While significant scholarship has focused on understanding risk factors for sexual and domestic violence perpetration among men, relatively little of this work has identified protective factors. A promising but perhaps under-examined protective factor is holding gender equitable attitudes (GEA), a stance which has been shown to be associated with reduced risk for perpetration and with willingness to engage in proactive, violence-preventative behavior. More information is needed, however, on the influences that foster GEA among boys and men - influences which could then be leveraged in prevention and health promotion efforts. The purpose of this exploratory, scoping review was to systematically review extant literature to identify factors across childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood that support men in developing GEA.
Four research databases plus google scholar were searched using combinations of terms including but not limited to “gender equit$,” “gender egalitarian,” “gender ideology,” “boys or men” and “attitudes.” Over five thousand articles were screened. To be included in the review, articles had to be available in English, reflect an empirical study in peer reviewed literature that included boys or men, and examine GEA as an outcome of other variables. GEA were defined based on previous literature as an awareness of and opposition to gender inequity, and support for equal access across gender in political, economic/labor, and private spheres. Eligible articles were reviewed by at least two of the authors and results from full, multivariate models in each study were entered into a data extraction table.
We identified 69 eligible studies which collectively examined 25 distinct life course influences on GEA. Studies were largely from the U.S. (47), though a total of 97 countries were reflected across the sample as a whole. Among the most consistently significant correlates or predictors of more equitable attitudes were higher levels of education, having parents who held, modeled, and/or communicated GEA, having an awareness of discrimination and/or a liberal political ideology, and exposure to gender transformative prevention programming. Hindrances to GEA for men included but were not limited to higher levels of religiosity, transitioning to fatherhood, having peer networks comprised mostly of men, and occupying a “traditional” bread-winning role in their current family structure.
Conclusions and Implications:
Results suggest that ideas about gender equity are dynamic and are shaped over time as men move through different life contexts. Each of these contexts (families, peer networks, workplaces, romantic relationships) are, in turn, venues through which GEA could be more intentionally fostered. This holds the potential to extend how and where primary prevention happens to realms outside of formalized prevention programs, which ultimately reach a relatively small number of men and boys. This review also surfaced domains such as perceived social norms, other peer factors, media, and social structural considerations which need more research attention regarding their influence on GEA, and their potential to serve as targets or venues for prevention.