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Men with school-aged daughters less likely to hold sexist views

'Gender norm attitudes can significantly be shaped by adulthood experiences'

Sabrina Barr
Saturday 15 December 2018 13:33
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Men who have daughters who are of a school age are less likely to be sexist, a recent study has found.

A team from the London School of Economics decided to explore how men’s stances on gender norms can change when raising a daughter in primary and secondary school education.

The researchers claim that men become more aware of the challenges that girls experience when they have daughters, a consequence that they describe as the "mighty girl" effect.

Furthermore, they conclude that people's views on gender norms can evolve over the years, meaning that stereotypical views on the differing roles of boys and girls are not necessarily fixed in adulthood.

For the study, which was published in journal Oxford Economic Papers, the team assessed data that had been collated by the British Household Panel Survey on an annual basis between 1991 to 2012.

They examined the responses of more than 5,000 men and more than 6,300 women, all of whom had children under the age of 21 living in their homes.

The participants were asked whether they agreed with statements such as "a husband's job is to earn money; a wife's job is to look after the home and family".

They had to select their answer from a five-point scale, with options ranging from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree".

According to their findings, men with school-aged daughters are more likely to disagree with statements advocating conventional attitudes towards gender.

While the men who didn't have a child or only had sons had a 37 per cent likelihood of holding traditional views about gender, 33 per cent of those who had at least one daughter in secondary school felt the same way.

Dr Joan Costa-i-Font, co-author of the study, explains that having a better understanding of the challenges that girls and women face may influence preconceived ideas that fathers have about gender roles.

"They experience first-hand all the issues that [exist] in a female world and then that basically moderates their attitudes towards gender norms and they become closer to seeing the full picture from the female perspective," he tells The Guardian.

Natasha Devon, a body image and mental health campaigner, adds that it's important for all men to demonstrate that they care about the issues that girls and women face, regardless of whether or not they have daughters.

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"We need men to see women as human beings even if they don't have a good relationship with their mum or sisters or have a daughter," she says.

"I think we need to find out what it is specifically about having a daughter that changes men's minds and look at how we can ingrain that more into the socialisation process for all boys from an early age."

On Friday 14 December, the Advertising Standards Authority issued new guidelines stating that adverts created by British companies that endorse harmful gender stereotypes will be banned from June 2019.

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