Sex-role behavior among blacks and whites



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The present study provided an overall framework in which sex-role behavior among black and white subjects could be investigated along several dimensions, including: values, stereotypes, and equity among the sexes. In addition the general willingness of persons to openly support the Women's Movement was explored. Subjects consisted of two separate groups of black and white male and female students from the Houston Community College System and typically were heads of households and held full-time work positions. To measure sex-role values, the first group of subjects judged the desirability for a racially and gender defined target of each of the personality characteristics originally sampled by Bern. Students rated the desirability of the characteristics for members within their own racial group. To measure stereotyping, a second sample of subjects rated the designated target person in two different situational contexts: work and job situations and friendship, marriage, and dating situations. Scales specifically tapping responsibility, trust-worthiness, and reliability were interspersed among other less specific scales. Again, subjects rated the adjectives for designated members of their own racial group and subjects rated the adjectives for either a male or female person, but not both. These same subjects indicated their degree of endorsement of equity between the sexes by evaluating each item of MacDonald's Sex Role Survey. In addition, these subjects assessed their own willingness to openly support Women's Movement groups by completing a check-list questionnaire. Eight main hypotheses were that (1) black Americans identify fewer and different personality dimensions as differentially desirable for the sexes than white Americans, (2) black Americans possess more negative stereotypes regarding black males than white Americans possess regarding white males, (3) specifically, black females view black males more negatively than white females view white males, (4) white females view themselves more negatively than any other race-sex group view themselves, (5) black males and females endorse more equity between the sexes than do white males and females, (6) blacks have a less negative reaction to persons characterized as out of sex-role than do whites, (7) whites are more willing to join Women Movement groups than are blacks, and (8) the reasons for unwillingness of involvement in Women's Rights groups among blacks are different than those among whites who are also unwilling to become involved. Hypotheses 1 and 8 were confirmed. Hypotheses 2, 3, and 7 were not confirmed. Hypothesis 4, though not confirmed, indicated a significant reverse relationship. Although hypothesis 5 could not be confirmed in the intended manner, the results that were obtained did seem to support the hypothesis. Hypothesis 6 could not be tested. The significance of these results, as well as others not directly related to a formal hypothesis are discussed and suggestions are made for future research.