Perspectives you probably haven't thought of yet when hearing about psychology and gender
Annalisa Casini (1) and Michiel De Proost (2)
(1) UCLouvain; (2) VUB
(1) UCLouvain; (2) VUB
For many years, gender studies in psychology have been synonymous with “comparing the sexes” or “studying women-specific issues”. Still, contemporary gender perspectives allow researchers to go far beyond these early approaches. Through this symposium, we intend to present a wide range of research topics (i.e., parenting social norms, reproductive technology, gendered occupations and Trans* individuals’ identities), levels of analysis (i.e., individual, intergroup and normative), and methodologies (i.e., qualitative, quantitative, intercultural) representing the most recent trends in gender studies related to psychological issues in Belgium. Indeed, Isabelle Roskam, Laura Gallée, & Moïra Mikolajczak (UCLouvain), drawing on a large multicultural study, will illustrate how the promotion of egalitarian norms in the public sphere increases the risk of parental burnout among mothers when this is not accompanied by an equally egalitarian division of parental tasks in the private sphere. Loes Meeussen (KU Leuven) will complement this first contribution by presenting evidence showing indeed that men entering in traditionally female professions and social roles can be highly beneficial for families, organisations, and society. Michiel De Proost (VUB), Gily Coene (VUB), Julie Nekkebroeck (VUB), & Veerle Provoost (UGhent), taking a standpoint rooted in the fields of philosophy and moral sciences, will highlight the symbolic function of choosing social egg freezing in assisted reproduction and analyze how this decision its link to gendered moral codes of individual responsibility. Finally, Emma Sarter will discuss the negative impact of transnegativity on the health of trans* people despite a strong and positive social identification, which is known to be instead a powerful protective factor. Overall, these contributions “you probably haven't thought of yet when hearing about psychology and gender” illustrate how basic and applied research can benefit from a critical gender perspective that deeply questions the psychological research subjects themselves.
Speaker 1: When egalitarian values backfire on women: A 37-country study of parental burnout
Isabelle Roskam (1), Laura Gallée (1) and Moïra Mikolajczak (1)
In the vast majority of cultures, mothers are the main caregiver, and no one can match their extraordinary devotion to children even in egalitarian societies which encourage parents to share parenting duties. Despite the rise of feminism, traditional gender roles in family persist. This contradictory situation may be a source of distress for mothers who expect to share but, as a matter of fact, handle parenting responsibilities alone. The aim of the study is to test, using multilevel analyses, the relations between involvement in parental duties, egalitarian values promoted either by the mothers (individual level) or by the society in which they raise their children (societal level), and parental burnout across countries. Data were collected in a sample of more than 15.379 parents from 37 countries. We found that mothers have a higher level of involvement in parental duties, more egalitarian values, and a higher level of parental burnout than fathers across countries. Moreover, mothers reported a higher risk of parental burnout when they are highly involved in parental duties, have more egalitarian values toward gender roles and take care of children in a society that promotes a gender-equal policy. In conclusion, involvement in parental duties hurts egalitarian mothers whose expectations of shared parental duties are not met. Since inconsistencies threaten mothers, egalitarian countries must stop implicitly promoting a gendered vision of parenting while at the same time proclaiming themselves in favor of equity in family. The psychological and societal implications of the results are discussed.
Speaker 2: It gives me some peace of mind’: making sense of social egg freezing as a risk ritual
Michiel De Proost (1), Gily Coene (1), Julie Nekkebroeck (1) and Veerle Provoost (2)
(1) VUB; (2) UGhent
Social egg freezing has become an expanding practice in the landscape of assisted reproductive technology, though few qualitative studies have reported on why women actually decide to do this. Drawing from interviews with women who had considered to uptake at least one egg freezing cycle in Belgium, this article uses thematic analysis to understand their multiple motivations. We identified three recurrent themes: (a) being overwhelmed by uncertainty and a threatening future; (b) trusting the body to the medical gaze; and (c) pursuing peace of mind. This article further explores how emotions and existential worries are associated with their reproductive choice. Building on recent scholarship about meaning-making and risk rituals, we highlight how social egg freezing has the symbolic function of creating a sense of reassurance and how this is related to gendered moral codes of individual responsibility.
Speaker 3: An underexamined inequality: How to foster male engagement in traditionally female communal roles and occupations
Loes Meeussen (1)
(1) KU Leuven
While women are increasingly entering traditionally masculine, agentic occupations and roles, there has been less of a shift in the opposite direction: men moving into traditionally feminine, communal occupations and roles. This paper outlines the negative consequences of men’s low communal engagement, and how this inhibits various benefits for men themselves, for the women and children around them, and for society as a whole. We review how sociopsychological processes driven by gender norms and precarious manhood keep men from engaging in communal roles and behaviors. Moreover, we outline how insights into these contextual barriers to men’s communal engagement may also be used to facilitate change such that men are freed to pursue both agentic and communal roles. We discuss (the effectiveness of) different interventions at the societal, organizational, social, and relational level that may enable men to pursue communal interests.
Speaker 4: How can social psychology help us better understand the impact of transnegativity on the health of trans* people?
Emma Sarter (1) and Annalisa Casini (1)
Research led in social psychology supports the Rejection-Identification Model when studying the implications of perception of discrimination among women, but not among men (Schmitt, Branscombe, Kobrynowicz & Owen, 2002). Indeed, under certain circumstances, identifying to one’s gender group when facing discrimination seems to be an efficient coping mechanism for women. However, there is no indication that these works included trans* individuals in their samples and no study, to our knowledge, has tested this model among this population yet. Trans* people frequently face discrimination, also called transnegativity, in different daily life contexts (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2014), which highlights the need to study the consequences of this phenomenon from a social psychology lens. The goal of this study is to explore the relationships between gender identity, perceived discrimination and perceived health among trans* and cisgender people. We hypothesize that, in a cisnormative society (Worthen, 2016), perceived discrimination would have a more negative impact on trans* people’s health as compared to cisgender people (Schmitt et al., 2002). Moreover, based on the Rejection-Identification Model, a stronger identification to one’s gender group and a stronger sense of belongingness would allow trans* individuals to cope with these negative consequences (Barr, Budge & Adelson, 2016; Branscombe, Schmitt & Harvey, 1999). An online survey was developed to test these hypotheses (N = 89) that were not supported by our results. Potential explanations, limits and future perspectives will be discussed, comparing these results with those of the few existing studies reporting similar patterns.