A Time of Great Change

Published on 20 September 2023 at 13:11

Together with dr Laia Sánchez Guerrero and  prof. dr. Pia Schober, we studied how adolescents adapt their gender attitudes to their friends, classmates and/or parents.

Parents play a crucial role in shaping how their children view traditional gender roles, but we do not know much about how their influence changes during adolescence when adolescents  start listening more to their friends. This study looks at how adolescents in Sweden, Germany, England, and the Netherlands form their ideas about gender roles attitudes, with a specific attention to the role of parents, friends, and classmates.

We studied 4,645 adolescents (average age 14.9, 50% females) from the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Survey in Four European Countries. Regression analyses of within-person changes in attitudes were performed.

We found that, on average, adolescents became more supportive of gender equal roles as they got older. They also tended to adjust their beliefs to match those of the people around them – parents, friends, or classmates. When their beliefs clashed, adoescents usually leaned more towards those who held more equal views. This might be because they wanted to fit in with the prevailing idea of gender equality.

Interestingly, these patterns of adaptation were similar across the different countries we studied and align well with a multi-layered conceptualization of gender as a social structure that shapes gender attitudes.


The article can be found here (open access).

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