirleaf, Ellen, 97, 1034;
leadership styles, transformational
style, 9899, transactional style, 98,
99; Queen Victoria, 9798, 99103
Feminism, 2; attitude towards men, 5;
attitude towards women, 5;
denition, 4; Smith, Samantha
views on, 6364
Feminist Majority Foundation, 39
Feminist movement, 63
Feminist theory of body
dissatisfaction, 16667
Finland, sexual harassment in
schools, 202
Fourth World Conference on Women,
53
France, sexual harassment in schools,
202

257

Gallup Poll (2003), 118


Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education
Network (GLSEN), 195
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and
transgendered (GLBT), sexual
harassment of, 195, 198
Gender-based discrimination, 1011
Gender bias in evaluating women
professors, 5657
Gender differences, 27; in academic
achievement, culture as cause for,
33, mathematics and, 3031, 32,
media coverage and, 34, potential
solutions for, 3840, Title IX and,
3536, 37; negative stereotypes
based on, 28; socialization of girls
and, 29; sociocultural inuences in,
28; in workplace, 2930
Gendered teaching styles, 5455
Gender equity in education, barriers
to, 4551; gender curriculum,
4748; gender stereotyping, 4647;
gendered roles and expectations,
4546; peer inuence, 4849;
teacher behaviors, 4951
Gender harassment, 191; in college of
United States, 197; in military,
11819
Gender schema theory, 30
Gender socialization theory, 28
Germany, sexual harassment in
schools, 202
Ghana: colleges, sexual harassment
in, 217; schools, sexual harassment
in, 215
Gillard, Julia, 69
Gilligan, Carol, 19
Global war on terrorism (GWOT), 111
Ground combat policy (1994), 111
Gryson, Roger, 87
Haiti, sexual harassment in schools,
199
Healthy People 2010 initiative, 136
Hickie, Marea, 77
Hickie v Hunt & Hunt, 77
Homophobia, 16
Hostile sexism, 12
Hostility toward men, 7

258

Index

House Armed Services Committee


(HASC), 116, 11718
Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission
(HREOC), 70, 79
Human Rights Commission, 77
Hunter, Duncan, 116, 11718
Iazzo study, 56
In a Different Voice and Mary Piphers
(1994), 19
India: colleges, sexual harassment in,
20910; schools, sexual harassment
in, 2067
Institute for Antiquity and
Christianity, 88
Institute of Medicine, 135, 136
Internalized homonegativity of
lesbians, 13233
International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR), 192
International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights
(ICESCR), 192
International human rights law, 191
International Labor Organization
(ILO), 73
International Rescue Committee
(IRC), 215
Ireland Republic, sexual harassment
in school, 203
Islam, 8586
Israel, sexual harassment in schools, 219
Italy, sexual harassment in colleges,
2034
Ivy League schools, 34
Jackrolling, 213
Jamaica, sexual harassment in
schools, 199
Japan, sexual harassment in schools,
205
Jesus Movement, 86
Johnson Sirleaf, Ellen, 97, 1034, 106
Kaiser Family Foundation report, 131
Kenya: colleges, sexual harassment
in, 217; schools, sexual harassment
in, 213

Kirchner, Cristina Fernandez de, 107


Kning, 216
Korea, sexual harassment in colleges,
208
Labeling and women with
disabilities, 151
Laird, Melvin, 115
Lesbian, 17. See also sexual minority
women; attitudes towards men, 6;
internalized homonegativity,
13233; lesbian-baiting, 1618;
triple minority status and, 13031
Lesbian-baiting, 1618
Lesbian internalized homonegativity
(LIH), 13233
The Life of Queen Victoria and the Story
of Her Reign: A Beautiful Tribute to
Englands Greatest Queen in Her
Domestic and Ofcial Life, 100
Lioness: There for the Action, Missing
from History, 121
Little Rascals child comedy, 2
Los Angeles County Health Survey,
141
Ma Ellen. See Johnson Sirleaf, Ellen
Malawi, sexual harassment in schools,
215
Malaysia, sexual harassment in
colleges, 208
Male bashing, 21
Mama. See Bachelet, Michelle
Man-hating feminist, 2, 3; reasons for
existence of myth, 9; sources of, 4
Manliness, 18
Manseld, Harvey, 18
McLagan, Meg, 121
McMaster University Residency
Training Programs, 196
Meir, Golda, 106
Military Police Corps, 115
Military services, women in, 121;
defensive positions for, 11112;
direct combat rule policy, 112; goal
displacement, distortion and drift,
11215; history and law, 11517;
objections: for women in combat
premises, 117, biological thesis,

Index
11718, privacy infringement
hypothesis, 119, psychological
thesis, 118, sexual abuse and
gender harassment theories,
11819; USWAC women in
combat survey research, 11920
Minority stress theory, 131
Montraynaud, Florence, 66
Morocco, sexual harassment in
schools, 216
Mugabe, Robert Gabriel, 129
The Myth of Male Power, 19
Napolitano, Janet, 118
National Advisory Council on
Womens Educational Programs,
19091
National Assessment of Educational
Progress, 20
National Collective of the Rights of
Women, 66
National College Women Sexual
Victimization (NCWSV), 19798
National Collegiate Athletic
Association (NCAA), 36
National Institute on Disability and
Rehabilitation Research, 150
National Womens Law Center, 36
Nepal, sexual harassment in schools,
207
Netherland: colleges, sexual
harassment in, 204; schools,
sexual harassment in, 201
Nigeria, sexual harassment in
colleges, 21718
Nixon, Christine, 69
Non-feminists, attitudes toward
women, 6
OBeirne, Kate, 19
Pakistan, sexual harassment in
schools, 2056
Persian Gulf War, 117, 119
Phallic attack, 217
Pink jobs, 68
Prejudice, 127
Presidential Commission on the
Assignment of Women in the

259

Armed Forces (PCAWAF), 112,


117, 118
Puerto Rico, sexual harassment in
colleges, 199
Ragging, 206, 209
Rape crisis centers, 17
Rehabilitation psychologist, 15456
Religion as stigma against same-sex
sexual behavior, 12829
Religious leaders, women as, 85, 93;
in Christian missionaries, 8691,
92; constantinian revolution and,
86, 88; in Muslim congregations,
9192; in Roman Catholic church,
89, 90
Reviving Ophelia, 19
Revolutionary War, 115
Risk Rule, 116
Robinson, James M., 87
Rumsfeld, Donald, 116
Russia, sexual harassment in schools,
207
Schlaffy, Phyllis, 118
Schroeder, Pat, 116
September 11, 2001, 12021
Sex Discrimination Act (SDA), 70, 71
Sexism, 11
Sexual bullying, 18889
Sexual coercion, 191
Sexual harassment, 19, 187, 189;
denition, 190; in education, 192,
224, in Africa, 21018, in Asia
Pacic, 20410, in Europe, 2004,
impact, 21921, in Latin America
and Caribbean, 198200, in
Middle East, 21819, in North
America, 19298; experiences of
college women, 191; national
laws prohibiting, 191;
recommendations for prohibiting,
22123, national and international
efforts, 222, parents and
community verve, 22223, public
health, 223, research, 221, school
initiatives, 222, student
participation, 223,
terminology, 18889

260

Index

Sexual harassment trauma syndrome,


220
Sexual minority women: behavioral
risk factors and health practices,
14041; consequences: barriers to
health care, 13638, depression
and anxiety disorders, 13839,
drug dependency, 13940, legal
and economic impact for same-sex
female couples, 134, lesbian health
disparities, history of, 13536,
mental and physical health, 135,
mental health disparities, 138,
physical health disparities, 140,
social costs for sexual minority
women, 13435; of stigma,
133 coping strategies, 14244;
discrimination, experience of, 131,
expected discrimination, 132,
internalized homonegativity,
13233; minority stress
theory, 131; outcomes, 14142;
sources of stigma, religion,
12829, westernization, 12930;
triple minority status,
13031; understanding stigma,
126, prejudice, 127,
stereotyping, 12728, stigma,
12627
Sexual violence, 187; as
reection of gender inequality,
18990; in schools, study on, 188
Sociocultural theory of body
dissatisfaction, 16667
Sommers, Christina Hoff, 19
Sommers, Daria, 121
South Africa, sexual harassment in
schools, 21315
South Asian countries,
sexual harassment in schools, 206
Spain: college, sexual harassment in,
204; schools, sexual harassment in,
202
Stereotyping, 12728
Stigma, 12627
Stigma consciousness, 132
Sturduts, Maya, 66
Summers, Christiana Hoff, 34
Summers, Lawrence, 27, 37

Sweden: college, sexual harassment


in, 204; schools, sexual harassment
in, 2023
Swedish National Agency for
Education, 202
Texas Civil Right Project, 195
Thailand, sexual harassment in
colleges, 210
Thatcher, Margaret, 106
Theresa, Mother, 91
Title IX, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39
Tunisia, sexual harassment in schools,
216
Turkey, sexual harassment in schools,
219
Uganda, sexual harassment in
schools, 215
United Nations, 12930, 187, 191
United Nations Millennium Summit,
192; Millennium Development
Goals, 192
United Nations Secretary-Generals
Study on Violence against
Children, 192, 207
United Nations Study on Violence
Against Children, 187
United States: Army War College in
combat survey research, 11920;
colleges, sexual harassment in,
19798; sexual harassment in
secondary schools, 19396
Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, 192
Unwanted sexual attention, 191
U.S. Military Academy, 115
U.S. Department of Education, Ofce
of Civil Rights (OCR) (1993), 190,
194, 195
U.S. Department of Labor, 80
Victoria, Queen, 9798, 103, 106;
family life of, books on, 100101;
as female monarch, 100; Plunketts
views on, 102; portrait description,
102; reign in England, 99100
Vocational Educational Act of 1976,
47

Index
The War Against Boys: How Misguided
Feminism is Harming our Young
Men, 19, 34
West Africa, sexual harassment in
schools, 215
westernization, as stigma against
same-sex sexual behavior, 12930
Williams Institute, 134
The Woman Haters, 12
Women: attitude towards men, 10;
barriers to ascendance of women
in workplaces, 7376; as
consumers, 70; discrimination
against women on pregnancy, 77;
in education. See education,
women in; EEO law and, 7073;
glass ceiling phenomenon and,
7376; in leadership, 15. See also
feminine political persona;
maternal wall phenomenon and,
7779; in military. See military
services, women in; penalties for
nontraditional, 1416; with power,
6970; sexual harassment impact
on, 21921; sticky oor
phenomenon, 7677; treating
women badly, 75; views on
benevolent sexism, 12; work/
family conict and, 7981;
workforce participation and
earning parity, 6768; in
workplace, 2829

261

Women in Combat Compendium,


119
Womens Armed Forces Integration
Act (1948), 115
Womens Educational Equity Act of
1974, 47
Women with disabilities: abuse
related to disability-related
settings, 153; abuse related to
helping relationships, 15354; as
cultural group, 15152; emotional
abuse, disability-related, 152;
nancial abuse, disability-related,
154; physical abuse,
disability-related, 15253;
rehabilitation psychologist treating
abused, 15456; rehabilitation
psychology, guidelines for, 14951;
safety concerns for, 15254;
sexual abuse, disability-related,
153
Women Who Make the World Worse
and How Their Radical Feminist
Assault Is Ruining Our Schools,
Families, Military, and Sports,
1920
World Christian Encyclopedia, 85
World Health Organization (WHO),
189, 192
Zimbabwe: colleges, sexual
harassment in, 216; schools,
sexual harassment in, 21113

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Feminism and Womens


Rights Worldwide

Recent Titles in
Womens Psychology
Intimate Violence against Women: When Spouses, Partners, or Lovers Attack
Paula K. Lundberg-Love and Shelly L. Marmion, editors
Daughters of Madness: Growing Up and Older with a Mentally Ill Mother
Susan Nathiel
Psychology of Women: Handbook of Issues and Theories, Second Edition
Florence L. Denmark and Michele Paludi, editors
WomanSoul: The Inner Life of Womens Spirituality
Carole A. Rayburn and Lillian Comas-Diaz, editors
The Psychology of Women at Work: Challenges and Solutions for Our Female
Workforce
Michele A. Paludi, editor

Feminism and Womens


Rights Worldwide
Volume 2
Mental and Physical Health

MICHELE A. PALUDI, EDITOR


Praeger Perspectives
Womens Psychology
Michele A. Paludi, Series Editor

PRAEGER
An Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC

Copyright 2010 by Michele A. Paludi


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any
means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,
except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review, without prior
permission in writing from the publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Feminism and womens rights worldwide / Michele A. Paludi, editor.
v. ; cm. (Womens psychology)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Contents: The myth of the man-hating feminist / Melinda Kanner and
Kristin J. Anderson Gender differences : the arguments regarding abilities /
Jennifer L. Martin Women in education : students and professors worldwide
/ Susan Basow In womens voices / Samantha Smith Working life as a
house : a tale of oors, walls, and ceilings / Leanne Faraday-Brash Women
as religious leaders : advances and stalemates / J. Harold Ellens The
feminine political persona : Queen Victoria, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Michelle
Bachelet / Emily A. Haddad and William Schweinle Women in the military : is
it time to un-gender combat roles? / Breena E. Coates Sexual minority
women : sources and outcomes of stigmatization / Rhonda M. Schultz, and
Kristin P. Beals Special issues for women with disabilities / Martha E.
Banks Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating : the globalization of
western appearance ideals / Jaehee Jung and Gordon B. Forbes Sexual
violence to girls and women in schools around the world / Susan Strauss.
ISBN 978-0-313-37596-5 (set : hard copy : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-31337597-2 (set : ebook) ISBN 978-0-313-37598-9 (v.1 : hard copy : alk. paper)
ISBN 978-0-313-37599-6 (v.1 : ebook) ISBN 978-0-313-37600-9 (v.2 : hard
copy : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-313-37601-6 (v.2 : ebook) ISBN 978-0-31337602-3 (v.3 : hard copy : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-313-37603-0 (v.3 : ebook)
1. Feminism. 2. Womens rights. 3. Sexual harassment of women. 4. Abused
womenPsychology. 5. WomenPsychology. I. Paludi, Michele Antoinette
HQ1180.F424 2010
305.42dc22
2009035343
ISBN: 978-0-313-37596-5
EISBN: 978-0-313-37597-2
14 13 12

11 10

2 3 4 5

This book is also available on the World Wide Web as an eBook.


Visit www.abc-clio.com for details.
Praeger
An Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC
ABC-CLIO, LLC
130 Cremona Drive, P.O. Box 1911
Santa Barbara, California 93116-1911
This book is printed on acid-free paper
Manufactured in the United States of America

For Rosa and Lucia, my maternal and paternal grandmothers


and for Antoinette, my mother:
Remember, our heritage is our power; we can know ourselves and
our capacities by seeing that other women have been strong.
Judy Chicago

This page intentionally left blank

Contents

Series Introduction

ix

Acknowledgments

xi

Introduction
Michele A. Paludi

xiii

Chapter 1. International Perspectives on Women and Mental


Health
Joy Rice and Nancy Felipe Russo

Chapter 2. Ethnocultural Psychotherapy: Women of Colors


Resilience and Liberation
Lillian Comas-Diaz

25

Chapter 3. Women and Sexual Violence: Emotional, Physical,


Behavioral, and Organizational Responses
Paula Lundberg-Love and Bethany Waits

41

Chapter 4. Cross-Cultural Violence against Women and Girls:


From Dating to Intimate Partner Violence
Janet Sigal and Dorota Wnuk Novitskie

65

Chapter 5. Intimate Partner Violence as a Workplace Concern:


Impact on Womens Emotional and Physical Well-Being
and Careers
Michele A. Paludi, Jessica Wilmot and Lindsey Speach
103
Chapter 6. From Victim to Empowered Survivor: Feminist Therapy
with Survivors of Rape and Sexual Assault
Avigail Moor
139

viii

Contents

Chapter 7. Gender Microaggressions: Implications for Mental


Health
Kevin L. Nadal

155

Chapter 8. Prejudice and Discrimination against Sexual Minorities:


A Brazilian Perspective
Eros DeSouza and Elder Cerqueira-Santos
177
Chapter 9. Frequency Rates and Consequences of Peer Sexual
Harassment: Comparing U.S. and International
Students
Eros DeSouza and Joy Chien

195

Chapter 10. In Womens Voices


Janet Boyce

209

Chapter 11. Bullying and Sexual Harassment of Adolescents


James Gruber and Susan Fineran

211

Chapter 12. Great Is Our Sin: Pseudoscientic Justications for


Oppression in American Education
Jennifer L. Martin

231

Chapter 13. Discrimination, Harassment, and Womens Physical


and Mental Health
Krystle C. Woods and NiCole T. Buchanan

235

Appendix.

Feminist and Womens Rights Organizations


Worldwide
Susan Strauss, Michelle Strand and Michele A. Paludi

253

About the Editor and Contributors

263

Index

271

Series Introduction

Because womens work is never done and is underpaid or unpaid or boring


or repetitious and were the rst to get red and what we look like is more
important than what we do and if we get raped its our fault and if we get
beaten we must have provoked it and if we raise our voices were nagging
bitches and if we enjoy sex were nymphos and if we dont were frigid and
if we love women its because we cant get a real man and if we ask our
doctor too many questions were neurotic and/or pushy and if we expect
childcare were selsh and if we stand up for our rights were aggressive
and unfeminine and if we dont were typical weak females and if we
want to get married were out to trap a man and if we dont were unnatural and because we still cant get an adequate safe contraceptive but men
can walk on the moon and if we cant cope or dont want a pregnancy were
made to feel guilty about abortion and . . . for lots of other reasons we are
part of the womens liberation movement.
Author unknown, quoted in The Torch, September 14, 1987

These sentiments underlie the major goals of the Praeger Perspectives


book series, Womens Psychology. The goals are as follows:
Value women: The books in this series value women by valuing children and working for affordable child care; value women by respecting
all physiques, not just by placing value on slender women; value
women by acknowledging older womens wisdom, beauty, aging; value
women who have been sexually victimized and view them as survivors;
value women who work inside and outside of the home; and value
women by respecting their choices of careers, of whom they mentor, of
their reproductive rights, their spirituality, and their sexuality.
Treat women as the norm. Thus the books in this series make up for
womens issues typically being omitted, trivialized, or dismissed from
other books on psychology.

Series Introduction

Take a non-Eurocentric view of womens experiences. The books in this


series integrate the scholarship on race and ethnicity into womens psychology, thus providing a psychology of all women. Women typically
have been described collectively; but we are diverse.
Facilitate connections between readers experiences and psychological theories and empirical research. The books in this series offer readers opportunities to challenge their views about women, feminism, sexual
victimization, gender role socialization, education, and equal rights.
These texts thus encourage women readers to value themselves and
others. The accounts of womens experiences as reected through
research and personal stories in the texts in this series have been
included for readers to derive strength from the efforts of others who
have worked for social change on the interpersonal, organizational,
and societal levels. A student in one of my courses on the psychology
of women once stated:
I learned so much about women. Women face many issues: discrimination, sexism, prejudices . . . by society. Women need to work together to
change how society views us. I learned so much and talked about much
of the issues brought up in class to my friends and family. My attitudes
have changed toward a lot of things. I got to look at myself, my life, and
what I see for the future. (Paludi, 2002)

It is my hope that readers of the books in this series will also reect
on the topics and look at themselves, their own lives, and what they
see for the future. This three-volume book set on Feminism and Womens Rights Worldwide provides readers with the opportunity to accomplish this goal and offers suggestions for all of us working for
gender justice within our friendships and romantic relationships, in
guiding institutional and social policy change in workplace and educational institutions, and in lobbying state and federal legislators on
issues related to reproductive rights, pay equity, education, sexual violence, and childcare.
Michele A. Paludi
Series Editor
REFERENCE
Paludi, M. (2002). The psychology of women. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ:
Prentice Hall.

Acknowledgments

Teaching and writing are separate, but serve/feed one another in so many
ways. Writing travels the road inward, teaching, the road outhelping
OTHERS move inwardit is an honor to be with others in the spirit of
writing and encouragement.
Naomi Shihab Nye

Nyes sentiment is echoed throughout this three-volume set on feminism and womens rights. Most of the contributors have taught courses
in womens studies and feminism as well as conducted research and
written about feminist issues. Many contributors have been advocates
on behalf of feminist principles through working with local, state and
federal agencies, legislators, and the United Nations. And many of us
have collaborated with students in our classes in writing chapters for
this book set. These students have made us believe that all of them, in
their individual ways, will continue to do what this book set intends:
value feminism and work toward equality. It has been exhilarating for
me to see a new generation of feminists collaborating with mentors
and colleagues on the chapters for this book set.
I have been honored to have collaborated with the contributors to
these volumes. Several friendships with contributors have been
rekindled and strengthened, and I have met many new colleagues from
around the world who taught me about their disciplines through their
writing. You have all shown me the great accomplishments of feminists
as well as the work we have yet to do. Thank you.
I wish to thank my sisters, Rosalie Paludi and Lucille Paludi, for
their support during the preparation of this book set. I also thank Carmen Paludi, Jr. for his guidance and encouragement. Our discussions
about feminism brought back wonderful memories of my mother,

xii

Acknowledgments

Antoinette, and my father, Michael, about whom I continue to learn


and continue to cherish the time I had with them.
I acknowledge several friends who encouraged me during the preparation of this set of books. Thank you to Paula Lundberg Love, Jennifer Martin, Billie Wright Dziech, Darlene C. DeFour, and Florence
Denmark.
I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with students throughout my career, now at Union Graduate College. I have
thoroughly enjoyed learning from them. Thank you to students in the
Human Resource Management Certicate Program and Management
and Leadership Certicate Program. I especially acknowledge Michelle
Strand, Carrie Turco, Haimanot Kelbessa, Sarah Bennett, Sarah Boggess, Kristina Hicks, James Luciano, Sarah Henderson Maneely, Abbey
Massoud-Tastor, Marie Fuda, Jessica Wilmot, Katie Kelly, and Nick Salvatoriello. I am honored you have called me your professor.
I also thank Debbie Carvalko for supporting my visions for books
and helping them become realities. I have enjoyed working with Debbie and her colleagues at Praeger. They are a wonderful team of caring
people. They appreciate my love of writing and editing books. Debbie
somehow knew that, after the publication of the three-volume set on
the Psychology of Women and Work (2008, Praeger), which I edited, and
the political climate of the 2008 presidential campaign, especially
regarding women, I had to follow up those texts with books on feminism. She knows I share Sheila Benders sentiment:
We write because something inside says we must and we can no longer ignore
that voice.

Introduction
Michele A. Paludi
And how do you look backward? By looking forward. And what do you see?
As they look forward, they see what they had to do before they could look
backward. And there we have it all.
Gertrude Stein

Alyssa Zucker and Abigail Stewart (2007) reported in their study of


333 university alumnae that feminism is internalized quite differently
depending on the developmental stage in our lives. This research led
me to consider my own feminist socialization and feminist identity development as I began writing and editing these three volumes on feminism and womens rights. I was introduced to feminism by my
parents, Antoinette and Michael, at a very young age, even though the
label feminism was not used by them. Yet, as I came to realize much
later, their behavior was very much in keeping with feminist principles. They valued my sisters and me unconditionally; wanted to give
us educational opportunities that were denied to them because of the
generation into which they were born and because they were rst generation Americans whose parents had other values to instill in them;
they worked for equality in relationships, politics, and health care. I
was 18 the year individuals became eligible to vote at age 18, and both
my parents took me to cast my votes that year.
They believed that, like them, I had a responsibility to make things
better for the next generation. They valued voting; I was told what the
Suffragists had endured in order to win this right for us and to remember this each year I vote. I took my rst course in feminism as an
undergraduate in the early 1970s: Sex Roles in American Society
with Nancy Walbek. I would share the class discussions with my
mother, telling her about the experiences of students in class that were
different from my ownfor example, being denied the use of certain

xiv

Introduction

toys considered sex inappropriate for them; being tracked into different high school and college programs because of being women or men;
women being told by family and friends to hide their achievements
from potential dates and mates. I was unable to relate to these experiences and realized for the rst time that my parents were feminists, a
term to which I was introduced formally in this class and then subsequently as a graduate student when I took courses with Dee Graham
and Edna Rawlings. I also learned that I had been exposed to nonstereotyped role models, and because there were all girls in our family, we
were not raised to conform to stereotyped behavior.
It was in graduate school that I decided to pursue research in feminist psychology, especially in womens career development. I was fortunate to have a mentor, William Dember, who encouraged me to
pursue this research, even though it was not in his area of specialization (i.e., visual perception). Bill encouraged me to take courses with
faculty in departments in addition to psychology: educational leadership and family development. He told me this would help put pieces
together in understanding the research I was conducting. I thank Kathy
Borman and Judy Frankel for their roles in my feminist identity development.
A few years later when my father died, Charlie, who attended my
fathers wake, came to my mother, my sisters, and me and told us how
my father had impacted his life. Charlie, an African American man,
told us my father was the only coworker (both were skilled workers at
General Electric) who treated him fairly, didnt talk with him in a derogatory manner, and stopped others from making racial slurs and epithets. I learned for another time what it meant to be a feminist.
I dedicated the three-volume set on the Psychology of Women at Work
to my parents: For Antoinette and Michael Paludi, who encouraged
me to dene what womens work is for myself. They wanted all their
daughters to be independent thinkers and doers and to help others.
They gave us no templates to follow but encouraged us to navigate our
own paths. And, especially in my case, encouraged me to leave home
to attend graduate school in a city that seemed, to my parents, to be
very far awaybut they never said no.
My parents thus taught me that not only did they believe in the economic, educational, social, and political equality of women and men, but
they favored the social and legal changes necessary to achieve equality
between the sexes and among races, and they were committed to implementing these principles. Perhaps they could not effect change at the
national level, but they did do so in personal relationships with their
family and friends and on the local level. This is the legacy they left my
sisters and me. This book set is a tribute to Antoinette and Michael.
I have been reminded of Antoinette and Michael throughout the
writing and editing of these volumes on feminism and womens rights.

Introduction

xv

I am especially reminded of what my mother used to tell me: You are


there before you get there. She knew I wanted equality to happen fast
and that I grew concerned when feminists didnt win political elections, when younger women didnt know the heritage of how they
came to be accepted in graduate programs and in certain jobs, how the
glass ceiling for women and people of color is still strong, and that
worldwide, women constitute 64 percent of all adults who are illiterate
(see Susan Basows chapter in Volume 1). I have learned that she was
right; that change takes time, and to measure change differently, i.e., in
increments. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated as she suspended her campaign for president of the United States in 2008:
Although we werent able to shatter this highest, hardest glass ceiling
this time, thanks to you, its got about 18 million cracks in it, and the
light is shining through like never before.
The chapters in these volumes show us where the light is shining
through on feminism. All three volumes represent what Judith Lorber
(1998) and Snelling (1999) identied: several types of feminism and
feminists. Lorber (1998) categorized feminism into three major areas:
gender reform, gender resistance, and gender rebellion. Genderreform feminism emphasizes similarities between women and men
rather than focusing on differences between them. Gender-resistance
feminism holds that formal legal rights alone will not end gender
inequality; male dominance is too ingrained into social relations.
Gender-resistance feminism focuses on how men and women are
differentcognitively, emotionally, and sociallyand urges women
to form women-centered organizations and communities. Genderrebellion feminism looks at the interrelationships among inequalities
of sex, race, ethnicity, social class, and sexual orientation. A number
of years ago my text on the psychology of women displayed a quilt
on its cover (Paludi, 2002). I asked for this design to highlight
Gentrys (1989) image of quilt making for understanding feminism.
These three volumes on feminism and womens rights also represent
quilt making in understanding feminism. Each contributor has made
one piece of the quilt that has been joined with pieces by other contributors. Each of the contributors has used different stitching on their
piece of the quilt. No one chapter is more important than the other.
We need all pieces if we are to complete the quilt that is feminism.
According to Gentry (1989):
Feminist psychology and feminism in general seem to be at the point of
trying to piece together the individual parts of a quilt. The overall pattern of the quilt that we want is still emerging. No one knows what
equality in a post-patriarchal world will look like. We are beginning to
piece the separate parts togetherto explore the kinds of stitching to use
in connecting the pieces and how to place the separate pieces into the

xvi

Introduction
pattern. But we have not stopped questioning the process of quilting
itself.

In Volume 1, Heritage, Roles, and Issues, contributors have discussed


efforts to integrate feminist scholarship into several disciplines, including education, work, science, military, religion, and politics. As Catherine Stimpson (1971) noted, there have been three kinds of problems in
the disciplines and curriculum with respect to women: omission, distortions, and trivializations. Each of the contributors to Volume 1 notes
where the sexism in the disciplines has existed and where feminist correctives have restructured the disciplines. Jennifer Martin, in her chapter concerning gender differences in abilities, noted:
Women have made signicant social, academic, and occupational gains
in the past 50 years; for example, women are entering nontraditional
elds with more frequency, participating in high school and college
sports more than ever before, and carving out more egalitarian roles for
themselves within the family. However, women have still not ultimately
achieved true equity with their male counterparts. . . . The idea that
women somehow possess different or inferior aptitudes when compared
to their male counterparts can lead to diminished expectations for
womenin terms of how they view themselves and how others view
them.

In Volume 2, Mental and Physical Health, contributors deal with violence and discrimination against girls and women and the resulting
impact on womens emotional and physical well being, interpersonal
relationships, career development, and self-concept. Types of discrimination and victimization addressed are sexual harassment, sexual violence, harassment of sexual minorities, and rape and violence in the
context of womens HIV risk. Contributors have addressed these issues
globally. Bethany Waits and Paula Lundberg-Love offer new cutting
edge evidence on neurological responses in women victims of sexual
violence. Therapeutic support for women victims of violence is also
addressed in this volume, including feminist therapy and ethnocultural
psychotherapy.
All contributors note that sexual victimization is prevalent in the
United States and globally, as is sexual harassment and sexual orientation discrimination. As Waits and Lundberg-Love note:
Female survivors of sexual violence are everywhere. They are in universities, religious institutions, court rooms, hospitals, and the military. They
are daughters, mothers, spouses, sisters, friends, next-door neighbors,
and co-workers. Many differ in age, education, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. . . . However, their lives are connected by the violence that
they have experienced.

Introduction

xvii

The international focus on feminism and womens rights is continued in Volume 3, Feminism as Human Rights. In this volume, contributors address laws on sexual harassment, pay equity, and rape.
Furthermore, contributors speak to the injustices to women with disabilities. Human rights issues such as arranged and forced marriage
for women, pornography, and the globalization of western appearance
ideals are also presented in this volume. All contributors to this volume call for further advocacy on behalf of women. As Noorfarah Merali stated:
It is only if arranged marriages are understood in light of their intentions, diverse forms, actual outcomes, and local or international contexts
that laws, policies, and human rights advocacy can be appropriately
channeled to protect and preserve womens well-being.

In addition to the scholarly reviews of research on feminism and


womens rights, I have included womens personal accounts of their
own feminist identity development. They are at different stages in life,
in their career, and in relationships and yet they are bound by shared
stories.
It is my hope that these volumes encourage individuals to self identify as feminists. Research has suggested for some time that most people reject the term feminist when describing themselves but support
feminist principlesequal pay for equal work, for example (see Paludi
et al., Volume 3). Goldners (1994) study noted that when women who
hold feminist beliefs anticipate a negative reaction from their peers to
the label feminist, they will avoid using the term to describe themselves. Goldner indicated that media is a primary source of negative
images of feminists. It is common to see photos of women identied as
feminists having clenched sts. These images are not representative of
feminists. More recent research by Rudman and Fairchild (2007) found
that the stereotype that feminists are unattractive still persists.
However, these images are rejected by individuals, especially during
adolescence and young adulthood, when maintaining gender role stereotypic behavior is reinforced and is central to their self-esteem and
self-concept. Paludi, Paludi, and DeFour (2004) noted that individuals
reject the label feminist because they view themselves as in control, as
powerful rather than as victims of gender inequality. Thus, they perceive the term feminist to imply a powerless position, which they
reject (Rhode, 1977).
The contributors to each of the three volumes of Feminism and Womens Rights Worldwide encourage us to think critically about feminism,
to value cultural experiences and to integrate our knowledge of theories and research about feminism with our own life experiences. The
chapters encouraged me to do this in remembering my own feminist

xviii

Introduction

socialization. I encourage you to do the same. It is my hope these three


volumes serve as a life raft (Klonis, Endo, Crosby, and Worell, 1997)
for feminists, especially those in the millennial generation.
REFERENCES
Gentry, M. (1989). Introduction: Feminist perspectives on gender and thought:
Paradox and potential. In M. Crawford & M. Gentry (Eds.), Gender and
thought. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Goldner, M. (1994). Accounting for race and class variation in the disjuncture
between feminist identity and feminist beliefs: The place of negative
labels and social movements. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of
the American Sociological Association, Los Angeles.
Klonis, S., Endo, J., Crosby, F., & Worell, J. (1997). Feminism as life raft. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 333345.
Lorber, J. (1998). Gender inequality: Feminist theories and politics. Los Angeles:
Roxbury.
Paludi, M. (2002). The psychology of women. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ:
Prentice Hall.
Paludi, M., ed. (2008). The psychology of women at work: Challenges and solutions
for our female workforce. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Paludi, M., Paludi, C., & DeFour, D. (2004). Introduction: The more things
change, the more they stay the same. In M. Paludi (Ed.), Praeger guide to
the psychology of gender. xixxxi. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Rhode, D. (1997). Speaking of sex. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Rudman, L., & Fairchild, K. (2007). The F word: Is feminism incompatible with
beauty and romance? Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31, 125136.
Snelling, S. (1999). Womens perspectives on feminism. Psychology of Women
Quarterly, 23, 247266.
Stimpson, C. (1971). Thy neighbors wife, thy neighbors servants: Womens liberation and black civil rights. In V. Gornick & B. Moran (Eds.), Woman in
sexist society: Studies in power and powerlessness. New York: Basic Books.
Zucker, A., & Stewart, A. (2007). Growing up and growing older: Feminism as
a context for womens lives. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31, 137145.

Chapter 1

International Perspectives on
Women and Mental Health
Joy Rice
Nancy Felipe Russo

Women have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. The enjoyment of this right is vital to
their life and well-being and their ability to participate in all areas of
public and private life. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and
social well-being and . . . is determined by the social, political and economic context of [womens] lives, as well as by biology. (Platform for
action: Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing China, Chapter IV.
C.89, United Nations)

These words, contained in the national platform for action of the


United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, provide a holistic vision of womens health, one in which physical and mental health
are inextricably intertwined and rooted in womens social, political,
and economic conditions. Understanding the links between womens
social roles and circumstances and negative mental health outcomes
thus becomes a key element in any global health agenda for women
(Koblinsky, Timyan, & Gay, 1992).
Although this holistic view of womens health has been resisted by the
biomedical establishment that dominates health care in the United States,
it is congruent with how health has been perceived globally. Indeed, for
more than three decades, the World Health Organization (WHO) has
emphasized a social model of health that has stressed the role of complex
reciprocal relationships among psychological, behavioral, social, and

Mental and Physical Health

economic factors in determining health and illness based on this holistic


denition:
Mental health is the capacity of the individual, the group, and the environment to interact with one another in ways that promote subjective
well-being, the optimal development and use of mental abilities (cognitive, affective, and relational), the achievement of the individual and collective goals consistent with justice and the attainment and preservation
of fundamental equality. (Cabral & Astbury, 2000, p. 12)

In sum, womens mental health is not simply the absence of disease,


and it is inseparable from a persons health well-being. A womans
mental health enables her to nd meaning in her life, function effectively in her social context, adapt to change, respond to crises, establish
rewarding relationships in her community, and modify her environments to meet her needs.
One outcome of the worldwide feminist movement stimulated by
the Beijing Conference was an International Consensus Statement on
Womens Mental Health that was passed by the World Psychiatric
Association (WPA) and signed by 140 WPA member associations, the
World Federation of Mental Health, and other mental health organizations, including the American Psychological Association (APA) and the
American Psychiatric Association. That statement emphasized that prioritizing womens mental health was essential for the achievement of
the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations (UN, 2000;
http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/), which include the achievement of universal primary education, promotion of gender equality,
reduction of child mortality, improving maternal health, and combating
human immunodeciency virus/acquired immune deciency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), among others. It also emphasized the importance
of considering the contexts of womens lives as determinants of their
mental health (Stewart, 2006).
A similar holistic biopsychosocial vision of mental health has been
promulgated in feminist psychologists in the United States and around
the world (Russo, in press; Sar & Hill, 2008; Wyche & Rice, 1997).
International issues and perspectives were important dimensions in the
feminist movement in psychology from its beginnings. Indeed, the
Association for Women in Psychology, established in the United States
in 1969 as the rst explicitly feminist organization in the eld, was designated an ofcial nongovernmental organization (NGO) for the UN in
1976 (for a more detailed history of international issues in feminist psychology, see Sar & Hill, 2008).
Today, feminist psychology in the United States is both informed by
and is a contributor to the international womens movement. The eld
has become explicitly multicultural, emphasizing the importance of

International Perspectives on Women and Mental Health

viewing mental health in its social/political context and examining


power inequities and inequalities that undermine mental health in the
lives of diverse women (Enns & Byars-Winston, 2009; Goodwin &
Fiske, 2001; Russo, in press).
Consequently, feminist therapy is now conceptualized as having a
multicultural biopsychosocial approach, one that encompasses meaningmaking and spiritual concerns, considers a woman in her social context, and has her empowerment as a therapeutic goal (Brown, 2008a;
Enns & Byars-Winston, 2009; McKay, Hill, Freedman, & Enright, 2007;
Worell & Johnson, 2001; Wyche & Rice, 1997). This perspective is
reected in the development of international practice guidelines for
counseling and therapy with girls and women described later.
WOMENS MENTAL HEALTH IN A CONTEXT
OF INEQUALITY AND OPPRESSION
The international womens movement has emphasized that around
the world, stigma, devaluation, and inequalities in power associated
with womens social roles and circumstances create conditions that
undermine womens mental health (Cabral & Astbury, 2000; Russo, in
press; Stewart et al., 2001). These conditions include povertywomen
are 70 percent of the poor around the world and earn signicantly less
than men (WHO, 2002). Related conditions include hunger, malnutrition, fatigue from overwork (with womens low-paid work often under
dangerous conditions), prejudice and discrimination, inadequate educational and economic resources, gender-based violence (including sexual
abuse, partner violence, and sexual trafcking), and social disruption
leading to displaced populations (including migration due to insufcient economic opportunity, social conict and war, and natural disaster) (Cabral & Astbury, 2000; Demyttenaere et al., 2004; Desjarlais et al.,
1995; WHO, 2000, 2002).
The mental health dimensions of sexual and reproductive health
have received increasing attention, partially because of the intersections
of unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (STIs;
including HIV), and gender-based violence, which are all known to
have a negative impact on mental health (Hamilton & Russo, 2006). In
addition, the high rates of pregnancy-associated depression among
women in developing countries compared to women in industrialized
countries (2040 percent vs. 1015 percent) are of concern (WHO,
2009). Mental health problems may be associated with lack of choice in
sexual and reproductive decisions, STIs, infertility, unintended and
unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, miscarriage, and childbirth
(including premature birth), among other things (WHO, 2009; see
Chrisler, this volume, for more discussion of womens reproductive
rights).

Mental and Physical Health

The critical role of lack of power and having a disadvantaged social


status is manifested by the link between rates of depressive symptoms
with indicators of gender inequality that has been around the world
(Arrindell, Steptoe, & Wardle, 2003), and by regions (urban vs. rural)
within nations, and between states within the United States (Chen,
Subramanian, Acevedo-Garcia, & Kawachi, 2005). Womens higher
rates of depressive disorders compared to men, the consistency of this
gender gap across diverse groups and cross-nationally, and research
linking depression to hopelessness (a reection of powerlessness) and
low self-esteem (a reection of devaluation) has made theorizing the
relation of gender to depression of particular interest to feminist psychologists (Hamilton & Russo, 2006; Jackson & Williams, 2006). Consequently, we will consider womens depression in more detail below.
Women have unequal access to gender-sensitive basic health and
mental health services around the world (WHO, 2002). Furthermore,
service delivery may be affected by bias and stereotyping of providers
such that when services are available, they are inadequate or inappropriate. Given that the development and expression of mental disorder
differs for women and men, the need for gender-sensitive approaches
to diagnosis, treatment, and prevention is severe. Developing such
services will require understanding and investigating gender as a sociocultural construct (Russo & Tartaro, 2008).
GENDER IN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
A shift in focus from the individuals characteristics and behaviors
to a gendered sociocultural view of mental health requires a more complex understanding of gender as a cultural construct. This new understanding is a necessary foundation for developing a coherent theory
of how inequality becomes translated into mental health disparities.
Gender can be conceptualized as a cultural package of many interconnected factors, including gendered emotions, identities, values, expectations, norms, roles, scripts, discourse, environments, and institutions.
These factors can inuence mental health and well-being separately, as
well as in combination (Russo, in press).
Gender denes what is considered normal and appropriate behavioral, psychological, and social characteristics for males and females and
shapes their personal and social identities. What is considered normal
varies over the life cycle, over time, and across cultures. Violations of
stereotypes and gender role expectations may lead to stigmatization,
marginalization, and discrimination, with implications for mental health
(Hamilton & Russo, 2006). When roles assigned by gender have lower
power and status, structured inequalities are created that can translate
into health disparitiesin mental health status as well as service delivery (Russo, in press; Russo & Landrine, 2009; Russo & Tartaro, 2008).

International Perspectives on Women and Mental Health

Gender operates at psychological, social, and situational levels. For


example, the relations of gender and race to mental health are
affected by perceived sexism and racism (Moradi & DeBlaere, 2009;
Moradi & Subich, 2003; Thomas, Witherspoon, & Speight, 2008); the
relationship of sexual orientation to mental health is affected by
stigma and victimization associated with homosexuality (Balsam,
Rothblum, & Beauchaine, 2005; Tjaden, Thoennes, & Allison, 1999;
Herek & Garnets, 2007).
Gender intersects with other social identities that may or may not be
stigmatized or associated with disadvantage, including identities based
on age, ethnicity, sexuality, physical disability, tribe, religion, nationality, immigrant status, occupational status, class, and caste status. There
is an urgent need for work that theorizes and investigates how complex and interacting dimensions of social difference deemed important
in a particular cultural context affect womens lived experiences in
ways that have implications for womens mental health (Brown, Riepe,
& Coffey, 2005; McCall, 2005; Russo & Vaz, 2001). More complexity in
theorizing will require overcoming epistemological, methodological,
and statistical challenges, however (Landrine & Corral, in press).
In particular, measurement equivalence issues will need to be
addressed, as the equivalence of measures may vary by gender and
culture, and measures that are equivalent across cultures for men may
not be equivalent for women (Chen & West, 2007). Such issues pose
construct validity problems in measuring sexist beliefs and attitudes
beliefs that maintain or foster gender inequalitiescross-nationally (for
a review of the literatures and measurement issues related to the
endorsement, expression, and emergence of sexism cross-nationally,
see Swim, Becker, & Lee, 2009).
In summary, advancing understanding of genders relation to mental health internationally will require investigating a complex interplay
among biological, psychological, social, cultural, and contextual factors,
including multiple personal and social identities, social locations and
conditions, and coping strategies and resources (Russo, in press; Russo
& Tartaro, 2008; Szymanski & Kashubeck-West, 2008). In considering
gender-related factors that can affect diverse womens mental health
internationally, we must also keep in mind that women will vary in
their response to such factors, and that variance in womens responses
will both reect their position in the social structure, as well as how
they integrate or engage their multiple social identities, some of which
may be specic to a particular context or culture.
WOMENS MENTAL DISORDER: THE GLOBAL BURDEN
The priority of mental health issues globally has risen as the enormous impact of mental disorders on what has been conceptualized as

Mental and Physical Health

the global burden of disease. A recent WHO (2008) report provides


a comprehensive picture of the global and regional state of the physical
and mental health of the worlds peoples. Based on extensive country
governmental data from 112 member states, it provides projections of
deaths and the global burden of disease to the year 2030 and is an
update of WHO research rst conducted in 1990. The study nds that
mental disorders are among the leading causes of disability in all
regions of the word. They account for approximately one-third of years
lost due to disability among people older than fourteen. Four out of 10
diseases with the highest burden are psychiatric disorders (Kastrup,
2007).
Violence and self-inicted injury, which are also among the leading
contributors to the disease burden, have profound implications for
womens mental health as well (Cabral & Astbury, 2000). Analyses of
data gathered from 15 sites in 10 countries participating in the WHO
multi-country study on womens health and domestic violence against
women found a strong link between gender-based violence and negative health and mental health outcomes, including higher levels of
emotional distress, risk of suicide ideation, and suicide attempts found
across all sites (Ellsberg et al., 2008).
Although males and females are generally similar in overall rates of
mental disorder around the world, the patterns and symptoms of mental disorders differ for men and men over the life cycle (Kessler, 2006;
Kessler, Chiu, Demler, & Walters, 2005; Piccinelli & Homen, 1997; Silverman & Carter, 2006). For example, in the United States, based on
the National Co-morbidity Survey, Kessler et al. (2005) identied gender differences in six classes or patterns of disorder. Here presented by
level of severity, they included the following: (1) unaffected respondents (more likely to be male); (2) pure internalizing disorders (more
likely to be female); (3) pure externalizing disorders (more likely to be
male); (4) comorbid internalizing disorders (more likely to be female);
(5) comorbid internalizing and/or externalizing disorders dominated
by comorbid social phobia and attention-decit/hyperactivity disorder
(more likely to be male); and (6) highly comorbid major depressive episodes (more likely to be female). No gender difference was found in a
seventh class, highly comorbid bipolar disorder. High comorbidity was
associated with severityclasses with the highest comorbidity (4, 6, 7)
included about 7 percent of the sample, but represented 43.6 percent of
the serious cases.
Comorbidity of mental disorders signals greater severity of illness
and disability and higher utilization of services. Women have higher
rates of lifetime and 12-month comorbidity of three or more disorders
(WHO, 2002). It has long been known that anxiety is comorbid with
depression, particularly for women (Breslau et al., 1995), and that
women have higher rates of mood and anxiety disorders (Piccinelli &

International Perspectives on Women and Mental Health

Homen, 1997; Silverman & Carter, 2006). Symptoms of anxiety disorders are correlated with other disorders, complicating diagnosis. In
particular, research is needed that claries the origins and relationships
among symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders, which constitute
the largest contributor to the gender gap in internalizing disorders.
Countrywide studies may mask within-country variations in rates of
mental disorder. Women are more likely to be poor, and surveys in
Brazil, Chile, India, and Zimbabwe have found that rates of common
mental disorders (anxiety and depression) are higher among the poor
(Patel, Araya, Ludermir, & Todd, 1999). Furthermore, in poorer areas,
treatment may be more likely to be inadequate or nonexistent. In the
United States, rates and predictors of mental disorder vary substantially within subpopulations. For example, a national survey of Latinos
and Asian Americans (Alegria et al., 2007), revealed that among the
four Latina subethnic groups studied, Mexican heritage women were
less likely than Puerto Rican women to have a depressive disorder,
and Puerto Rican women had the highest overall lifetime and past-year
prevalence rates compared to other women.
It is important to go beyond a focus on rates and learn more about
how elements of gender affect the development, course, and context of
mental disorders among women internationally. In particular, more
needs to be known about how gender affects comobidity of mental disorder over the life cycle. For example, depression and anxiety are more
likely to be found together for women, whereas depression and substance abuse are more likely to be paired for men. The extent to which
this difference reects a gender difference in pathways to depression
versus diagnostic bias requires investigation.
Research on the patterns of being depressed found in womens daily
experiences suggests that women may be more likely to experience
short-term depressive episodes than men, possibly reecting their dayto-day experience with life stressors (Kessler, 2006).
WOMEN AND DEPRESSION: A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
Depression is identied in the WHO report as the leading global
cause of years of health lost to disease for both men and women, with
unipolar depression as the eighth leading cause of loss of health in
low-income countries and the primary cause of loss of health in middleand high-income countries. Depression affects around 120 million
people worldwide, and the number is projected to increase. Fewer
than 25 percent of those affected have access to adequate treatment
and health care.
For purposes of this discussion, the outstanding fact is that compared with men, the worldwide rate of depression in women globally
is 50 percent higher, and gender is perceived to be the critical

Mental and Physical Health

determinant and strongest correlate of risk for different categorized


types of depression (WHO, 2001). The biomedical evidence across
nations, cultures, and ethnicities widely documents that women are
one to three times more likely than men to develop depression and
anxiety disorders (Ustun, 2000), but there is great variation in the estimated total population prevalence across studies (Kessler, 2006).
Although there is marked variation in the rates of depression for
women in different countries, much higher rates have been found in
women attending primary health care centers in developing countries.
In Indian clinics, for example, it is estimated that between 25 to 33 percent of women patients are suffering from depression (Worley, 2006).
Despite three decades of research on gender identities and a wide
range of identied risk factors, no particular cause or interrelated set of
causes can fully explain the signicant global phenomenon of gender
differences in depression (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2001). Speculation continues in the literature about biological correlates for increased incidence
of depression for women. Major depression clusters in families and
depression in a rst-degree relative is a risk factor for depression.
While some studies nd similar levels of heritability of depression for
women and men, several others have found higher genetic loadings for
females, suggesting that the impact of some genes for risk for major
depression differs in women and men (Kendler, Gardner, Neale, &
Prescott, 2001).
The unique biology of women may in part explain their greater propensity to depression beginning in adolescence and early puberty, and
sex hormones are likely to play a role (Ge, Conger, & Elder, 1996;
Zahn-Waxler, Race, & Duggal, 2004). Depression associated with postpartum and menopausal periods is being studied in relation to hormonal factors and interactions between hormones, neurotransmitters, and
other biological systems (Mazure, Kieta, & Blehar, 2002). Women are
also more likely than men to be prescribed mood-altering psychotropic
medication and electro-convulsive therapy for depression, even where
the evidence suggests that the main conditions surrounding their diagnosis have strong social origins (Buseld, 1996).
Several psychological and environmental risk factors and social
causes of depression for women have been identied (Bertram, 2003;
Paltiel, 1993; Zahn-Waxler et al., 2004). They include the inequitable
gendered division of labor and family responsibility, womens lesser
social status and gender socialization, and the effects of poverty, abuse,
and violence. Hamilton and Russo (2006) also review research that
links unwanted pregnancy, sexualized objectication, and stigma as
contributors to the gender gap in depression. Add to these etiological
factors the astounding fact that women and children represent an estimated 80 percent of 50 million people affected by violent conicts, civil
wards, disasters, and displacement (WHO, 2006).

International Perspectives on Women and Mental Health

Paltiel concludes that the key depression risk factors for women
globally are simply that everywhere women are overworked, overlooked and undervalued, and that poverty, discrimination, violence
and powerlessness are pervasive features of womens lives (p. 197). In
many developed countries, women are often poorly paid for dangerous, labor-intensive jobs, and are undernourished as well (Lopez &
Guarnaccia, 2005). The so-called feminization of poverty is also a
worldwide phenomenon as our family structures and models change,
with an increasingly preponderance of single-parent mother families
worldwide (Rice, 2001). Clearly, it is essential to recognize how genetic,
biological, social, and psychological factors all contribute to the high
incidence of depression women worldwide, and guidelines for treatment need to be based on a biopsychosocial model of assessment,
research, practice, and policy.
Screening and access to treatment for depression is also a very signicant concern. Even in a developed, wealthy country like the United
States, only 24 percent of women who suffer from depression receive
treatment, with even lower rates for African American women (16 percent) and Hispanic women (20 percent) (U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services, 2000). Health care providers in developing countries identify less than one-half of women with depression in those
countries (WHO, 2002). A number of overwhelming challenges occur
in countries with low-resource settings including the lack of facilities,
trained mental health personnel, effective population-based screening,
and the prevalence of high cultural stigma (Worley, 2006). Communication between health workers and women patients can be extremely
authoritarian in many countries where women are still primarily
viewed as inferior with low social and economic status and often stigmatized for showing negative or depressed emotion. Furthermore,
when women dare to reveal mental health concerns, health workers
may reect these stereotyped gender biases, which leads them to either
overtreat or undertreat women (WHO, 1996).

PSYCHOLOGICAL PRACTICE GUIDELINES


FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS
International Implications and Issues
As noted in the previous section, across the world women are challenged by signicant mental health risks. These risks are associated
with a multitude of pernicious outcomes and implications, including
depression and suicide risk, anxiety disorders, and reproductive health
issues, as well as physiological and psychosomatic problems. In light
of these facts, psychotherapy and other forms of psychological intervention such as early screening and risk assessment are very important

10

Mental and Physical Health

treatment strategies for prevention and treatment of womens mental


health problems. The development of guidelines for psychological
practice for women and girls that addresses their special mental health
needs and issues and is founded on a feminist perspective of gender
equity and cultural sensitivity is an area of burgeoning concern not
only in the Western world, but globally (Ballou, Hill, & West, 2008;
Ballou & West, 2000; Comas-Diaz & Greene, 1994: Enns, 2008, 2009;
Hays, 2001).
This section will address three areas related to guidelines for practice. First, some background will be presented on the APAs Resolution
on Cultural and Gender Implications in International Psychology. This
resolution passed in 2004 (Rice & Ballou, 2002) formed the theoretical
foundation for the actual gender practice guidelines adopted in 2006
(APA, 2007). Then, the key elements in both the American and Canadian Psychological Association guidelines (CPA, 2007) will be examined with a view to how they could apply to more international and
diverse cultural perspectives cross-nationally. Finally, a summary of
some key issues that seem important in the development of feminist
guidelines for psychological practice with women and girls in any
country of the world will be presented.
Cultural and Gender Awareness in the Practice of
International Psychology
The second author of this chapter became more actively involved in
international psychology leadership by founding and serving as the
rst chair of the International Committee for Women, a very active
standing committee of the APA Division of International Psychology.
One of the rst successful projects launched by the committee took several years to complete and involved the participation of women from
many countries and organizations in drafting and passing an APA
Resolution on Cultural and Gender Awareness in International Psychology. This activity embraced the collaboration and help from many
women psychologists from other countries who were interested in feminist issues from an international perspective, and it also led to advocacy work about these issues in the association.
The goal of the resolution was to encourage and facilitate awareness
and reective consideration for psychology and psychologists engaged
in international projects, research, teaching, and practice. Underpinning
the core concepts of the resolution was the understanding that feminist,
multicultural, and critical theory, among other postmodern perspectives, had raised fundamental concerns about the values and assumptions long held in the dominant paradigm of conventional psychology
(Fox & Prilleltensky, 1997; Kitzinger, 1991; Martin-Baro, 1994; Unger,
1995). The mutual and collaborative model called for in the resolution
is important to world psychology because it offers guidance in

International Perspectives on Women and Mental Health

11

postmodern perspectives in theory, research, and practice and strong


models of psychological practice grounded in social justice. It also
assumes that psychology based on Western values could benet signicantly from the expansion of its knowledge base through an international lens that includes diverse multicultural and cross-national
perspectives. The resolution encourages psychologists to commit to ve
principles that help us understand and overcome oppressive attitudes
and practices in dominant psychology transported internationally:
1. Understanding the experiences of individuals in diverse cultures and contexts.
This rst principle is grounded in the others experience. It urges us to
understanding the experience of the other, which is embedded in multiple contexts and diverse social structures. Understanding and sincerely
appreciating the experience of the other person also implies that we validate the others worldview, their ways of knowing and their authority
for valid information and meaning (Ballou; 1996; Flowers & Richardson,
1996). One example for psychological practice with women, among the
many, might be in the realm of values. In North America, productivity
and autonomy are held as strong virtues, and many of our theoretical
constructs and normative standards are based on the value of independent thinking and action. The principle of valuing others experiences is
both obvious and subtle in its many applications. At its most basic application, how we dene the psychological problem, diagnose the problem,
and select the intervention must be based squarely in the experience of
the other.
2. Respect for pluralism based on differences. The second and closely related
principle is respect for pluralism. Respect for pluralism takes one beyond
recognizing diversity to valuing diversity. As one example, feminist
research on women in other disciplines and countries often employs ethnographic and narrative methodology as a legitimate and important way
to document and validate the actual voices and direct experiences of
women and minorities (Alcoff & Potter, 1993; Lazarus and Lykes, 2005;
Naidoo, 2005). However, in psychology these efforts may still not be seen
as valid or meeting the scientic test of traditional empirical investigation
of best practices (Riger, 1992, 2000).
3. Awareness and analysis of power. This principle points out how critical it is
to understand and become aware of power differentials and to analyze
power asymmetries and hierarchies of power as they operate in relationships, institutions, and systems (Ballou & West, 2000; Enriquez, 1992). As
an example in psychotherapy, interpersonal relationships between therapist and client are guided by this principle of reducing power asymmetries between practitioner and client. While each has different levels of
power and status, both members are involved in a reciprocal learning
process in which each can make valuable contributions to the other. This
is particularly true when the each person in the therapeutic dyad comes
from a different cultural perspective (Wyche & Rice, 1997).
4. Critical analysis of Western perspectives. The normative values and denitions employed in traditional Western psychology have been critiqued

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extensively. These analyses are revealing of the cultural, historical, economic, and political agendas and perspectives embedded within the
theory and practice of psychotherapy, particularly in relation to the treatment of women and minorities (Brown, 1994; Fox & Prilleltensky, 1997;
Kitzinger, 1991; Rosenblum & Travis, 1996; Radway, 1998).
5. Interdisciplinary socialcultural perspective. This principle calls for an
awareness of the signicant impact of external and structural forces on
individuals. Such factors, for example, as poverty, violence, and war, and
the effects of the law, church, family, education, and the workplace,
result in multiple and complex forms of privilege and/or oppression
(Rice, 2001, 2007). A feminist perspective calls for an analysis of social
location and an interdisciplinary view that recognizes how anthropological, historical, and religious factors inuence and interact with ones ethnicity, class, gender, and culture (Landrine, 1995). In psychological
practice, the psychologist sometimes encounters contradictions of valuing
culture and actual cultural practices, for sometimes the cultural practices
are oppressive to women as in inequitable marital, divorce, and reproductive rights, violence, abuse, and economic dominance (Rice, 2005).

APA and CPA Guidelines for Psychological


Practice with Women and Girls
The previous ve principles formed a foundation for the succeeding
work of 35 feminist psychologists who over several years of collaboration drafted guidelines for psychological practice with girls and
women. The chairs of the task force, Roberta Nutt, Joy Rice, and Carolyn
Enns, took the guidelines through the long and extensive process of
revisions and updates required by the various APA governance bodies,
council, and membership. Adopted in 2006, these 11 guidelines were
based on the need to articulate a model for psychotherapeutic practice
that was both gender- and culturally sensitive and that employed concepts of empowerment and an understanding and appreciation of the
standpoints, world views and culture specic practices of women and
men as well (APA, 2007). The 11 guidelines are organized into three
sections: (1) diversity, social context, and power; (2) professional
responsibility; and (3) practice applications.

DIVERSITY, SOCIAL CONTEXT, AND POWER


Guideline 1: Psychologists strive to be aware of the effects of socialization,
stereotyping, and unique life events on the development of girls and
women across diverse cultural groups.
Guideline 2: Psychologists are encouraged to recognize and utilize information about oppression, privilege, and identity development as they may
affect girls and women.

International Perspectives on Women and Mental Health

13

Guideline 3: Psychologists strive to understand the impact of bias and discrimination upon the physical and mental health of those with whom they
work.

Professional Responsibility
Guideline 4: Psychologists strive to use gender and culturally sensitive,
afrming practices in providing services to girls and women.
Guideline 5: Psychologists are encouraged to recognize how their socialization, attitudes, and knowledge about gender may affect their practice with
girls and women.

Practice Applications
Guideline 6: Psychologists are encouraged to employ interventions and
approaches that have been found to be effective in the treatment of issues
of concern to girls and women.
Guideline 7: Psychologists strive to foster therapeutic relationships and
practices that promote initiative, empowerment, and expanded alternatives
and choices for girls and women.
Guideline 8: Psychologists strive to provide appropriate, unbiased assessments and diagnoses in their work with women and girls
Guideline 9: Psychologists strive to consider the problems of girls and
women in their sociopolitical context.
Guideline 10: Psychologists strive to acquaint themselves with and utilize relevant mental health, education, and community resources for girls and women.
Guideline 11: Psychologists are encouraged to understand and work to
change institutional and systemic bias that may impact girls and women.

Almost concurrently, in 2007, the CPA passed Guidelines for Ethical Psychological Practice with Women that articulates four guiding
principles:
1. Respect for the dignity of persons. This principle urges that psychologist
ensure that they do not engage in or support any gender-based discrimination and/or oppression, recognizing that there may be situations
where women clients face multiple discriminations and oppressions.
2. Responsible caring. The main point of this principle is that psychologists
strive to understand how womens lives are shaped by the interaction of
gender with other modalities like culture, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, and that is important for the practitioner to understand how the
multiple social contexts of their own life might inuence or interfere with
their attempts to help and not harm women clients.
3. Integrity in relationships. Psychologists are open, honest, and accurate in
their communications and recognize, monitor, and manage potential
biases, multiples relationships, or other conicts of interest that could

14

Mental and Physical Health


lead to the exploitation of the client and the diminishment of trust. Psychologists honestly acknowledge differences in beliefs and values with
their women clients and work collaboratively to resolve those differences
in the best interest of the woman.
4. Responsibility to society. Psychologists acknowledge that they have responsibilities to the societies in which they live and work and their concern
for the welfare of all human beings includes concern for the welfare of
women in society. They accept responsibility to do what they can to
change societal laws and structures that discriminate or lead to oppressions of women.

The underlying concepts and principles in the APA and CPA guidelines are similar, but the CPA principles are more general in their articulation and do not, for example, discuss specic practices of promoting
empowerment and expanded alternatives for women; using unbiased
assessments, diagnoses, and materials; and employing specic interventions that have been found to be helpful and effective with women
clients. Their thrust is closer to the underlying ethical principles for the
APA Resolution on Gender and Cultural Awareness in International
Psychology. The CPA guidelines, unlike those of the APA, do not provide a developmental perspective applying to younger girls.

FEMINIST PSYCHOTHERAPY IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT


Upon the completion of these guidelines, it was quickly realized that
there was a need to address and consider the potential implications,
applications, and modications of such feminist practice guidelines for
use internationally and cross-nationally. As a starting point, Enns and
her colleagues began a working group at the 2008 International Counseling Psychology Conference in Chicago, and their discussion provides some potential implications and modications of the APA
guidelines for use in international contexts. The major aim of the task
force was to generate a critical analysis of Western feminist psychotherapeutic practice and to consider some of the features of such practice
globally (Enns, 2008). APA Guideline 5 and CPA Principle 2 which
state how understanding how ones own socialization shapes ones
therapeutic perspectives and practices formed a basis for the dialogue.
Certainly, developing practice guidelines that would be applicable
internationally is a daunting endeavor. There are enormous challenges
to developing a holistic and inclusive focus to womens diverse realities across the world and their complex multiple interacting social
identities and oppressions. Nonetheless, an important beginning has
been made in articulating some of the ways in which Western models
of psychotherapy, including feminist models of treatment for women,
are ethnocentric or otherwise narrow in their geo-political-social focus.

International Perspectives on Women and Mental Health

15

Three important themes can be seen to have emerged from the work
of this beginning task force. The rst concerns our concepts of empowerment and the language of empowerment. Such concepts are often
framed in individualist terms from a Western point of view. By way of
contrast, for example, many Japanese women, both feminist and nonfeminists, dene meaningful constructs of interdependence and fulllment that are consistent with the values of a more collective society. It is
suggested that terms such as resourcefulness are likely to be less ethnocentric and more useful and meaningful in the treatment of mental
health problems for women in other cross-national contexts (Enns, 2008).
Second, the goals and strategies of psychotherapy for women need
to be framed in culturally sensitive terms. For example, although we as
Western therapists and feminists tend to see and promote gender role
differentiation as negative and as a barrier to achieving equity and a
positive sense of self, many Muslim and Asian women have worked
toward preserving and honoring difference, especially in the realm of
family and personal relations (Enns, 2008; Pharaon, 2001).
Another guiding theme identied in modifying the Western guidelines for psychological practice for women and girls was the consideration that Western society is extremely goal directed. This is also
reected in the way in which we practice psychotherapy with the goal
of being assertive or achieving a certain job or status. For women from
other cultures, the goal orientation of such a therapeutic approach may
not resonate; for example, a Japanese woman whose personality values
a role-oriented approach to life and who experiences a sense of satisfaction from fullling and honoring that lifetime role, such as nurturing family and children to the subordination of self (Enns, 2003). Thus,
the alleviation of depression associated with that role may be not to
attempt to separate the women from the role or to divorce or to separate, but to help her feel and integrate the honor her culture assigns to
that role.
Several of the Western guidelines are broad enough to apply to
many various contexts and to diverse mental health problems of
women across the world, but they would need culture-specic language, applications, interventions, and examples. In terms of language
and translation of the guidelines, the particular meanings of words and
connotations of concepts embedded in individualistic perspectives may
vary from country to country and culture to culture, necessitating consideration of cultural relevance (Enns, 2008). Every therapeutic encounter is embedded in a multi-lingual context, and both therapist and
client must be aware of the many leveled effects. There are many
opportunities for misunderstandings, as well as for mutual shared
learning (Espin, 2001).
Nonetheless, the overall relevance and importance of concepts like
empowerment, awareness of difference, sensitivity to and avoidance of

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discrimination, best practices, self-examination, and education can be


seen as applicable to all women clients in various geographical settings.
By way of example, applying the guidelines to women from other
countries reveals both direct relevance and the need for cultural modication (Enns & Kasai, 2007). A few examples will sufce.
APA Guidelines 1, 2, and 3 speak directly to the direct effects of
socialization, oppression, and bias on women and girls, outlining decades
of research on these issues. Japanese women, like women in many
other cultures around the world, live in worlds of highly differentiated
gender roles; however, this is seen in a more positive light where difference is preserved and honored and the counseling reects that different perspective (Kawano, 1990). As Ueno (1997) writes, Our
primary goal is not to be like men, but to value what it means to be a
woman. Some Asian women believe that gender role differentiation
does not automatically produce greater subordination and dependency
for women on men, but in contrast independence; for example, when
women do not expect men to meet their emotional needs and turn to
other women for nurturing relationships. Amae is a widespread indigenous psychological concept in Japan. It represents a healthy othercenteredness that emphasizes attunement to the needs of others and
correspondingly positive reliance on others for emotional acceptance
and self-esteem. However, Japanese women are often expected to
shoulder the responsibility for giving amae, with limited opportunities
to receive amae (Enns & Kasai, 2001; Matsuyuki, 1998).
APA Guideline 6 states that psychologists are encouraged to use
interventions and practices that have been found to be most effective
in the psychological treatment of girls and women. The effectiveness of
particular interventions may directly vary as a function of the sociopolitical-economic context of the particular woman client. Ciftci (2008)
and Winter (2001) have worked extensively with immigrant ArabMuslim women. Women who are dislocated from their native support
systems are at special risk for depression, but our Western mental
health systems and structures that emphasize individual therapy and
psychopharmacological interventions do not necessarily meet their special needs. Speedy symptom alleviation, family therapy, cultural education, and social advocacy have been found to be effective avenues for
intervention and change, as well as working with local community
resources and support systems. Cognitive enhancement group therapy
programs have also been found to be particularly efcacious in helping
Saudi Arabian women to improve self-condence, communication
skills, and self-awareness (Pharaon, 2001).
APA Guideline 9 and CPA Principle 2 state the importance of considering the psychological problems of women and girls in their sociopolitical and socioeconomic context. The effects of socioeconomic status
have an enormous impact on the clinical issues which Mexican women

International Perspectives on Women and Mental Health

17

face (Hinkelman, 2001). Mexican women often suffer stresses that are
due to inadequate food and shelter, domestic violence, unemployment,
and oppressive political policies and structures. Religion plays a large
part in their family life, and some life events are attributed to luck,
supernatural forces, or acts of God, a fatalism that has been linked to a
high prevalence of depression and other clinical issues such as anxiety
and psychosomatic symptoms. Furthermore, Mexican women, especially in rural areas, tend to have limited information and access to
medical and mental health care resources and institutions and centers
specializing in assisting victims of violence and abuse (Pick, Contreras,
& Barker-Aguilar, 2006). All these considerations of the social context
of the depressed Mexican woman need to be considered in evaluation
of the intrapsychic and external sources of her distress and the appropriate interventions.
Finally, APA Guideline 11 and CPA Principle 4 speak to the need for
psychologists everywhere to help better their societies by engaging and
advocating for positive social change that alleviates institutional and systemic injustice and discrimination. The question that is relevant here is
whether or not there can be healing without justice. The abuse of
women worldwide and their resulting trauma makes explicit the link
between treatment and advocacy and calls forth a model of global practice for women and girls that incorporates advocacy. If justice is indeed
therapeutic, then psychologists are urged to go beyond their relatively
comfortable roles and ofce work to publicly work for their women clients in nontherapeutic settings and venues. From this perspective, we
help to forge a world in which women can live, work, and be healed
from the pernicious effects of discrimination, abuse, and violence and
the multiple mental health consequences of those conditions.
BEYOND CURRENT MODELS OF RESEARCH AND PRACTICE
As Aida Hurtado (2009) has articulated, feminist theorists have challenged traditional forms of knowledge production, staked out claims in
knowledge production, and emphasized the roots of multicultural feminist theory in the every day experiences of human beings who love,
live, laugh, cry, and think. Part of that challenge has been the development of new methodologies, qualitative and quantitative, to produce
new knowledge about womens lives and circumstances. In particular,
the development of participatory and action research techniques hold
promise for the development of an action-reection dialectic or praxis
to create an activist scholarship in international psychology (Earth,
1998; Khanna, 1996; Lykes, 1994, 2001; Lykes, Coquillon, & Rabenstein,
in press).
Stigma, cultural beliefs, and cultural norms with regard to expressing
psychological distress and help-seeking, diagnostic practices, treatment

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Mental and Physical Health

accessibility, and preference for alternative forms of treatment vary


cross-nationally. In countries such as Uganda, where mental illness may
be seen as a punishment for bad deeds or as possession by an evil spirit,
the associated stigma may lead to social isolation, exclusion, and disadvantage (Ssebunnya, Kigozi, Lund, Kizza, & Okello, 2009). Barriers to
help-seeking may also be found in countries where the cultural taboo of
consulting in a psychiatric setting may carry the risk of marriage ineligibility or divorce. These barriers may be particularly important to women
in societies where the roles of wife and mother are central to womens
status. For example, a study of outpatients in the United Arab Emirates
(Ouali et al., 2004) found that women were less likely to seek mental
health care than men, and that when they did seek care, 70 percent were
accompanied by someone else; 60 percent of the women said they could
not have sought care if they had not been accompanied, and this
dependence on being accompanied led to irregular attendance in followup appointments. They were also more likely to report feeling stigmatized than men (37.7 percent vs. 24.4 percent). In Arab Islamic societies,
the fact that women represent a familys honor may make them reluctant
to disclose personal issues to outsiders for fear of damaging the familys
status in addition to their own. Such conditions underscore the importance of understanding the relationship of social and cultural factors to
diagnosis, treatment, and delivery of mental health services to women
and of developing culturally appropriate approaches to service provision.
While U.S. studies have much to contribute to international mental
health efforts, the reverse is true as well. The lack of a psychiatric
establishment tied to biomedical models and an infrastructure that
inuences mental health practices from the top down may provide
opportunities for bottom up approaches reective of the voices of
consumers and tailored to their contexts. A model for such an
approach is found in Where There Is No Psychiatrist: A mental health care
manual (Patel, 2003), which states the promotion of gender equality,
by empowering women to make decisions that inuence their lives
and educating men about the need for equal rights, is the most important way of promoting womens mental health (p. 220). The manual
provides practical, context-based advice for community workers and
primary care doctors, nurses, social workers, and doctors, particularly
in developing countries. For example, it provides guidance on how to
ask about stress in a domestic context, ensure regular follow-up, ask
permission to speak to family members, and deal with advocacy issues
such as establishing psychoeducational or support groups for women
in the community.
In cultures where Western diagnostic constructs are unknown and
there are no words for mental disorders, the manuals bottom up
approach, which focuses on symptoms and avoids usage of stigmatizing labels, is particularly appropriate. The idea that it is important to

International Perspectives on Women and Mental Health

19

recognize that people seek help from diverse sources and there is little
to gain by challenging beliefs in evil spirits and witchcraft is likely to
meet with substantial resistance from a Western biomedical perspective. However, the point is made that counseling approaches based
on Western psychological theories may indeed be applicable across
culturesbut to be effective, a counselor must nd what will be acceptable. A similar bottoms up effort, informed by feminist principles and guidelines for therapy with women, would provide an
interesting approach for giving multicultural feminist psychology
away to community workers and service providers who seek alternatives to traditional approaches in the United States.
CONCLUSION
International perspectives on mental health offer a holistic vision of
health that is congruent with the biopsychosocial perspective advocated by feminist psychologists. This perspective views understanding
the relation of womens social roles and circumstances to mental health
in its social/political and cultural context as necessary for the development of effective treatment and prevention. That gender has a profound impact on the development of and response to mental distress
and disorder is indisputable. The goal now is to understand the factors
and mechanisms that produce that impact, including the power
inequalities, stigma, and devaluation associated with womens social
roles and circumstances. New theories and methods, informed by multicultural and international feminist perspectives, as reected in the
guidelines for psychological practice with women and girls, hold
promise as tools for achieving that goal. However, doing so will
require viewing gender as a multidimensional cultural construct with
elements that may interact with elements of the cultural context at multiple levelsbiological, psychological, social, environmental, cultural,
and contextualand developing policies and programs aimed at eliminating the power inequities, stigma, discrimination, and gender-based
violence that continue to undermine the mental health and well being
of women over their life cycle.
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