Understanding Gender and Fostering Positive Social Change in the 21st Century

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760). This special issue belongs to the section "Gender Studies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2023) | Viewed by 32587

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Psychology, National College of Ireland, Dublin 1, Ireland
Interests: gender stereotypes; gender bias; relational frame theory; contextual behavioural science; equality; diversity and inclusion; gender equality initiatives

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Psychology, National College of Ireland, Dublin 1, Ireland
Interests: psycho-oncology and cancer survivorship; health and well-being of healthcare professionals; LGBTQ+ well-being; acceptance and commitment therapy; clinical training and supervision; study abroad; international psychology; ethics; qualitative research

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Research has demonstrated changes in our understanding of gender across time, highlighting greater diversity in identities and expression while also emphasizing similarities across cognitive and psychological factors. The past few decades have seen the proliferation of efforts to promote gender equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). However, persisting patterns of gender relations may influence attitudes and behavior in restrictive ways, and progress towards gender equity has been slow. For example, women continue to be perceived as more communal and so are deemed less suitable for highly agentic roles (e.g., Carli et al., 2016), men who appear to be less agentic are rated as less competent and hirable for managerial roles (Bosak et al., 2018), and binary notions of gender remain a social norm (e.g., see Morgenroth and Ryan, 2020). Research on gender and EDI interventions often focus on this gender binary (women/men, feminine/masculine) and treat gender as an isolated social identity, despite the need for more nuanced and intersectional research. This limits our understanding of the nature and influence of gender and limits the generalizability of EDI interventions to more expansive gender (e.g., transgender, non-binary, gender fluid) and social identities. For example, other social identities may interact with gender to produce dynamic patterns of bias requiring intentional intervention efforts. 

The aim of this Special Issue, therefore, is to broaden our understanding of gender using diverse theoretical lenses and methodological approaches to examine the nature of this social concept among diverse groups, exploring related aspects such as representation, stereotypes, bias, attitudes, and gender initiatives. Additionally, we hope the articles in this Special Issue contribute to the research literature on fostering positive social change regarding gender through, for example, EDI intervention efforts that are evidence-based, accessible, and sustainable. 

This Special Issue invites contributions from fields such as, but not limited to: anthropology, behavioral science, economics, education, gender studies, history, law, media sciences, philosophy, politics, psychology, and sociology. Original research articles, conceptual papers, and reviews are welcome, as well as varied methodological approaches (e.g., experimental, cross-sectional, qualitative). There is no restriction on groups/contexts to be considered within submissions; however, we especially encourage submissions that are relevant to groups that have been targeted for oppression, particularly when members of this community are represented on the research team, and submissions from researchers from non-WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic) countries to further expand the research literature. Consideration of cultural context and researcher positionality should be included within submissions where appropriate to acknowledge how these factors may influence the research conducted.

Dr. Lynn Farrell (she/her)
Dr. Amanda Kracen (she/her)
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Social Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • gender
  • equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • gender stereotypes
  • gender bias
  • attitudes
  • intersectionality
  • interventions

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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24 pages, 2827 KiB  
Article
When Women Ask, Does Curiosity Help?
by Alexandra Mislin, Ece Tuncel and Lucie Prewitt
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(3), 152; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13030152 - 7 Mar 2024
Viewed by 1244
Abstract
This research examines the potential social benefits of displaying curiosity during a negotiation. Past research has found women who ask directly in distributive agentic settings can suffer negative social consequences and obtain worse objective outcomes compared to men. In three experiments (N = [...] Read more.
This research examines the potential social benefits of displaying curiosity during a negotiation. Past research has found women who ask directly in distributive agentic settings can suffer negative social consequences and obtain worse objective outcomes compared to men. In three experiments (N = 600) using different negotiation contexts, we found men and women who approach negotiations with curiosity reap the same economic benefits of asking directly but without incurring a social cost. We also found that perceived warmth partially accounts for the positive effects of curiosity (vs. asking directly) on negotiators’ social outcomes. Finally, our results reveal women feel more comfortable conveying curiosity compared to using a direct approach in their negotiations. We discuss the implications of these findings in enhancing negotiation effectiveness for both women and men. Full article
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30 pages, 8613 KiB  
Article
Putting Abortion in the Frame: The Success of the Campaign to Repeal the 8th Amendment in Ireland
by Louise Maguire and Fiona Murphy
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(9), 475; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12090475 - 25 Aug 2023
Viewed by 3194
Abstract
This paper examines the role that framing and visual communications played in the mobilising of contentious politics, with particular reference to the Repeal the 8th referendum in Ireland in 2018. We analyse how framing an unpopular argument through both text and visual imagery [...] Read more.
This paper examines the role that framing and visual communications played in the mobilising of contentious politics, with particular reference to the Repeal the 8th referendum in Ireland in 2018. We analyse how framing an unpopular argument through both text and visual imagery galvanized the abortion debate on the Yes side (in particular) and created alliances and solidarity through public displays of sentiment towards the issue. Using frame analysis, we examine the visual imagery and messaging employed by both sides of the ‘Repeal the 8th’ debate and conclude that the careful framing of unpopular arguments or positions can open up the space for dialogue and personal stories that were previously shrouded in shame and mystery. This new willingness to discuss the topic of abortion ultimately led to an outpouring of compassion and empathy that had previously not existed due to the religious and misogynistic influence on women’s reproductive health in Ireland up to that point. The ultimate ‘Yes’ vote resulted in one of the biggest social and health reforms for Irish women in the 21st century, one that, five years later however, we still wait to see the full implementation of. Full article
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25 pages, 322 KiB  
Article
Trans Abroad: American Transgender Students’ Experiences of Navigating Identity and Community While Studying Abroad
by Taylor Michl, Alexandra Stookey, Jillian Wilson, Katie Chiou, Trisha L. Raque and Amanda Kracen
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(9), 472; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12090472 - 24 Aug 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2581
Abstract
Despite significant and increasing numbers of students studying internationally, there are few data about the experiences of study abroad for various marginalized students, including transgender and gender expansive (TGE) students. Therefore, 15 TGE adults from the United States were interviewed about navigating gender [...] Read more.
Despite significant and increasing numbers of students studying internationally, there are few data about the experiences of study abroad for various marginalized students, including transgender and gender expansive (TGE) students. Therefore, 15 TGE adults from the United States were interviewed about navigating gender and culture during undergraduate study abroad programs. Interviews were analyzed using consensual qualitative research (CQR). Participants shared how they benefited from international study and navigated intersecting social identities, including gender, which was complex and nuanced. They discussed how they actively managed issues of disclosure and its consequences, explored their identities and the influence of their social setting, and dealt with anticipated, deliberate, and unintentional harm from others. Relationships and community were priorities for participants when studying internationally; they explained how they determined whether to invest in relationships or not. Participants also clarified what their relationships looked like during study abroad, as well as unique considerations that arose from their marginalized identities. These findings can help inform the development of more inclusive, safe, and satisfying study abroad experiences for all students, especially TGE individuals; implications for future research and study abroad interventions are provided. Full article
15 pages, 348 KiB  
Article
What ChatGPT Tells Us about Gender: A Cautionary Tale about Performativity and Gender Biases in AI
by Nicole Gross
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(8), 435; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12080435 - 1 Aug 2023
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 14939
Abstract
Large language models and generative AI, such as ChatGPT, have gained influence over people’s personal lives and work since their launch, and are expected to scale even further. While the promises of generative artificial intelligence are compelling, this technology harbors significant biases, including [...] Read more.
Large language models and generative AI, such as ChatGPT, have gained influence over people’s personal lives and work since their launch, and are expected to scale even further. While the promises of generative artificial intelligence are compelling, this technology harbors significant biases, including those related to gender. Gender biases create patterns of behavior and stereotypes that put women, men and gender-diverse people at a disadvantage. Gender inequalities and injustices affect society as a whole. As a social practice, gendering is achieved through the repeated citation of rituals, expectations and norms. Shared understandings are often captured in scripts, including those emerging in and from generative AI, which means that gendered views and gender biases get grafted back into social, political and economic life. This paper’s central argument is that large language models work performatively, which means that they perpetuate and perhaps even amplify old and non-inclusive understandings of gender. Examples from ChatGPT are used here to illustrate some gender biases in AI. However, this paper also puts forward that AI can work to mitigate biases and act to ‘undo gender’. Full article
18 pages, 1030 KiB  
Article
What Is in a Name? Exploring Perceptions of Surname Change in Hiring Evaluations in Academia
by Vasilena Stefanova, Ioana Latu and Laura Taylor
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(2), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12020095 - 13 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1886
Abstract
The motherhood penalty reflects inequalities in the workplace based on caregiver status. A number of factors have been identified as potential triggers of motherhood penalty effects, such as becoming pregnant or taking maternity leave. However, little is known as to whether these effects [...] Read more.
The motherhood penalty reflects inequalities in the workplace based on caregiver status. A number of factors have been identified as potential triggers of motherhood penalty effects, such as becoming pregnant or taking maternity leave. However, little is known as to whether these effects could also be triggered by more subtle cues that may signal potential changes in caregiver status. The current study investigated the impact of surname change visible on publication lists in academics’ Google Scholar profiles on evaluations of competence, commitment, work–family balance, hiring, and promotion likelihood. Contrary to the predictions in our preregistration, the findings showed that women who have changed their surname received more favourable evaluations compared to those who did not. In addition, female participants favoured female academics who have changed their surname compared to those who did not and this was mediated by higher perceived competence and commitment scores. These findings were interpreted through the lens of social role theory and the role prioritisation model, suggesting that behaviours that are consistent with gendered expectations are evaluated more favourably. Full article
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Review

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10 pages, 253 KiB  
Review
Social Media, Newsworthiness, and Missing White Woman Syndrome: A Criminological Analysis
by Avril Margaret Brandon, Erika Emandache and Aleksandra Iwaniec
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(1), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13010044 - 10 Jan 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1772
Abstract
Missing White Woman Syndrome has been widely acknowledged within traditional mainstream media, resulting in a heavy focus on missing white women and a simultaneous underrepresentation of missing women from minority ethnic communities. However, less is known about whether this has carried through to [...] Read more.
Missing White Woman Syndrome has been widely acknowledged within traditional mainstream media, resulting in a heavy focus on missing white women and a simultaneous underrepresentation of missing women from minority ethnic communities. However, less is known about whether this has carried through to social media, wherein users play a key role in determining what becomes widespread news. This review seeks to examine this issue with reference to existing research. It begins by exploring the concept of newsworthiness and the ways in which social media influences the distribution of news. It will then review the concept of the ‘ideal victim’, and its continued association with ethnicity. Finally, the review will examine Missing White Woman Syndrome and the ways in which it has historically manifested within traditional media and continues to manifest on social media. The review will conclude with a discussion on findings and avenues for future research in Ireland and internationally. Full article
19 pages, 384 KiB  
Review
Unpacking Gender for Flat Breast Cancer Survivors Assigned Female at Birth: A Methodological Application of Visually Informed, Critical Discursive Psychology
by Trisha L. Raque, Keiko M. McCullough and Maggie A. Creegan
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(10), 563; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12100563 - 9 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1658
Abstract
Given the high prevalence rates of breast cancer and mastectomy as recommended treatment, a large number of breast cancer survivors assigned female at birth may face contradicting messages about whether to pursue reconstruction. Survivors desire information outside of standard biased pro-reconstruction messages, with [...] Read more.
Given the high prevalence rates of breast cancer and mastectomy as recommended treatment, a large number of breast cancer survivors assigned female at birth may face contradicting messages about whether to pursue reconstruction. Survivors desire information outside of standard biased pro-reconstruction messages, with an increase in utilization of online social platforms to learn of the lived experiences of survivors who have gone flat. As breasts are socially constructed symbols connected to femininity, fertility, motherhood, and (hetereo)sexualization, the application of visually informed, critical discursive psychology holds promise as a method for analyzing how survivors “do” gender after going flat. This paper summarizes prior research on messages around reconstruction before diving into how breasts hold sociocultural meanings in relation to gender performance. A preliminary reading of a photo posted on Twitter by Tig Notaro, a comedian who has been public about breast cancer, and a photo posted on Instagram by entrepreneur Jamie Kastelic were analyzed using a visually informed, critical discursive psychology lens. Our preliminary analysis illustrates the utility of this method for understanding how flat survivors assigned female at birth construct gender for both themselves and a social media audience. This paper challenges assumptions regarding what a “healthy” breast cancer survivor looks like and aims to encourage future inquiries into how social media functions as a space where survivors can perform gender online after going flat themselves. Full article

Other

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17 pages, 379 KiB  
Essay
Contributions of a “Brazilianized” Radical Behaviorist Theory of Subjectivity to the Feminist Debate on Women
by Carolina Laurenti
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(11), 641; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12110641 - 20 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1056
Abstract
An essentialist view of gender and an individualistic concept of subjectivity have distanced psychological theories from emancipatory feminist projects. In Brazil, similar to some other psychological orientations, the behavior-analytic field has sought an interface with feminism. The anti-essentialist vein of radical behaviorism underpins [...] Read more.
An essentialist view of gender and an individualistic concept of subjectivity have distanced psychological theories from emancipatory feminist projects. In Brazil, similar to some other psychological orientations, the behavior-analytic field has sought an interface with feminism. The anti-essentialist vein of radical behaviorism underpins the early movement toward feminism. This essay aims to expand the area of contact with feminism through a theoretical proposal for understanding women’s subjectivity inspired by Brazilian behavior-analytic literature. From a contextualized, multidimensional, pluralized, and politicized view of subjectivity, women’s subjectivation is forged in a tripartite complex of body, person, and “self”, whose relative unity is susceptible to changes and conflicts. In a patriarchal, racist, and cis-heteronormative society, such as the Brazilian one, subjectivation is also an oppressive process. Nevertheless, the essay demonstrates that women’s subjectivation can be a process of emancipatory liberation. This possibility is glimpsed within a virtuous dialectical circuit between disruptive verbal communities (uncommitted to institutional, hierarchical, and oppressive social control) and subversive subjectivities. Thus, behavior-analytic psychology has theoretical tools to situate the process of women’s subjectivation not as a locus of depoliticization but as a crucial ally in constructing a more equitable and just society, as envisioned by feminism. Full article
27 pages, 500 KiB  
Essay
Gender Is the Name of the Frame: Understanding Gender through the Lens of Relational Frame Theory
by Lynn Farrell, Táhcita M. Mizael and Evelyn R. Gould
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(10), 532; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12100532 - 22 Sep 2023
Viewed by 2500
Abstract
While researchers continue to develop their understanding of gender as a complex and multifaceted concept, the detrimental impact of gender-related inequity and social injustice persists. This conceptual paper describes the potential benefits of incorporating Relational Frame Theory (RFT) as a contextual and pragmatic [...] Read more.
While researchers continue to develop their understanding of gender as a complex and multifaceted concept, the detrimental impact of gender-related inequity and social injustice persists. This conceptual paper describes the potential benefits of incorporating Relational Frame Theory (RFT) as a contextual and pragmatic approach to gender. An RFT lens might enhance our understanding of gender as a language-based phenomenon, involving patterns of derived relational responding and rule-governed behavior. Such an understanding might then facilitate the development of assessments and context-sensitive interventions that support flexible and expansive experiences of gender that promote thriving. Despite the potential utility of an RFT approach, RFT has rarely been applied to gender-related concerns. This paper aims to provide a starting point for exploring gender from an RFT perspective, highlight relevant RFT studies, acknowledge limitations of current lines of research, and provide recommendations regarding future research. We hope that the paper will also act as a call to action for contextual behavioral scientists, as well as demonstrate how an RFT perspective might both align with, as well as add to, existing perspectives from other disciplines. Full article
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