Abstract: A Critical Review of Gender Equitable Attitudes Measurement: Past, Present, and into the Future (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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A Critical Review of Gender Equitable Attitudes Measurement: Past, Present, and into the Future

Friday, January 13, 2023
South Mountain, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Juliana Carlson, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Jill Hoxmeier, PhD, Associate Professor, Central Washington University, WA
Erin Casey, PhD, Professor, University of Washington, Tacoma, Tacoma, WA
Claire Willey-Sthapit, MSSW, Doctoral Candidate, University of Washington, WA
Background and Purpose: Gender inequity is a global issue and priority (e.g., UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 - Gender Equity). Additionally, gender equity outcomes, including economic, social, and individual, are materially and systemically connected to racial, economic, and environmental justice. Therefore, the conceptualization of gender equitable attitudes (GEA) as conveyed in GEA measurement matters. We assert that GEA constitutes an important construct that exists separately from (though in relationship to) masculinity identities and gender ideologies, and therefore defining the construct of GEA is important to how it is measured. In addition, measures of GEA may not have evolved to reflect some of the current ways that gender equity and inequity play out and to be more inclusive of all gender and sexual identities. To fully understand the roles that GEA play in peoples’ lives and behavior, this critical review sought to examine the range of ways that GEA have been measured with a goal of identifying strengths and gaps in our current approaches to operationalizing this construct.

Methods: A critical review was selected based on (1) the scope of the literature and (2) the study aim. Over 5,000 titles were reviewed, with 184 articles screened in for a more in-depth review. Application of the review inclusion criteria resulted in a final pool of 69 articles that quantitatively examined life course factors that shape gender equitable attitudes. Across the 69 studies, 38 unique measurement approaches to assessing GEA were used, 12 original scales, 12 unique or one-time measurement approaches, and 14 representative, large scale data sources.

Results: We describe these three types of measures and analyze the ways they assess GEA across six defined measurement dimensions, drawn from David and Greenstein (2009) and Halimi et al. (2018): (1) conceptual definition of gender equity-related construct (2) life domains, (3) developmental period, (4) cultural context, (5) internal consistency, and (6) number of items. Overall, in the conceptual definition of GEA, there remains a great deal of variability in terms of how the construct of GEA is defined and measured. Within the life domain dimension, more measures assessed GEA within the private sphere (family life) compared to the public sphere (political). Within the developmental period dimension, the scales tended to center GEA in adulthood, limiting opportunities to understand GEA across the life course.

Conclusions and Implications: Based on these findings, we first make the case for the refinement/expansion of our GEA conceptualization to include a broader array of contexts in which these attitudes play out (e.g., education, politics, parenthood, day to day life) and to assess the degree to which measures exist in each of these realms. Second, we argue that GEA measures need to be more inclusive of all gender and sexual identities, and across the life course. Third, as a collective understanding of gender equity moves beyond labor participation and into broader human rights across all life domains, it will be important to augment available measures with those that tap into overt support for gender equality related to rights and access.