Student research finds that assigned gender roles can impact daily interactions

Sierra Elsbury

Assigned gender roles and how they affect self-image was the focus of a senior seminar project by Sierra Elsbury ’18 of Adell, Wisconsin. “The Effect of Assigned Gender Roles and the Evaluation of the Self” centered on how understanding gender identities and feeling comfortable in one’s own gender can affect interpersonal situations and interpersonal issues.

The project was conducted through Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI), a 60-question survey that targets identity and characteristics. Elsbury says the BSRI gives participates a percentage of their masculinity or femininity based on their answers.

There are three categories: a control group, which has no feedback; a group that receives truthful scores; and a group that receives non-truthful scores. Elsbury hypothesized that the group with deceitful information would be more likely to have a gender threat, or to not be comfortable with their current gender identity.

Although her research did not support her hypothesis, research by others has shown her hypothesis to be correct.

Elsbury said she was interested in this study topic was because she feels there are increasing gender issues in today’s world. She wanted not only to study how one’s gender identity affects oneself but also how it affects interactions with his or her environment and others. She plans to take what she learned from this study to work with adolescents on mental health and self-esteem issues relating to gender identities.

“This study helped me understand the great impact that gender identity can have on many different aspects of an individual’s life,” Elsbury says.

Nhi Le ’21
Glendale, Wisconsin