A Multiple Identity Approach to Gender: Identification with Women, Identification with Feminists, and Their Interaction
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GenderMultiple identitiesSocial identityGroup membershipIdentification with womenIdentification with feministsFemininityStereotypes
Breen, J.A.; et al. A Multiple Identity Approach to Gender: Identification with Women, Identification with Feminists, and Their Interaction. Frontiers in Psychology, 8: 1019 (2017). [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/49577]
SponsorshipThis work was supported by Grant no. PSI2016-79971-P from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology (AEI/FEDER, UE) awarded to SdL.
Across four studies, we examine multiple identities in the context of gender and propose that women's attitudes toward gender group membership are governed by two largely orthogonal dimensions of gender identity: identification with women and identification with feminists. We argue that identification with women reflects attitudes toward the content society gives to group membership: what does it mean to be a woman in terms of group characteristics, interests and values? Identification with feminists, on the other hand, is a politicized identity dimension reflecting attitudes toward the social position of the group: what does it mean to be a woman in terms of disadvantage, inequality, and relative status? We examine the utility of this multiple identity approach in four studies. Study 1 showed that identification with women reflects attitudes toward group characteristics, such as femininity and self-stereotyping, while identification with feminists reflects attitudes toward the group's social position, such as perceived sexism. The two dimensions are shown to be largely independent, and as such provide support for the multiple identity approach. In Studies 2–4, we examine the utility of this multiple identity approach in predicting qualitative differences in gender attitudes. Results show that specific combinations of identification with women and feminists predicted attitudes toward collective action and gender stereotypes. Higher identification with feminists led to endorsement of radical collective action (Study 2) and critical attitudes toward gender stereotypes (Studies 3–4), especially at lower levels of identification with women. The different combinations of high vs. low identification with women and feminists can be thought of as reflecting four theoretical identity “types.” A woman can be (1) strongly identified with neither women nor feminists (“low identifier”), (2) strongly identified with women but less so with feminists (“traditional identifier”), (3) strongly identified with both women and feminists (“dual identifier”), or (4) strongly identified with feminists but less so with women (“distinctive feminist”). In sum, by considering identification with women and identification with feminists as multiple identities we aim to show how the multiple identity approach predicts distinct attitudes to gender issues and offer a new perspective on gender identity.