Counselors' perceptions of sex role stereotypes


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Counselors' perceptions of sex role stereotypes
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ix, 111 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Hull, Miriam Bernstein, 1946-
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Student counselors   ( lcsh )
Perception   ( lcsh )
Sex role   ( lcsh )
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theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis--University of Florida.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 102-109).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Miriam Bernstein Hull.
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University of Florida
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Full Text



Miriam Bernstein Hull

A Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council of
the University of Florida
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

University of Florida


c Copyright by Miriam Bernstein Hull 1979


Without the help and cooperation of many people,

the research for and writing of this dissertation

could never have been completed. Sincere apprecia-

tion is expressed to all the following persons for

their invaluable help in this project:

Dr. Robert 0. Stripling, my chairperson, who gave

freely of his time and support while inspiring high

levels of graduate performance throughout the formula-

tion and completion of this entire project.

Dr. Jordan B. Ray and Dr. James Wattenbarger, who

gave their valuable assistance and encouragement

throughout this project.

Dr. Benjamin Barger, who was there when I needed


Norman L. Hull, my husband, without whose love,

commitment and efforts this project would not have been


Freda and Leo Bernstein, my parents, who inspired

my perseverance while providing much mechanical assist-


Rebecca and Andrew Hull, my children, who gave me

the future orientation needed to complete this project.




LIST OF TABLES . ... .. .




Purpose of the Study. .
Statement of the Problem. .
Hypotheses. . .
Definition of Terms .


Sex Role Acquisition and Societal
Adjustment . .
Sex Role and Self-Concept .
Counselors and Sex Role .
Summary . .


Description of the Sample .
Data Collection . .
Instrumentation . .
Data Analysis . .
Limitations ..



Conclusions Drawn from this
Investigation . .
Summary . .
Recommendations for Further Study

* 1

.... 2
* 5
. 7
* 7

* 9

. 14
. 30
. 47

. 49

. 49
. 51
. 53
. 56
S. 59

. 61

. 67

. 67
. .. 76
. 77
. .. 77
















S 86

S 88



S 96




Table Page


2 MEAN SCORES. ............ 63







Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the
Graduate Council of the University of Florida in Partial
Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Miriam Bernstein Hull

December 1979

Chairman: Dr. Robert O. Stripling
Major Department: Counselor Education

The purpose of this study was to examine urban

community college counselors' perceptions of males,

females, and adults without regard to sex. The main

objective was to learn if male and female counselors

had different perceptions of males and females as com-

pared to their perceptions of adults. Another objective

was to learn if there was any correlation between coun-

selors' age and their perceptions of males, females,

and adults.

The subjects were 149 urban community college

counselors from seven southeastern states. A community

college was considered urban if it was located in a

Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area, as defined by

the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Each college was asked

to provide a list of counselors who had at least a

master's degree and who spent at least 50% of their


time in face-to-face contact with students or with

other college personnel concerning students. In the

24 colleges that agreed to participate, 184 counselors

met the criteria. Of these 184 counselors, there was

a total of 87 male counselors and 62 female counselors

whose data were usable (80.9% of the counselors who

met the specified criteria).

The counselors were asked to complete one of the

three forms (male, female, or adult) of the Sex Role

Questionnaire produced by Rosenkrantz, Vogel, Bee,

Broverman, and Broverman in 1968, and a cover sheet

which included a request for demographic data. The

Sex Role Questionnaire is composed of 36 bipolar items,

each describing a characteristic attribute of an indi-

vidual. The items are classified as to which pole is

judged more socially desirable. A high score indicates

greater social desirability.

Based on previous research, it was expected that

male counselors would perceive males and adults as

being similar and females as being different. These

expectations were not supported. Using a completely

randomized analysis of variance, the data indicated

that there was no significant difference in the percep-

tions of males, females, and adults. Male and female

counselors perceived males, females, and adults in sim-

ilar terms. However, it was found that male counselors


had slightly greater expectations for males than female

counselors did, and female counselors had greater

expectations for adults than did male counselors.

There was no difference between male and female coun-

selors in their expectations of females.

There was no significant correlation (p < .05)

between the ages of the counselors and their percep-

tions of sex role stereotypes. When an additional

analysis was performed, computing the correlation

between the years since the counselors' last degree and

their perceptions of sex role stereotypes, no signifi-

cant correlation (p < .05) was found. It was concluded

that sex role steroetypes are not as fixed as earlier

studies had indicated, at least as perceived by community

college counselors in seven southeastern states.


During the 1960's and the 1970's the interrelated

issues of sexism and attitudes toward women have become

central concerns of American society, and have posed

anew the philosophical question of woman's role within

the fabric of society. Sexist attitudes and sex role

stereotyping tend to limit female potential and restrict

males into immutable roles. Cultural norms may deter an

individual from pursuing a goal which would serve best

both his own and society's interests. Cultural lag may

explain to some extent why societies cling to outmoded

beliefs and attitudes about both men and women. For

counselors within an educational community these out-

dated common beliefs may be reinforced by theories which

define the counselor's role as helping an individual

adjust to the cultural norm. The expressed desires of

educators have been to emphasize the individual and to

help each student achieve his/her potential; however,

until sexism and stereotyping are removed this may not

be possible.


Purpose of the Study

Because sex role stereotyping is an educational

problem demanding attention, the purpose of this study

was to provide empirical data about the sex role percep-

tions of urban community college counselors. The study

surveyed urban community college counselors because it

was believed that when changes in societal perceptions

occur, they would be first manifested in urban areas.

The population for this study was drawn from the south-

eastern states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi,

North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Sex role stereotypes are highly consensual norms

and beliefs about the differing characteristics of men

and women. Evidence of the existence of such sex role

stereotypes is abundantly present in the literature

(Broverman, Broverman, Clarkson, Rosenkrantz, and Vogel,


Broverman et al. (1970) reported that mental

health clinicians described both males and females very

stereotypically (males/aggressive/females/submissive).

More importantly, the traits ascribed to a nonsex speci-

fied adult were less likely to be applied to a woman

than to a man; in fact, the male description was vir-

tually identical to that of the sex unspecified adult

while the female description differed significantly.

Furthermore, the researchers compared the American


societal perpetuation of the female sex role stereotypes

with the "pre-civil rights ideal Negro" stereotypes of a

conforming, obedient, submissive black who is well

adjusted to his society. The former ideal Negro stereo-

type is, of course, no longer valid; and analogously, it

is probably true that the stereotypes perceived by the

subjects in the 1970 Broverman study are no longer com-

pletely valid.

There has been much publicity and concern about

the changing role of women. In the 1970's the attention

given to sex role stereotypes ascribed to women has been

greater than at any other time in history. Cancian

(1975) investigated publicity on topics related to the

women's movement by counting the proportion of listings

devoted to "women" in the New York Times Index and the

Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature between 1965 and

1974. The number of listings was constant from 1965 to

1968, but there was a significant increase between 1969

and 1970. In fact, during 1969 and 1970, the listings

devoted to women constituted a full 2% of the total, the

largest percentage of topics ever written about women.

It was believed reasonable to assume that counselors

have experienced the influence of the women's movement.

Current research was needed to ascertain whether there

had been any change in sex role stereotypes of both men

and women.


At all educational levels counselors are the

official resource persons for students seeking assist-

ance concerning personal, educational, and career deci-

sions. Counselors have the potential to influence, not

only students but also the counseling profession,

instructors and administrators (Verheyden-Hilliard,1977).

Counselors' perceptions about men and women are a sig-

nificant factor in the counseling process (Oliver, 1975).

By learning the perceptions that counselors have about

sex role stereotypes, there should be more knowledge

of the expectations that counselors bring to the coun-

seling situation (Pietrofesa & Schlossberg, 1970).

There has been a dearth of research reported in the

literature on the community college counselor. With

growth of college enrollment, the community college has

been the avenue many women have chosen for both entry

and re-entry into the world of work. Within community

colleges, programs and courses for, and about, women

have been organized. Indeed, community college coun-

selors themselves may have enrolled in courses concern-

ing the psychology of women. Therefore, there is a pro-

fessional responsibility to engage in research on the

contemporary beliefs and sex role perceptions of com-

munity college counselors.

The age of the community college counselor may be

related to the counselor's perception of sex role


stereotypes. There is a tendency for older people to

adhere to more traditional beliefs, and older women cus-

tomarily support traditional roles for women. Ryder

(1965) reported that when new cohorts of women enter a

population (i.e., a given profession) they can effect an

attitude change in all members of that population. It

would appear that the sex role perceptions of both young

counselors (sex unspecified) and women counselors (both

older and younger) are becoming liberalized to a greater

extent than those of older women and male counselors.

In addition to investigating whether there is a differ-

ence in male and female counselors' perceptions of males

and females and the relationship of each to the adult

stereotype, this research was designed to determine

whether there existed any correlation between the age of

counselors and their perceptions of sex role stereo-


Statement of the Problem

Male stereotypic characteristics traditionally

have had a higher societal value than female stereo-

typic characteristics (Lynn, 1962; Rosenkrantz et al.,

1968). As indicated above, mental health clinicians

perceived the male in almost identical terms to those in

which they perceived the sex unspecified adult (Broverman,

et al., 1970); and their perception of the female was


significantly different from that of either the male or

adult. Previous studies have indicated that both male

and female counselors had the same stereotypic percep-

tions of adults, males and females. However, most of

the studies concerned with sex role stereotypes were

conducted prior to the women's movement. Because that

movement has had so much influence on educated women, it

was believed that women counselors in urban community

colleges would now make fewer distinctions based upon sex

role stereotypes. It was also believed that male coun-

selors in the same institutions probably would perceive

adult and male stereotypes as similar while the female

stereotype would be perceived as different from either

adult or male stereotypes.

Because younger people have had greater exposure

to the women's movement and younger counselors may have

had courses, workshops and access to literature on women

not originally available to older counselors (Stevens,

1971), it was further predicted that younger counselors

would have a less traditional perception of the female

and would perceive the adult, the male and female very

similarly. More specifically, the questions answered by

the research were:

1. Do male and female counselors practicing in

urban community colleges have different perceptions of


males and females, as compared to their perceptions of


2. Is there a correlation (p < .05) between coun-

selors' ages and their perceptions of males, females and



I. There will be no difference (p < .05) in the

means among groups receiving male, female and adult

instructions on the Sex Role Questionnaire.

II. There will be no interaction effect (p < .05)

between the sex of the counselors and the type of

instruction (male, female or adult) on the Sex Role Ques-


III. There will be no positive correlation

(p < .05) between the ages of the counselors and their

perceptions of the male, as scored on the Sex Role Ques-


IV. There will be no positive correlation

(p < .05) between the ages of the counselors and their

perceptions of the female, as scored on the Sex Role


Definition of Terms

Throughout this study, certain terms are used that

have specialized or limited meanings. The following

should help to clarify some of these terms:


Stereotype--A fixed standard or concept of

attributes of a class of persons or social values. Once

formed, stereotyped impressions are extremely resistent

to change (Krech, Crutchfield & Livson, 1970).

Role--The kind of behavior expected of an indi-

vidual because of his place within social arrangements.

Any one person fulfills or adopts numerous roles on var-

ied occasions (Hilgard, Atkinson & Atkinson, 1975).

Sex Role--The behavioral patterns, attitudes and

characteristics of members of one sex (Cox, 1973).

Traditional Female--A woman who discontinues her

career commitments to become a full time wife and

mother (O'Connell, 1976).

Nontraditional Female--A woman who does not inter-

rupt her paid career commitments to become a wife and

mother (O'Connell, 1976).

Neotraditional Female--A woman who interrupts paid

employment for child rearing and later resumes career

commitments (O'Connell, 1976).

Adult--A nonsex specified physically mature per-

son. For the purposes of this study, adult is opera-

tionally defined as a nonsex specified person whose

characteristics conform to the majority of the coun-

selors' perceptions of an adult.


Studies which have explored the problem of sex

role stereotyping have approached the area from three

general perspectives. Because many counselors define

their role as assisting people to be integrated into

their society, one group of studies has investigated

the significance of the acquisition of the appropriate

sex role standards to which a person should conform to

be considered well adjusted in our society.

Second, given counselors' paramount considera-

tion for the individuality of the client in a thera-

peutic situation and the client's perception of self,

researchers have been concerned with the interrelation

between sex roles and self-concept. The third set of

studies focuses on counselors' sex role perceptions of

their clients in a counseling situation, what sex role

standards counselors consider socially desirable, and

how such sex role perceptions have affected counselors'

professional contact with clients.

Sex Role Acquisition and Societal Adjustment

Many counselors perceive their role as that of

helping people to become integrated into society.


Societies hold tenaciously to antiquated beliefs and

attitudes. Thus, while conditions of life today have

changed, many of the cultural attitudes remain basic-

ally unchanged. This is especially true with regard to

sex role stereotypes.

Most sex role research has focused on the women.

The masculine stereotype, however, is equally real and

defined (Wong, Davey & Conroe, 1976; Kirkman, 1977).

The need for approval and affirmation often has locked

men into role conformity out of fear that expression of

individuality would bring ridicule and stigmatization

(Harrison, 1978). Men have been denied the right to

develop their dependent, emotional selves (Stevens,

1974). Boys are assigned many conflicting roles and

are expected always to be in control (Nelson & Segrist,


Men in America are taught a set of rules
about the meaning of masculinity, almost from
the moment of their birth, which has the
effect of splitting their egos off from most
of their emotions A real man must
prove his masculinity. Masculinity
must be constantly tested: by the ability
to make the first string Little League team;
by the number of girls and the amount of money
he can "make. ." Unless the individual's
achievements meet the fixed criteria laid
down by these rules, he is not a real man, he
is a eunuch. (Stevens, 1974, p. 16)

More than for a woman, it seems important for a

man to understand his sex role since it appears that


"high self-esteem in males is a function of early success

in meeting cultural standards of masculine behavior" and

is "contingent on continued success in meeting cultural

standards of masculine achievement" (Hollender, 1972,

p. 344).

A male may have a difficult time in developing the

sex role he needs for self-esteem (Miller, 1973). A man

must accomplish something to earn or prove his masculinity.

It is not ascribed by society to all persons who are bio-

logically males. Males, more than females, are punished

for acting in ways typical of the opposite sex. Girls

may be tomboys, but boys may not be "sissies" (Tibbetts,

1977). Men are not as free as women to express their

feelings of fear, hurt, and grief. Men learn that they

must always cope and never admit defeat. Because men

have fewer societally acceptable alternatives, they com-

mit more suicides and, if single, are more likely to be

mentally ill (Sexton, 1970).

Sex role distinctions are fostered early in the

developmental process. The implicit assumption is that

acquiring an appropriate sex role is a desirable pro-

cess. Brown (1957) reported that the acquisition by the

child of normal sex role behavior was fundamental to

total personality development and adjustment. He reported

that girls at each age level were more variable in their


sex role preferences and urged that girls be encouraged

to develop their femininity early.

However, Baruch (1974) found that the children who

were least likely to gain in intelligence over a fixed

time period were those who measured highest in the trait

of femininity in psychological tests; that is, the

brighter and the more feminine the female was as a

youngster, the smaller the gain in intelligence as she

grew older. On the other hand, the brighter the boy in

intelligence the greater the gain in intelligence.

Adjustment and self-esteem were negatively related to

being feminine. Competence was a male-valued trait and

the girls who perceived themselves as competent did not

consider themselves as socially valued. Even when women

have been found to be equal to men, in intelligence,

they have not contributed equally to society (Farmer,


Because psychologists have accepted societally

imposed sex roles as essential to personal adjustment,

psychopathologists have considered disturbances in

adjustment attributable to inadequate gender identity.

Counselors and clients alike have tended to focus upon

the conditions and processes which facilitate success-

ful internalization of appropriate sex role standards.

This approach may not, however, be conducive to the

development of the full capabilities of the client.


Psychologists generally have accepted the tradi-

tional sex role ideology dividing the vast range of human

possibility into two mutually exclusive spheres

(Harrison, 1978). Bem (1972) postulated two reasons why

psychologists have produced a literature that portrays

the world as composed of feminine females, masculine

males and sex reversed deviants. She first hypothesized

that psychologists' sex ideology was predicated upon an

"adjustment" theory of mental health which emphasized

that it was desirable for children and adults to conform

to society's sex role standards. Bem challenged this

adjustment theory, suggesting that "the evidence reviewed

so far suggests that a high level of sex appropriate

behavior does not necessarily facilitate a person's gen-

eral psychological or social adjustment" (p. 7 ).

She also found no correlation between appropriate sex

role behavior and intelligence.

Bem then researched an aspect of psychological

"traits." Trait theory assumes that there are con-

sistencies in an individual's behavior that are cross-

situational. However, she reasoned that inconsistency

is the norm and it is the phenomenon of consistency

which must be explained. Using the Bem Sex Role

Inventory, she found that masculine and androgenous sub-

jects did not differ from one another in amount of

conformity, and they conformed on fewer traits than


feminine subjects. Bem, therefore, called for a re-

examination of the basic psychological theories which

promote the concept of sex typing and adjustment.

Clearly the acquisition of a sex role by an indi-

vidual both identifies and limits that individual. The

literature suggests that the sex role which society has

used to define the role of women has limited women to a

far greater degree than now appears justifiable and has

hindered a woman's individual development by denigrating,

in the name of adjustment, her capacity for achievement

within society.

Sex Role and Self-Concept

According to Rogers' self-theory, accurate percep-

tions and the subsequent integration of social expecta-

tions with personal values are essential to adaptive

development. He states that conflicts between personal

goals and social norms are likely to occur least for

flexible individuals who can find a variety of ways to

integrate personal values and social demands (Rogers,

1951). If sex roles do not correspond with what people

think of themselves, with what they think others want

them to be, and with what they ideally would like to be,

psychological conflict results.

There are many concepts and perceptions that

people believe about themselves and the opposite sex which

affect their behavior in society. Women choose to be in

a subordinate position, but that choice may not be a

free, intelligent, educated one (Tibbetts, 1975). Women

fear not being feminine; yet having traditional feminine

traits is not accompanied by high self-esteem (Baruch,

1974). When each is asked to describe his own sex, men

emphasize desirable, positive characteristics while women

tend to criticize themselves and express unfavorable

traits. Because women do not respect themselves, a woman

who breaks out of her traditional role may lose rather

than gain the respect of her fellow females (Hacker,


This loss of respect is separate from the marginal

position in which the nontraditional female finds her-

self when she tries to enter a traditionally male terri-

tory. Some men are threatened by this rivalry and will

use economic, legal and/or ideological weapons to elim-

inate and reduce the competition and conflict (Rosen &

Jerdee, 1975). The woman, feeling this tension within

herself, and in her relations with the people around her,

both male and female, may retreat easily to her tradi-

tionally feminine role which serves much like a womb--

warm and comfortable, but restricting.

Rose (1951) found that men are self-determined

while women determine themselves by reference to men.

To study whether women have a less adequate expectation


of themselves, he chose subjects from similar socioec-

onomic backgrounds. In such a group Rose found that

men were more independent in their choosing of marriage,

number of children and out-of-home activities. Although

the women polled expected to spend larger amounts of

time at home and rear larger families, their answers

were very dependent on choices to be made by the men in

their lives. The women who chose a career along with

homemaking, when asked to estimate how many hours a day

they spend in various activities, discovered that their

proposed day exceeded the 24 hours allotted to them.

This gave credence to the career women's feeling that

they were unable to accomplish all they hoped. Komisar

(1970) concurred with Rose that men have a greater sense

of self than women; and that while marriage is one aspect

of a male's life, it is usually the major focus of the

female's life.

Vavrick and Jurick (1971) reported a high correla-

tion between a man's attitude toward himself and his

attitude toward others. Male upper classmen and gradu-

ate students responded to Thematic Apperception Test

cards and were scored for self-concept and attitude

toward their wives' characters. The females could be

viewed as whole persons, as being somewhat stereotyped,

or as sex objects. Ninety-four percent of the males


scoring high in self-concept perceived females as whole

persons or being only slightly stereotyped, while 85 of

those with poor self-images thought of females as pri-

marily sex objects. None of the subjects scoring low in

self-concept thought of females as whole persons. Thus,

the male who views women as sex objects may also suffer

from a low self-image.

The number of conflicts that women experience

involving nonhome roles tends to decrease if the women

perceive the male's stereotype of femininity to be

patient, supportive and unemotional (Gordon & Hall,

1974). Women who work sense a greater difference between

their self-image and that of feminine women. In the male

dominated environment outside the home women perceive

that males have a more stereotypic standard of femininity.

Therefore, a woman's public self is more likely to con-

form to the stereotype than her private self.

Athanassiades (1977) reported differences among the self-

concept, public self and the perceptions of the female

stereotype. He suggested that the female stereotype is

not internalized, but acts as an external constraint on

the behavior of females. The counselor must be aware

of this societal constraint in a counseling situation.

The objectives of counseling should be to modify modes

of thinking to help the female make choices consistent


with personally established values rather than choices

that simply conform to society (Dellas & Gaier, 1975).

A woman's sense of identity is a reflection of

her role as wife and mother. O'Connell (1976) studied

87 middle class college educated women who were classi-

fied either traditional, neotraditional or nontradi-

tional (see definitions). The neotraditional and tradi-

tional women perceived their identity as comparatively

stronger and in more personal terms at the stage when

their children were in school than at earlier stages in

the life cycle. As child bearing duties diminish, the

focus of their identity became more internal and per-

sonal. The nontraditional women perceived their iden-

tity as comparatively strong at all stages of the life


Competition by women with males is considered

taboo in our society. Hauts and Entwisle (1968) sug-

gested that for achievement motivation to be manifested

in performance, women must perceive their goals accept-

able within the female role. With ability held con-

stant Hauts and Entwisle found that if masculine com-

petitive behavior was deemed appropriate for the female

role, there was a positive relationship between achieve-

ment attitude and school grades. Hacker (1957) found

that men accepted women on the greatest level of


intimacy, wifehood, but not at the level as associate or

partner; and the excelling of the male over the female

in college was due to the female's acceptance of the

inferior role assigned to her. The more likely a girl

was to accept the traditional female role, the more

likely she would enter into noncompetitive disciplines.

The female mathematics/science major tended to be more

career oriented than the liberal arts major. The

career-oriented female had a greater need for inde-

pendence while her desire for submissiveness was less

evident (Cross, 1968; Astin, 1968).

What is implied by this phenomenon is that there

is a personality variable that differentiates career

versus home-oriented females. The working women of

today have intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivations

to work. Personality factors are as important as finan-

cial factors (Wolfe, 1969; Ohlsen, 1968). This is not

to imply that women need not work for money and survival.

Seltzer (1975) reported that students were con-

sidering more diverse roles. She hypothesized that

freshmen women would be more utilitarian and accepting

of change and innovation in role orientation than upper

class women because they had less anxiety about not

being married and also had experienced more exposure to

the feminist movement. She found that the freshmen


were only slightly less traditional. She suggested

that more alternatives needed to be presented to women

early in their schooling and that counselors should

present these alternatives positively.

Nontraditional females were more likely to have

received counseling in their education (Ginzberg, 1966;

Astin, 1968; Ginzberg & Yohalem, 1966). Properly timed

awareness of alternatives can be decisive in securing

students' maximum use of abilities without great waste

of human and material resources. Males need to be

encouraged to assume more helping roles while women

need to assume more leadership positions and better use

of their mechanical and technical aptitudes (Rieder,

1978). Students recognize the need for counseling,

expressing sentiments much like this female student who

dropped out from a school before taking her oral exam-

ination for a doctorate:

It occurs to me that some kind of counseling
on the campus would perhaps have shown me
what I couldn't perceive myself. My graduate
adviser certainly tried to be helpful.
But he was one of the very people whose every
concern was making me feel more and more
idiotic and embarrassed and making it all the
harder for me to pass the orals Had
I known of any disinterested person on cam-
pus whose function it was to hear and advise
on such matters, I should have seen him
early. As it was, I ended simply by running
away. (Ginzberg, 1966, p. 43)


Women of all levels of skill need encouragement to dev-

elop this wide range of aptitudes. They must know the

outlets available to them.

Sex role confusion is not only a problem for

females. Both men and women adjust their lives toward

what they think is desirable to the opposite sex. Coun-

selors are sought to facilitate this adjustment process.

However, to achieve such adjustment, one must know what

the opposite sex desires.

Steinmann and Fox (1966) and Steinmann, Fox and

Forkas (1968) conducted two studies, one on male and

female perceptions of the female sex role and the other

on male and female perceptions of the male sex role.

The first study included 837 women and 423 men, in an

age range from late teens through seventies and with the

majority age under 40. They used the Inventory of Fem-

inine Values which contains 34 statements, each of which

expresses a particular value or value judgement related

to a woman's activities and satisfaction. Half of the

items defined a self-achieving woman as one who con-

siders her own satisfactions as equally important with

those of her husband and family and wished opportunities

to realize her latent talents. The other items defined

a family-oriented woman whose satisfactions came second

after husband and family and who considered her family

responsibilities as taking precedence over any potential

personal occupational activity.

The females responded to three forms of the

inventory: how they themselves felt, how their ideal

woman felt, and how they thought men would want a woman

to respond. Men responded to these items as they

thought their ideal woman would respond.

The responses were analyzed by the percentage of

same and different modal responses. The results indi-

cated that most women delineated a self-concept rela-

tively balanced between strivings and self-realization

and vicarious fulfillment through other-achieving or

intra-family strivings. The ideal woman, described by

the female subjects, was more active and achieved more

than the subjects themselves; but at the same time she

maintained her family and other indicia of the tradi-

tional female role. The women's perceptions of man's

ideal woman was a woman significantly accepting more of

a subordinated role in both personal development and the

familial structure.

The ideal woman delineated by men was a woman rel-

atively balanced and not significantly different from

the woman's own self-perceptions. Thus, there was a


discrepancy between what women thought men wanted and

what the men did, in fact, desire.

The second study (Steinmann, Fox & Forkas, 1968)

focused on the male. Using the Inventory of Male Val-

ues, the respondents could delineate a family-oriented

man who sought no status or position outside the family,

or a self-achieving man who considered his own satis-

faction of prime importance. The subjects were 441

males and 663 females with a wide variety of back-

grounds. The men answered three forms: self-perception,

their ideal man, and what they thought a woman would

answer in terms of her ideal man. Women responded first

in terms of their ideal man, and, second, as to how they

thought a man would answer the inventory.

Male self-perception was relatively balanced to

the two extremes of the inventory. Their ideal man was

more active and self-assertive than they judged them-

selves. The male's perceptions of the woman's ideal man

was more family-oriented than either male's self-percep-

tions of his ideal man. The woman's ideal man was more

self-achieving than man's self-image but almost identi-

cal to the ideal man that men described for themselves.

Women described their ideal man as active and self-

assertive, but assumed that other men were more self-

achieving than their ideal man.


The two studies show that while both sexes had the

same ideal image for each sex, neither sex had a percep-

tion of how the other felt. The researchers concluded

that sex role confusion exists for both men and women.

Communication is the necessary link and counselors need

to be aware of their biases and attitudes in order to

facilitate communications between the sexes.

Rosenkrantz, Vogel, Bee, Broverman and Broverman

(1968) used a 122-item Sex Role Questionnaire to study

the relationship of self-concept to differentially

valued sex role stereotypes in male and female college

students. The 36-item Sex Role Questionnaire used in

this research is a shorter form of the same question-

naire developed for the Rosenkrantz et al. (1968) study.

Because of the questionnaire's significance in later

research and in the present study, the process by which

it was developed merits more extensive discussion.

The Sex Role Questionnaire was developed because

the researchers believed that many of the traditional

masculinity/femininity scales, such as the California

Psychological Inventory, were based on traditional

notions of sex-appropriate behavior that were no longer

relevant. The researchers' concerns were related to

the traits and behaviors currently assigned to men and

women. Approximately 100 men and women enrolled in

three undergraduate psychology classes were asked to


list all the characteristics, behaviors and attributes

on which they thought men and women differed. In the

responses, 122 items had appeared at least twice, and

these 122 items were selected for inclusion into the

questionnaire. The items spanned a wide range of con-

tent, including interpersonal sensitivity, emotionality,

aggressiveness, dependence, independence, maturity,

intelligence, activity level and gregariousness.

Rather than having subjects select from a list of

those traits which characterize men and those traits

which characterize women, as was the method of previous

studies (Fernberger, 1948; Sherriffs & Jarrett, 1953;

Sherriffs & McKee, 1957), Rosenkrantz et al. (1968)

conceptualized sex role stereotypes according to the

degree to which men and women were perceived to possess

any one particular trait. Therefore, the 122 items were

put in a bipolar form with the two poles separated by 60


Both male and female subjects were given the Sex

Role Questionnaire with instructions to indicate the

extent to which each item characterized an adult man

(masculinity response) and the adult woman (femininity

response) and themselves (self-response). The order of

presentation of masculinity and femininity instructions

was reversed for approximately half the subjects. How-

ever, the self-instructions were always given last so

as to obtain self-descriptions within a masculinity/

femininity context.

The concept of sex role stereotype implies extens-

ive agreement among people as to the characteristic dif-

ferences between men and women. Those items on which at

least 75% agreement existed between the subjects of each

sex (80 college women and 74 college men) as to which

pole was more descriptive of the average man than the

average woman and vice versa were termed stereotypic.

Forty-one items met this criterion. Correlated t tests

were computed between the average masculinity and the

average femininity response to each of the items; on

each the difference was significant (p > .001) in both

the samples of men and women.

Forty-eight of the remaining items had differences

in each sample between the average masculinity response

and the average femininity response which were signifi-

cant beyond the .05 level of confidence, but the agree-

ment as to the direction of difference was less than 75%.

These were termed differentiating items. The remaining

33 were termed nondifferentiating items.

The Sex Role Questionnaire was later reduced to 82

items. It consisted of 76 items taken from the original

form plus six new items. Approximately 1000 subjects,

ages ranging from 17 to 54 and from varied religious,

educational and social backgrounds, filled out the

original questionnaire, using these standard instruc-


We would like to know something about
what people expect other people to be like.
Imagine that you are going to meet someone
for the first time, and the only thing that
you know in advance is that he is an adult
male. What sort of things would you expect?
For example, what would you expect about his
liking or disliking of the color of red? On
each scale put a slash and the letter "M"
above the slash according to what you t~hnk
the adult male is like.

The questionnaire has three sets of instructions:

Male (M), Female (F) and Adult (A). The (F) and (A)

instructions simply substitute the words "woman" or

"adult" for the word "male." The 82-item form contained

those stereotypic concepts on which the agreement among

the subjects that a pole reflects masculine rather than

feminine behavior or vice versa differed from chance at

the .02 level of confidence. Consensuality for the six

new items was found in smaller samples.

In 1974, the Sex Role Questionnaire was reduced to

36 items, 24 male-valued (MV) (competency) items and 12

female-valued (FV) (warmth, expressiveness) items. This

was the same ratio of competency to warmth items as was

in the 82-item form. The item selection was based on

responses from 1051 women and 763 men. All subjects

were paid volunteers who filled out the 82-item form.

They varied in marital status, education (seventh grade


to doctoral level), age (17 to 54), religion and employ-

ment status.

The percent of subjects who agreed that men had

more of a particular trait than women or vice versa was

computed for each of the 82 items. All items on which

there were less than 60% agreement in either the male or

female sample were discarded. Correlated t tests

between the ratings of men and the ratings of women for

each item were computed separately for the male and

female samples. Items on which the t did not reach the

5% level of confidence were discarded. Twelve FV items

and 35 MV items met the criterion of 60% agreement in

both the sample of men and the sample of women. To main-

tain the same MV to FV ratio of the 82-item form, the MV

items were reduced to 24 by eliminating items with lower

levels of agreement.

Correlations between the 82-item form and the 36-

item form were computed for a variety of samples. These

correlations were significant (p < .001) and very high,

ranging from a low of .901 to .950 for the MV responses

and from .852 to .936, for the FV responses. Thus, the

36-item version of the Sex Role Questionnaire seems to

measure the same dimension as the long form of that


Rosenkrantz et al. (1968) hypothesized that if any

group of women was to reject sex role stereotypes,


college women would be most likely to do so. A group of

74 college men and 80 college women completed the 122-

item Sex Role Questionnaire three times. The first two

times the questionnaire was completed under male and

female directions respectively, and the third time the

students marked what they thought were themselves. Thus,

for each student there was a masculine, feminine and

self-concept score. The result of the Rosenkrantz study

indicated that sex role stereotypes were defined clearly,

and there was a surprising level of agreement among the

groups of college men and women as to these stereotypes.

Both college men and women agreed that the masculine

characteristics were more socially desirable than the

feminine ones. In addition, the self-concepts of col-

lege men and women were very similar to their respective

stereotypes. Rosenkrantz et al. (1968) concluded that

the factors which produced the self-incorporation of the

female stereotype, along with its negative valuation,

must be enormously powerful since these college women

were enlightened, carefully selected females who in

general were at least the intellectual equals of their

male peers.

Lunneborg (1970) administered the Edwards Person-

ality Inventory to college students, asking them to pre-

dict the answers most men (or women) would give. These

stereotyped instructions resulted in exaggerated existing

sex differences on eight scales and created differences

on five scales that males and females normally did not

acknowledge. The sex of the student made no difference

in the assessment; males described females in the same

way as females described other females.

Deutsch and Gilbert (1976) found that women's sex

role concepts regarding real and ideal self and their

beliefs about what men desire were highly dissimilar.

Conversely, males' perceptions in the same area were quite

congruent. Deutsch and Gilbert reported that the average

college undergraduate woman's self-concept was that she

was slightly feminine, desiring to be more androgenous,

but believing she would be more desirable to males if

she behaved in a more feminine manner. The same

researchers suggested that the acquisition of masculine

traits by females might be adjustive in the social con-

text of a male-oriented culture. Males do not need to

adopt feminine traits to be adjusted to a masculine

society. The authors expressed hope that counselors

would avoid biases that would result in keeping the

woman client "in her place" when "her place" might

include maladjustment and dissatisfaction.

Counselors and Sex Role

Just as sex role research has concentrated on the

female, the majority of studies examining counselors and


sex role stereotyping also has centered on the female

counselee. The American Psychological Association

(Brodsky & Holroyd, 1975) in a Report of the Task Force

on Sex Bias and Sex Role Stereotyping in Psychothera-

peutic Practice warns that "at a minimum the therapist

must be aware of his own values and not impose them on

his patients. Beyond that, they have a responsibility

for evaluating the mental health implications of these

values" (p. 1169).

Thomas (1967) researched counselors' perceptions

of acceptance, appropriateness of vocational goals and

need for further counseling for female clients who

showed interests in traditionally masculine (deviate)

goals compared to females who showed interest in femin-

ine (conforming) vocational goals. His subjects were

62 secondary school counselors in suburban St. Paul,

Minnesota. Thomas reported that female counselors

showed a greater acceptance toward all clients than did

male counselors, regardless of the purported vocational

goal. Male counselors perceived a higher need for coun-

seling for all clients. This need for additional coun-

seling was less affected by the addition of vocational

choice. All counselors rated conforming goals as more

appropriate for females; and furthermore, female clients

with deviate goals were perceived as needing more coun-

seling than those with conforming goals.


Schlossberg and Pietrofesa (1973) reported that

both men and women counseling practicum students

expressed negative bias toward female clients who con-

sidered entering a nontraditional occupational field.

The counselors made more negative statements to clients

who aspired to male-dominated vocations, and their neg-

ative comments centered around the masculinity of the

occupation chosen by the deviate female clients.

Smith (1973) disputed Schlossberg and Pietrofesa's

methodology and Smith (1974) reported that there was no

significant sexual or ethnic discrimination among coun-

selors in her study. She asked secondary school coun-

selors to predict academic success and to choose an

appropriate career for four hypothetical cases. Varia-

tions in client sex and ethnic designation did not pro-

duce variations in counselor evaluations. The sex of

the counselors was not related to any pattern or system-

atic variance in evaluation. Abramowitz, Weitz, and

Schwartz (1975), however, confirmed the assertion that

counselor bias exists against women entering masculine

fields. Their research indicated that the more experi-

enced and traditional counselors exhibited greater lev-

els of prejudice. In fact, traditional counselors

relied more on assessments of maladjustment in their

counseling of clients, regardless of sex, to explain

the clients' problems.


Bingham and House (1974) surveyed counselors' atti-

tudes and factual knowledge of women and work. They

found no difference between older and younger counselors'

knowledge of factual items. However, younger counselors

expressed a slightly more favorable attitude about women

assuming a working role in conjunction with homemaking.

Women counselors were better informed and had more fav-

orable attitudes about women and work.

Hill (1975) reported that inexperienced counselors,

both male and female, were more empathic and elicited

more of the clients' feelings with same-sex clients.

She hypothesized that when counselors are in training

they feel better able to identify with persons whose

experiences are similar to their own. With opposite-sex

clients, inexperienced counselors talked more about their

own feelings. Experienced counselors (both male and

female) paired with same-sex clients concentrated more

on clients' feelings and were more empathic. These same

counselors paired with opposite-sex clients were more

directive and active. Hill reported that prior to coun-

seling, most clients preferred male counselors, perhaps

due to the expectation of authority and prestige. How-

ever, after having received therapy, clients of female

counselors expressed more satisfaction with their coun-

seling session than clients of male counselors. The

results of the study indicated that the most empathic,


active and satisfying counselors were experienced

females and inexperienced males. Hill suggests that

perhaps females need to gain experience before they feel

confident in their skills. Males may lose interest in

counseling skills, once acquired, and may move on to

other areas of interest, more suited to sex role activi-

ties, such as administration and research.

Ahrons (1976) used 204 males and 85 female public

school counselors as subjects to determine if there

were differences in the perceptions of career images of

women. She reported that the male and female counselors

showed no significant difference in their perceptions.

The "career man" concept clustered similarly to other

male concepts, while the "career woman" concept did not

cluster with other female concepts. Thus, inferentially,

the counselors perceived career goals as incompatible

with the traditional feminine roles of wife and mother.

The counselors expected females to experience conflict

in their vocational choices. Because of the congruency

of the male concepts, however, the counselors did not

expect males to experience any such conflict. The

author concluded that women still were considered devi-

ate if they chose not to adhere to the traditional fem-

inine role.

Donahue and Costar (1977) reported that counselors

discriminated in career selections for women. The

researchers investigated 300 high school counselors in

Michigan. Half of the subjects were males and half

females. Two forms of six case studies were presented

to the counselors. The only difference in the forms was

that one presented a woman client while the other

depicted a male client. For each case study, the sub-

jects were asked to select the most appropriate occupa-

tion from a list of 28 possibilities. The counselors

chose different occupations for the male and female case

studies. The occupations chosen for the female were

lower paying, more supervised and required less educa-

tion. Neither the age nor the sex of counselor appeared

statistically significant, but the interaction of age and

sex was significant. Female counselors over 40 years old

discriminated the most. Males over 40 years of age

discriminated least. Females under 40 discriminated less

than males under 40. Another significant factor was the

size of the community where the counselor worked: The

larger the population of the community, the less the


Women constitute the majority of those receiving

psychiatric therapy, both in hospitals and outpatient

facilities (Levin, Kamin & Levin, 1974; Chesler, 1972).

Chesler (1972) suggested that the consistently higher

rates of mental illness for females and the higher num-

ber of diagnoses of non-sex-linked mental illness may be


a function of a diagnostic bias by mental health pro-

fessionals. It is possible that the therapist's pre-

conceived notions may influence labeling and promote

the high incidence of observed mental illness in women

(Wesley, 1975). Chesler (1971) maintained that females

diagnosed as neurotics were really victims of societal

demands and discrimination. She reported that these

women were neither "sick" nor "mentally ill," and that

both marriage and therapy are socially approved insti-

tutions that maintain control over women.

Chesler (1972) interviewed 60 women about their

experiences in psychiatric hospitals and private out-

patient therapy. She concluded that in psychotherapy,

women are rewarded for dependent behavior and are encour-

aged to adopt traditional female stereotypes. She sug-

gested that clinicians, most of whom are men, treated

their clients, most of whom are women, as "wives" or

"daughters" rather than as people. They reinforced the

traditionally feminine characteristics of dependence,

submission and acceptance. Women's inability to adjust

to feminine roles has been considered as a deviation

from "natural" female psychology rather than an indica-

tion of the impropriety of such stereotyping.

An opinion article by Houck (1972) in the American

Journal of Psychiatry on how to manage the "intractable

female patient" presents a graphic example of how female


psychology is interpreted by male professionals stereo-

typically. This intractable female patient "is not

easily governed, managed or directed; obstinate; not

easily manipulated or wrought; not easily relieved or

cured" (p. 27). Houck reported that this type of patient

wants to be controlled and it is the doctor's duty to

control her. Houck also proposed that the most import-

ant part of the treatment was to help the husband assume

control of the family and the female client. Houck

associated mental illness with a woman's inability (or

refusal) to function in the stereotypic role.

The differential valuations of behaviors and char-

acteristics stereotypically ascribed to men and women

are well established. Masculine traits often are per-

ceived as more socially desirable than feminine traits.

Kogan, Quinn, Ax and Ripley (1957) reported that a high

correlation (< .89) exists between the variable of (psy-

chological) health-sickness, and the variables of social

desirability. Social desirability had a greater influence

on personality assessment than any other factor related

to the kinds of people. Findings by Kogan et al. (1957)

were based on data provided by Q sorts of 24 hospital-

ized adult male psychiatric patients and 24 male uni-

versity students screened and assessed as having no

psychiatric difficulties. Each item was classified as to

its personality variable by six clinicians who served as


judges. The clinicians also sorted the Q array with

respect to health-sickness and social desirability var-

iables. The variable described as health-sickness was

indistinguishable from social desirability.

Cowen (1961) related social desirability to dif-

ferent concepts of mental health and found that the

social desirabilities of behavior related to "normality-

abnormality" are correlated. Those behaviors that col-

lege students considered to be of low social desirabil-

ity correlated positively with how clinicians concep-

tualized abnormality. Cowen warns that social desir-

ability stereotypes contaminate clinicians' assessment

of normality. Weiner, Blumberg, Sigman and Cooper

(1959), using a Q sort, found a high correlation between

concepts of social desirability and adjustment. Social

acceptability of a person's behavior seems to be a major

determinant in assessing a level of adjustment.

Aslin (1974) reported that there was a significant

relationship between psychotherapists' judgement of men-

tal health and social desirability. She stated that the

socially desirable pole equaled the description of the

mental health pole. Counselors who perceived themselves

as helping clients free themselves from sex role stereo-

types judged mentally healthy males and females in simi-

lar terms. However, those counselors who were not com-

mitted specifically to working with women and


stereotypes judged women differently from men or nonsex

specified adults.

The relationship between social desirability and

concepts of mental health gains more importance when the

relationship between social desirability and masculine,

as opposed to feminine characteristics, also is con-

sidered. As reported earlier, a study by Broverman et

al. (1970) has become a landmark in the area of clinical

perceptions of sex role stereotyping. These researchers

hypothesized that clinicians would maintain parallel dis-

tinctions in their concept of what, behaviorally, is

healthy or pathological when considering men versus women

and that the clinical judgements about the traits char-

acterizing healthy mature individuals will differ as a

function of the sex of the person judged.

The subjects for this study were 79 clinically

trained psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers

(46 men, 33 women) who functioned in clinical settings.

The ages varied between23 and 55 and their experience

ranged from internship to extensive professional prac-


The subjects were given the Sex Role Questionnaire

with one of three sets of instructions: "male,"

"female" or "adult." The "male" instructions stated

"think of a normal, adult man and then indicate on each

item the pole to which a mature, healthy, socially


competent adult man would be closest." The "female" and

"adult" instructions differed in that the words "woman"

and "adult" were substituted for the word "man."

Responses to the adult instructions were considered indi-

cative of ideal health patterns, without respect to sex.

The subjects were asked to consider opposing poles of

each item as direction rather than extremes of behavior.

T tests were used to compare scores of male clini-

cians and female clinicians. None of the tests was signi-

ficant. Both the male and female clinicians agreed on

the behaviors and attributes characteristic of a healthy

man, a healthy woman and a healthy adult independent of

sex; and these assessments parallelled the sex role

stereotypes prevalent in society. They found that clin-

icians' concepts of a healthy man did not differ signifi-

cantly from their concept of a healthy adult. However,

their concept of a healthy woman did differ significantly

from their concept of a healthy adult. It was deter-

mined that, from the viewpoint of societally acceptable

behavior, a woman must accept the norms of her sex even

though these behaviors are considered, in general, to be

less socially desirable and less healthy for the nonsex

specifically competent mature adult.

Neulinger, Schillinger, Stein and Welkowitz (1970)

reported differences in the responses of 114 therapists

to questions about the optimally integrated persons.

Analyses of a personality questionnaire based on Murray's

need system revealed that female therapists described

achievement as more necessary for men than for women.

Male therapists rated abasement as more necessary for

women than did female therapists. In general, the sub-

jects rated dominance, achievement, autonomy, aggres-

sion and counteraction as more indicative of mental

health in men than in women; while patience, nurturance,

play, deference, succorance and abasement were rated as

greater needs for the optimally integrated females than

for males.

Nowacki and Poe (1973) investigated the generaliz-

ability of the Broverman et al. (1970) findings that

there is a difference in the concept of mental health

for a male and a female. They administered both the Sex

Role Questionnaire and the Poe and Matias Semantic Dif-

ferential to college students. On both scales they

reported a difference between the mean rating for a men-

tally healthy male and female; they also found a differ-

ence between the rating made by male and female college

students. This latter result is different from the

Broverman et al. findings.

Lewittes, Moselle and Simmons (1973) studied sex

role biases in clinical assessments based on Rorschach

interpretations of 22 male and 22 female psychologists

who indicated projective tests as one of their areas of


interest. Each subject received the same Rorschach pro-

tocol; half the subjects were told that the protocol was

of a 26-year old female and half were told that it was of

a 26-year male. When the psychologists were judging

degree of pathology or intellectual functioning, no dif-

ference was found. However, both sexes tended to be

biased in favor of their own sex when making clinical

judgements. Compared to the Broverman et al. (1970)

study, female clinicians in the Lewittes, Moselle, and

Simmons (1973) study demonstrated greater pro-female

bias, while male clinicians showed less negative female


Goldberg (1973) studied the attitudes towards women

of 184 urban practicing clinical psychologists. All sub-

jects completed questionnaires concerning attitudes

toward men and women in general, the mental health stand-

ards for men and women and the mental health standards

for adults in general. Also investigated were the sub-

jects' attitudes towards men and women who needed psycho-

therapy. The data were analyzed according to age, sex

and experience level of the subjects. While the results

did not reveal markedly prejudicial sex-linked attitudes,

differences appeared between some groupings. Younger

female therapists were the least likely to express the

traditional view of women while older male therapists

were most likely to maintain the traditional female


stereotype. Women therapists, in general, perceived

men and women more equally than male therapists.

Goldberg concluded that the expressed attitudes of clin-

ical psychologists toward men and women are multifaceted

and complex and that simple statements of unqualified

prejudice against women among this population were


Duplicating the Broverman et al. (1970) study with

90 counselors "in training" (45 male and 45 female),

Maslin and Davis (1975) found that males continued to

maintain somewhat more stereotypic standards of mental

health for females than for males or adults. Female

counselors "in training" perceived all healthy persons

similarly regardless of sex. Maslin and Davis confirmed

the Broverman et al. (1970) findings that professional

concepts of mental health for adults were in accord with

nonprofessional ideas of socially desirable traits. How-

ever, unlike subjects in the previous research, males and

females disagreed in their expectations of healthy

females. One possible explanation cited was that the

feminist movement has had a greater effect on women than


Fabrikant (1974) supported the Broverman et al.

(1970) findings of a double standard of mental health for

men and women. Male characteristics were considered to

be positively valued while female characteristics had a


negative value. Fabrikant concluded that patients and

therapists alike maintained many of the same stereo-

types, and women who accepted female stereotypes for

themselves found that they behaved in norms that were

substandard for mature adults. However, there was some

change in the traditional preference of women for men

as their therapists (Fabrikant, 1974). Simons and Helms

(1976) reported most college women preferred male coun-

selors; but when the counselors stated that their

specialty was women's problems, female counselors were

preferred. Women therapists perhaps would understand

better the needs of women clients.

Cowan (1976) studied sex roles associated with

problems in therapy rather than those associated with

judgements of healthy persons. She mailed the Broverman

Sex Role Questionnaire to 115 psychologists and asked to

what extent they thought one of two poles represented a

greater problem for the female client and to what

extent, for the male client. Thus, a client who had a

high score on feminine traits would be viewed as being

too feminine. She found the adult standards were being

applied to women. Women in therapy were considered too

feminine. However, male problems were not assessed on

the sex role dimension. The possibility that male prob-

lems might result from being too masculine was not indi-

cated. Therapists suggested that female-valued traits

such as gentleness and tact were problems for female

clients. Women in therapy were too gentle, tactful,

etc. Therefore, it cannot be concluded that because

healthy females are expected to be less independent

and aggressive than the healthy male, therapists per-

ceive female clients as too independent and too aggres-

sive and want them to become more dependent and passive.

Billingsley (1977) investigated the extent to

which a pseudo-client's sex and the presenting problem

influenced the treatment goal choices of practicing male

and female therapists. She reported that the male and

female therapists chose different treatment goals for

the client with the males choosing more feminine treat-

ment goals and vice versa. She concluded that the main

considerations in choosing treatment goals were the

client's pathology and the counselor's sex, and that

client's sex was only a secondary consideration.

Meanwhile, Hill, Tanney and Leonard (1977) reported

that high school counselors' reactions to female clients

varied according to age, problem type, client's age and

counselor sex. As compared to women with vocational/

educational problems, women with personal/social prob-

lems were considered as having more problems, able to

profit more from counseling, desirable to work with,

needing more counseling and receiving more empathy.

In general, counselors perceived that older women needed

more support than younger ones. Female counselors found

younger women experiencing existential anxiety more seri-

ous than older women experiencing anxiety. Male coun-

selors did not differentiate according to age. When

treating two educational/vocational decisions, one being

traditional and one nontraditional, the counselors per-

ceived no difference in dilemmas. This contrasts sharply

with Thomas and Stewart (1971) who reported that coun-

selors perceived women wanting nontraditional careers as

having the greater problem.

There are little data available on how sex role

stereotyping specifically affects the counseling situa-

tion. Some indications of differential treatment were

found by Fabrikant (1974) who reported that female

patients were in therapy more than twice as long as male

patients. Fabrikant concluded that "the overall results

most strongly support the feminist viewpoint that females

in therapy are victimized by a social structure and

therapeutic philosophy that keeps them dependent for as

long as possible" (p. 96).

Sex role stereotyping can prove detrimental to men

in therapy as well as women. What often draws men to

the counseling situation is an opportunity to express

aspects of their sexuality not readily reinforced in

other areas (Nelson & Segrist, 1975). If the counselor

also perceived the traditional stereotype as desirable,

male clients may experience further rejection. To the

extent that women must become increasingly liberated

from their roles, it is required that to the same degree,

men must discover new ways of being (Ferreira, 1974).

Only if a male can consider it safe to expose his com-

plete self to his peers, can he begin to translate his

whole self into daily behavior.


The amount of literature concerning sex role

research has been increasing, but results have been

inconclusive. Before 1970, men and women were presumed

to have different personality characteristics and any

deviance from the assigned role was opposed vigorously

by society as a whole and counselors in particular. Men-

tal health was considered a successful adjustment to one's

environment, and it was reported that the early acquisi-

tion of gender identity would promote this adjustment.

However, recent research has indicated some potential

disadvantages to sex role identification.

Because the male stereotype tends to be regarded

more positively, it is not surprising that the research

has shown women to have more negative self-concepts than

men. Sex role stereotyping has repressed and confused

the vocational aspirations of females, caused psychic

conflict regarding achievement and mental health, and

has contributed to devaluation by females of their sex

(Maslin & Davis, 1975).

Despite the avowed commitment by the helping pro-

fession to the goal of optimal development of each indi-

vidual, mental health professionals have reinforced sex

role stereotyping. Their past perceptions have delineated

separate characteristics for men and women. Counselors

have had negative reactions to counselees who have not

conformed to the appropriate sex role stereotype.

Community college counselors may practice sex role

stereotyping similar to that prevalent in society. On

the other hand, it may be that the traditional social

desirability represented by the positive evaluation of

male characteristics is being replaced by the recogni-

tion among therapists of the harm which may occur when

clients are sexually stereotyped. Only through current

investigations can this be determined.


This study was accomplished through a descriptive

or exploratory method of research which compared sys-

tematically how male and female community college coun-

selors perceive males and females, compared to nonsex

specified adults. In addition, it was the degree of

the relationship that would have been determined, if any

correlation existed between the age of counselors and

their perceptions of sex role stereotypes. The purpose

of a descriptive study is to accumulate a data base or

describe phenomena. It does not necessarily explain

relationships or make predictions.

Description of the Sample

The subjects for this study were counselors from

southeastern urban community colleges. As mentioned in

Chapter I, it was felt that the impact of the women's

movement would be stronger in the urban areas; and if

change had begun to occur, it would manifest itself

first in urban areas. Donahue and Costar (1977)

reported that high school counselors who worked in urban

areas attributed higher esteem to women and were less

likely to discriminate.


For this study a community college was defined as

a public two-year institution offering comprehensive

programs at the freshman and sophomore levels. These

community colleges offered, in addition, various tech-

nical, occupational and diploma and other nondegree

programs. As indicated in Chapter I, this research

was limited to the community colleges located in urban

areas of the states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Miss-

issippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee

(Appendix F). An area was considered urban if it was a

large Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA),

as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau

of the Census (1977). A large SMSA is a metropolitan

area with an estimated population of 200,000 or more as

of July 1, 1975. Of the 159 large SMSA's in the United

States, 30 are located in the seven southeastern states

selected for this research; and 29 community colleges

are located within these 30 areas.

For the purpose of this study, a counselor was

defined as a person working full time for the community

college student affairs department. The counselors had

to have at least a master's degree and spend at least 50%

of their workload in either face-to-face relationships

with students or in consultation with other personnel

about students. An administrator in each of the com-

munity colleges was asked to provide a list of the


counselors satisfying the above criteria. By this

method, 195 counselors were identified and mailed the

sex role questionnaires, a demographic questionnaire and

a cover letter (Appendix D). The acceptable number of

usable questionnaires for statistical purposes was set

at 100. Of the 195 questionnaires disseminated, 167

(85.6%) were returned and of these 149 (76.4%) were

usable. Eleven subjects were eliminated because they

did not meet the counselor criteria specified. There-

fore, there were 184 counselors meeting the criteria.

Another seven subjects were eliminated because they did

not complete correctly the questionnaire. There were

87 male counselors and 62 female counselors whose ques-

tionnaires were usable (80.9% of the actual number of

counselors who met the criteria).

Data Collection

A letter (Appendix A) was sent to the appropriate

administrator at each college to explain the study and

ask permission to conduct this research at his institu-

tion. The administrator was asked to designate one per-

son (the "contact person") to be responsible for the

dissemination and collection of the questionnaires. The

number of counselors meeting the criteria listed above

was requested; a stamped,self-addressed post card was

provided (Appendix A). If a community college did not

respond within one month, a follow-up letter was sent

(Appendix B). The telephone was used as an additional

method to improve data collection. The length of time

for data collection originally had been set for six

weeks; but since this research spanned a time when many

colleges were closed for spring break, total data col-

lection time was extended to two months.

Of the 29 community college administrators con-

tacted, 23 responded affirmatively and the counselors

on their staff participated in this study. One commun-

ity college administration refused participation and

five never responded.

The contact person was mailed Sex Role Question-

naires equal to the number of counselors designated on

the staff, a cover letter (Appendix C) which included

directions for the dissemination and collection of the

questionnaires, and a stamped, self-addressed envelope

for return of the questionnaires.

The Sex Role Questionnaires were stacked alter-

nately by male, female and adult instructions so that

each institution received an equal number of question-

naires with each of the three instructions. Each coun-

selor completed only one form of the questionnaire.

Attached to the Sex Role Questionnaire was a letter

of introduction and a cover sheet (Appendix D) which


included a request for demographic data. The demographic

information requested was:

1. today's date;

2. sex of the counselor;

3. date of birth of the counselor;

4. marital status;

5. highest level of education;

6. date of last degree;

7. major areas of study for last degree; and

8. percent of work day spent in face-to-face

relationships with students or with other per-

sonnel concerning students.

The counselors were not told the purpose of this

research. There was no attempt to disguise the sex of

the investigator because Field (1975) reported that, in

sex role research, the sex of the investigator had no

effect on either response rate or response bias.

It was requested that the completed questionnaires

be returned within two weeks. Three weeks after the

mailing of the questionnaires, a follow-up call was made

to the contact person at each institution that had not

returned the questionnaires.


The development of the instrument used in this

research, the 36-item form of the Sex Role Questionnaire


produced by Rosenkrantz et al. (1968), has been pre-

sented in Chapter II. The Sex Role Questionnaire had

been employed successfully in many studies (Broverman

et al., 1970; Nowacki & Poe, 1973; Cowan, 1976).

The instrument was designed to provide indices of

current attitudes or perceptions. That the questionnaire

taps meaningful dimensions is attested to by a high con-

sistency of responses from individuals of diverse back-

grounds with respect to how they perceive men and women.

Individual differences in perceptions of sex differences

and self-concepts relate positively to such variables

as plans to seek education beyond college, plans to

combine employment with child rearing and maternal

employment (Broverman, Vogel, Broverman, Clarkson &

Rosenkrantz, 1972).

The items are classified as to which pole is

judged more socially desirable (Appendix E). On the

basis of previous studies, the female pole was judged

more socially desirable on 12 items. These female-

valued items compose a constellation which centers on

interpersonal warmth and emotional expressions and

includes such items as "tactful," "easily expressed

tender feelings" and'gentle." Earlier studies

(Rosenkrantz et al., 1968) indicated that these traits

were used more often to describe women than men.


The remaining 24 items form a cluster of traits

that reflect competency. Included in the "competency

cluster" are such attributes as independence, ambition,

aggression and logic. In previous studies it was deter-

mined that these traits were perceived more often as

characterizing men than women (Rosenkrantz et al., 1968).

To explore further the dimensions reflected by the

stereotypic items, factor analyses were performed sep-

arately on the masculinity and femininity responses in

both a sample of men and a sample of women (Broverman

et al., 1972). Each of the six analyses produced two

initial factors which accounted for an average of 61% of

the total extractable communality. In each of the

analyses, the first factor consisted of these stereotypic

items on which the male pole had been designated the

more socially desirable, while the second factor con-

sisted of items on which the female pole was the more

socially desirable. The results indicated that the

male-valued items and the female-valued items constitute

two orthogonal, independent dimensions of the stereo-


Each of the 36 items on the questionnaire is pre-

sented in bipolar form and is scored on a 60-point scale

ranging from 10 to 70. To aid in the analyses of the

data, the scores for the items which represent the

socially desirable pole that have a score of 10 were


transformed so that a high score always meant a more

socially desirable score.

No individual male or female score has any special

meaning. The mean of scores in the adult instructions

was the norm against which the male and female scores

are judged. This is based on the assumption that what

counselors consider to be healthy, mature, socially com-

petent for an adult (regardless of sex) reflects an

ideal standard. Male and female scores which did not

differ significantly from the mean of the adult were

considered to be representative of healthy, mature,

socially competent individuals. In addition to the Sex

Role Questionnaire, the counselors were asked to com-

plete the cover sheet which included requests for demo-

graphic data.

Data Analysis

The data collection process, previously described,

yielded two basic groupings of data: demographic vari-

ables and Sex Role Questionnaire scores. This research

focused on the demographic variables of sex and age of

the community college counselors and the relationship

each had to the perceptions of the male, female and


Broverman et al. (1970) employed t tests to ana-

lyze their data. However, this procedure has been


criticized because the use of t tests with multiple

comparisons often leads to excessive error rates

(Johnson & Jones, 1972). The error rate, using multiple

t tests, can increase to the point where the results

of the whole experiment become untenable. Consequently,

a preferable multiple comparison test is an analysis of

variance (ANOVA):

Multiple t tests carried out on the same
data overlap in the information they
provide and it is not easy to assess the
evidence for over-all existence of import-
ance of treatment effects from a complete
set of such differences ANOVA
packages the information in the data into
neat, distinct "bundles," permitting a rel-
atively simple judgement to be made about
the effects of the experimental treatments.
(Hays, 1963, p. 143)

The major concern of this research was to learn

what were counselors' perceptions of the male, the

female, and the adult and whether male and female coun-

selors' perceptions of males, females and adults differed

significantly. The data scores gleaned from the Sex Role

Questionnaire and the demographic data were analyzed,

using a 2 x 3 factorial design. The dependent variables

in a factorial design are arranged so that the effects of

each independent variable on the dependent variable are

assessed separately from every other independent variable

(Myers & Grossen, 1974). Each independent variable is

called a main variable. The term "main effect" refers to

a significant difference between the mean of one or more


levels of a main variable and the grand mean for that

variable. The joint effect of two or more independent

variables on a dependent variable is called an interac-

tion. To test the main effects, as well as the interac-

tion effects, a 2 x 3 completely randomized analysis of

variance was performed on the raw scores (Kirk, 1968).

Figure 1 is a diagram of this procedure.




MI--Instructed to describe males
FI--Instructed to describe females
AI--Instructed to describe adults
MC--Male Counselors
FC--Female Counselors

Figure 1. 2 x 3 Randomized Analysis of Variance

If the preliminary analysis of variance had shown

overall significance, a Newman-Keuls post hoc comparison

would have been performed (Ferguson, 1976, pp. 297-300).

The Newman-Keuls method uses the criterion that the

probability of rejecting the null hypothesis when it is

true should not exceed .01 or .05 for all ordered pairs,

regardless of the number of steps they are apart. A

comparison at the 95% confidence interval would be con-

sidered significant.

To determine if any correlation exists between

counselors' ages and counselors' perceptions of sex

role stereotypes, a Pearson r was performed. The use of

the Pearson r assumes that the population is symmetrical,

linear, unimodel; that both variables have been randomly

sampled from normally distributed populations and that

these populations have similar variances (Myers &

Grossen, 1974). The sample in this study satisfied

these criteria. Having calculated the Pearson r, the

results were tested for significance at the .05 level.

No attempt was made to analyze the scores on the

individual items in the Sex Role Questionnaire beyond

the computation of the mean, variance and standard devi-

ation for each of the items on each set of instructions.

These data are available in Appendix G for use in any

later investigation.


Since a deliberate sample limited to southeast

urban community college counselors was selected for

this study rather than a random sample from the entire

universe of community college counselors, the general-

izability of results should be limited to urban commun-

ity college counselors. Furthermore, the geographic

representation may limit the external validity of the

results obtained.


A second limitation lies in the instrumentation.

Because the counselors were asked to complete the Sex

Role Questionnaire, they were required to describe the

adult, male or female, with respect to only those dimen-

sions represented on the questionnaire. Consequently,

if the counselors' perception of the male, female or

adult included attributes other than those in the ques-

tionnaire, this information was not available to the

researcher. The results of this study will be specific

to the instruments used.


This chapter presents the data gathered by the Sex

Role Questionnaire and the demographic questionnaire

and discusses their treatment and analysis. Hypothesis

I was concerned with differences in perceptions between

male and female counselors of males, females and adults.

The analysis of variance, presented in Table 1, provides

an overall view of the findings.

An inspection of Table 1 reveals that the main

effect of sex was not found to be significant. Also

there was no significant difference (p < .05) in the

means of groups receiving male, female and adult instruc-

tions on the Sex Role Questionnaire. Because there was

no significant F ratio for either of the main effects,

no post hoc comparison was performed.

A further inspection of Table 1 reveals that the F

ratio for the interaction between sex and perceptions of

males, females and adults was significant at p < .05.

Since the interaction was significant, the further

analysis of the simple main effects was required.


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Table 2 indicates the differences in the mean

scores of female and male counselors for each set of

instructions. When instructed to describe the male,

male counselors scored higher than female counselors.

However, when female counselors were instructed to

describe the female and adult, they scored higher than

the male counselors. To find out whether the male and

female counselors' perceptions of the male, female and

adult differed significantly, further analysis of the

simple main effects was done.




MC 1601.60 1499.34 1486.66 1528.75

FC 1502.00 1544.78 1585.63 1540.74

TOTAL 1555.63 1530.39 1515.33

Relative to Hypothesis II, the results of Simple

Main Effect are shown in Table 3. Each of the interac-

tions was tested at a level of .01 (total error rate of

.03), and none of the interactions was significant. Each

of the interactions was also tested at a levels of .05

(total error rate of .15); two of the interactions were

significant. There was a significant interaction between


male and female counselors in their perceptions of the

male and also a significant difference between male and

female counselors in their perceptions of the adult.



Source SS MS df F

Sex at MI 128215.59 128215.59 1 6.09*

Sex at FI 25432.32 25432.32 1 1.21

Sex at AI 103855.35 103855.35 1 4.94*

within groups 3009373.47 21044.59 143

a .05,1,143=3.92

a .01,1,143=6.70

Hypotheses III and IV were concerned with the cor-

relation between ages of the counselors and their per-

ceptions of males and females on the Sex Role Question-

naire. It should be noted that on those questionnaires

dealing with perceptions of the male five respondents

(one male, four female) failed to indicate their ages;

on those questionnaires dealing with perceptions of the

female, two respondents (one male, one female) failed to

indicate their ages; and on those questionnaires dealing

with perceptions of the adult, two respondents (two

females) did not indicate their ages.


Table 4 shows that none of the correlations was

significant. However, there seemed to be a trend in the

direction of the correlation. As the age of male and

female counselors increased, the scores relating to

perceptions of the male and female decreased. Younger

male counselors and older female counselors scored

higher on the questionnaires relating to perceptions of

the adult, but these results were not significant.




MC -.035 -.07 -.22

FC -.42 -.28 -.15

TOTAL -.06 -.21 -.08

An additional Pearson r correlation was performed

to see if there was any relationship between years

since last degree and score. On the form reporting

perceptions of males, two female counselors neglected

to report the number of years since their last degree.

Table 5 reveals that there was no significant

correlation between years since last degree and score.

However, there is some indication that the fewer the


years since the completion of the last degree, the

higher the score.




MC .24 -.06 -.18

FC -.25 -.47 -.01

TOTAL .09 -.21 -.12

One more analysis of the data was performed. For

each item on the Sex Role Questionnaire, the mean, vari-

ance and standard deviation was determined. This inform-

ation is included in Appendix G for possible use in

later investigations.


The current study examined the sex role perceptions

of counselors as a function of their expectations of

males, females and adults. This investigation was organ-

ized and conducted as outlined in Chapter III; and the

statistical evidence was reported in Chapter IV. Vari-

ous conclusions relative to the hypotheses stated in

Chapter I may be drawn from the study. These are dis-

cussed below.

Conclusions Drawn from this Investigation

With regard to Hypothesis I, the F ratio asso-

ciated with the mean scores of groups of counselors

asked to describe the male, female and adult was not

significant. Therefore, one can conclude that there

was no general tendency for either male or female coun-

selors in urban southeastern community colleges to pro-

duce consistently, either higher or lower scores, simply

by virtue of a respondent's sex. This finding, in con-

junction with the significant interaction of counselors'

sex and their perceptions of male, female and adult,

indicated that any difference in counselors' scores was

due to a differing view of sex role.


There was no significant F ratio associated with

varying of instructions on the Sex Role Questionnaire;

whether a respondent answered the male, female or adult

set of instructions did not produce a significant F

ratio. Therefore, it appeared that for southeastern

urban community college counselors, perceptions of

males, females, and adults did not differ from each

other. The lack of a significant difference among the

male, female and adult scores suggests that the double

standard formerly applied in judging social desir-

ability and mental health of males vis-a-vis females may

be waning and a new androgynous standard which incor-

porates both masculine and feminine personality traits

may be emerging.

It was not the purpose of this research to investi-

gate whether the positions of the male, female and adult

standards were comparable to the results obtained in the

Broverman et al. (1970) study. Different statistical

procedures were used in two studies. The differences in

means reported by Broverman reflect a difference in pro-

portions of subjects selecting one pole of an item over

the other pole. The adult standard was represented by

that pole of each item on which the majority of subjects

completing adult instructions agreed. However, in the

present study the items are scored on a continuum from

one pole to the other and the means represent a position

on that continuum. In the present study there was no

significant difference in the means of the scores for

male, female and adult instructions; on the other hand,

in the Broverman study there was no difference between

male and adult scores, but the male/adult scores were

significantly different from the female scores.

The shift in position indicated by the present

study relative to the sex role expectations for the

female represents a significant shift from the tradi-

tional stereotypic role. The present study suggests

that both males and females are expected by counselors

to have characteristics similar to those exhibited by

the adult. Thus, both males and females can be expected

to be healthy, socially desirable people without needing

to assume artificial and separate roles. The counselors

have demonstrated flexibility of attitudes, indicating a

good prognosis for future change.

The literature offers some plausible explanations

for this shift. Lewittes et al. (1973) found in their

sample of clinicians that men were less biased against

women and women more pro-female than previous studies

had found. Steinmann et al. (1963) reported that the

ideal woman, delineated by men, was not significantly

different than women's self-perceptions. Both sexes had

the same ideal image; yet neither sex had an accurate

perception of how the other sex felt. The increased


publicity on sex role may have communicated this informa-

tion to both sexes. Broverman et al. (1972) stated that

the majority of the socially desirable items of the Sex

Role Questionnaire represents a competency cluster. The

women's movement has done much to publicize the compe-

tencies of women, and this type of popular press had no

doubt played a large part in shaping counselors' atti-

tudes. In addition, an increasing number of women are

becoming visible in positions of authority. This vis-

ibility enhances the perception of the woman as a com-

petent human being. As women are perceived to be more

competent, scores on the female instructions of the Sex

Role Questionnaire increase.

Another explanation for this shift may be that the

requirement to eliminate sexism in counseling practice

and procedures is no longer a debate; it is a matter of

federal law and counselors may be reminded of that fre-

quently in their job situations. Title IX of the Educa-

tion Amendments of 1972 to the original Civil Rights

Act of 1964 prohibits sex discrimination in any educa-

tion program or activity receiving federal financial

assistance. The pressure to comply with Title IX may

have created a situation where changes in behavior

brought about changes in perceptions.

It might be useful to note that of the seven sub-

jects who were eliminated because they did not complete


correctly the Sex Role Questionnaire, five stated that

they held no prior expectations of people. One subject

seemed to refer to Title IX by saying, "It is against

the law for me to have a prior expectation of a woman

before I meet her." Thus, there seemed to be a sensi-

tivity to sexual discrimination.

Hypothesis II was concerned with the interaction

effect between the sex of the counselor and the type

of perception (male, female or adult) on the Sex Role

Questionnaire. While none of the interactions was sig-

nificant at p < .01, two were significant at p < .05.

When asked to describe their perceptions of adults and

males, there was a significant difference between male

and female counselors' scores. When asked to describe

their perceptions of adults, female counselors produced

higher scores than male counselors. As to their percep-

tion of males, male counselors' produced higher scores

than female counselors. There were no significant dif-

ferences between perceptions of females as revealed in

the scores of male and female counselors.

As has been noted previously, a high score on the

Sex Role Questionnaire indicates a high score in social

desirability and mental health. In this research, women

counselors demonstrated higher expectations for adults

than male counselors. Women counselors may be more aware

of the need to be competent as well as being culturally


conditioned to be warm and expressive. The women's move-

ment encourages women to set higher standards for them-

selves. This influence may have generalized to the

extent that women counselors are setting higher stand-

ards for all people to attain, regardless of the sex.

Male counselors may not have been as affected by this

movement. This could account for Fabrikant's (1974)

findings that both male and female clients would prefer

male counselors prior to therapy; but having had therapy,

both male and female clients express greater satisfac-

tion with female counselors. If female counselors have

more socially desirable perceptions of adults, their

mental health standards and expectations are higher.

Thus, a self-fulfilling prophecy may occur; and clients

(both male and female) may complete therapy feeling more

socially desirable and mentally healthy when treated by

female counselors.

When asked to describe males, male counselors pro-

duced significantly higher scores (p < .05) than female

counselors. Thus, if a male client is counseled by a

female counselor, he would be measured by different

expectations than if he were counseled by a male coun-

selor, i.e., the male client. In the past, both male

and female counselors reserved the more socially desir-

able perceptions of the male (Nelson & Segrist, 1973;

Bem, 1972; Brown, 1957). Complaints of feminists were


first generated on behalf of females. However, it would

seem that now consciousness-raising needs to be accom-

plished for the male counselor as well, so that he can

modify the belief that men must maintain superior abili-

ties and accomplishments (Ferreira, 1974) to be mentally

healthy or socially desirable.

Again, it should be noted there was no difference

between male and female counselors' scores on the ques-

tionnaires relating to perceptions of females. Thus, it

can be concluded that male and female counselors have

congruent perceptions of the female. This becomes even

more important when considered along with the results

indicating no difference in scores on the three sets of

questionnaires. When male and female counselors are con-

sidered together, male and female counselors both per-

ceive females similarly to adults and males.

Hypotheses III and IV were concerned with the pos-

sible correlation of counselors' age and their percep-

tions of men, women and adults. There was no significant

correlation between counselors' age and their score; how-

ever, there did appear to be some directionality to the

scores. The tendency was for younger counselors to gen-

erate higher scores than older counselors, regardless of

whether asked to describe male, female or adult. It had

been thought that younger counselors would show more

congruence in scoring males, females and adults, while


older counselors would delineate more differences

between male, female and adult. This assumption was

based on the research that younger counselors expressed

a more favorable attitude about women (Bingham & House,

1975). This was, however, not the case for this sample

of counselors. The male, female and adult scores were

not significantly different, regardless of the age of

the counselor. An explanation for this lack of signifi-

cant difference may be drawn from Ryder (1965), who

reported that when new members enter a population, they

can effect an attitude change for all members of that

population. Perhaps it was the influence of the younger

counselors which accounted for the weakening of stereo-

typic perceptions of southeastern urban community college

counselors of all ages.

Another explanation may be that the women's move-

ment may have been effective in reaching all segments

of the population. This would concur with Roper and

Labeff (1977) who compared their data with C.

Kirkpatrick's 1936 data concerning feminism and sex roles.

Roper and Labeff reported that in the 40-year span there

has been a general trend toward more egalitarian atti-

tudes. They found that both the older and the younger

generations surveyed at the time were more favorably

disposed toward feminist issues such as economic and

political equality; and while the younger women were


favorably inclined toward domestic equality, both genera-

tions had liberalized their attitudes.

Simons and Helms (1976) reported that subjects

generally preferred counselors who were older than they.

College women preferred counselors 35-45 years old while

noncollege women preferred counselors 55-65 years old.

The present study has shown that regardless of the age

of the counselor, there was no significant difference in

their sex role perceptions. Thus, if a client was choos-

ing an age range based on preconceived notions of the

younger counselor being less stereotypic, this notion

was unsupported by this research.

An additional analysis was performed to determine

whether there was any correlation between the number of

years since the counselors received their last degree

and the scores yielded on the Sex Role Questionnaires.

Research had indicated the need for counselor or educa-

tion programs to take an affirmative stance on eliminat-

ing sex bias and sex discrimination (Verheyden-Hilliard,

1977). It was assumed that counselor education students

are required to keep abreast of current thought and

would be more aware of problems caused by stereotyping;

consequently, it was believed that the fewer the number

of years since the last degree, the higher the score

would be. While there was a tendency in that direction,

none of the correlations was significant. The question


arises as to how much additional influence the current

counselor education programs are having on their stu-

dents. Fernberger (1948) in discussing racial and sex-

ual stereotypes, noted that:

It is not surprising that a purely
intellectual appeal should have so little
effect in changing such opinions. If such
stereotypes are to be eliminated, the
appeal must be emotional as well as intel-
lectual. (p. 101)

The women's movement has supplied the emotional

appeal, and perhaps that appeal was so pervasive that

it significantly amplified the intellectual stimulation

provided by the formal preparation of the counselors.

Another consideration may be that in this study the

counselors were not asked what inservice courses, work-

shops, seminars or college courses they had participated

in recently. While these programs may have been

external to any degree, they still may have had an

influence on counselors who had received degrees earlier.

This factor also might account in part for the lack of

significant correlation between the years since the last

degree and the scores on the Sex Role Questionnaires. It

is suggested that further research investigate this issue.


The findings of the present study stand in con-

trast to previous studies. Five major findings emerge:

First, counselors do not delineate differences in


perceptions of males, females and adults. This implies

a breakdown of the former stereotypes of the female.

Second, male and female counselors perceive females sim-

ilarly, but have differing views of the male and adult.

Third, there was no correlation between the age of the

counselor and his or her perceptions of males, females

and adults. Fourth, there was no correlation between

the number of years since the counselor's last degree

and his or her perceptions of sex role stereotypes.

Finally, it can be concluded that sex role stereo-

types are not as fixed as earlier studies had indicated,

at least as perceived by community college counselors

in seven southeastern states. Although the study did

not attempt to delineate what factors influenced the

change in counselors' perceptions, the fact that change

has occurred indicates that the various forces at work

are effective and should be encouraged.

Recommendations for Further Study

Because the findings of this study are a departure

from previous research, the results need to be further

investigated. In addition, it would be helpful for

other samples to be taken to ascertain whether these

results are in fact limited to the community colleges

that are included in this study.


Since there is a discrepancy in the method of scor-

ing between this study and the original on which it was

based, the investigator recommends replication. Using

another instrument (such as the Bem Sex-Role Inventory)

might be advantageous to further verify the results

(Bem, 1974).

It is hoped that this investigation will prove

valuable to counselors and counselor educators in pro-

viding a medium through which counselors can examine

their attitudes and expectations of clients. Counselor

educators should further make available the opportunity

for sex role research. Counselors should work for the

elimination of stereotypic perceptions within the educa-

tional setting in which they are working. All people

benefit by the elimination of sex role bias; and if it

is the counselors' function to benefit not only their

clients but also the social environment in which they

work, the elimination of sex-role bias will have a sal-

utary effect on society.



Initial Letter

Response Postcard to be Enclosed with
Initial Letter

2101 Thunderbird Trail
Maitland, Florida 32751
August 10, 1979
Name of Individual
Dean of Student Services
Community College


I would appreciate your approval of, and partici-
pation in, a study sponsored by the Department of Coun-
selor Education at the University of Florida on commun-
ity (junior) college counselors' perceptions of sex role
stereotypes. Participation would involve having the
counselors on your staff complete a 36-item Sex Role
Questionnaire and a cover sheet which includes a request
for demographic information. The entire process should
take less than 15 minutes of your counselors' time.

It will be necessary to know the number of coun-
selors on your staff who have at least a master's degree
and spend at least 50% of their workload in face-to-face
relationships with students and/or with other personnel
concerning students.

I request that you designate one person, if not
yourself, to coordinate the dissemination and collection
of the questionnaires. The attached stamped, self-
addressed postcard is provided to ease this process.

Your participation in this study is truly appre-
ciated, and in return I would be glad to share with you
any results I obtain. If you have any questions about
this research, please do not hesitate to write me at the
above address or call me collect at (305)644-6359.

I am looking forward to hearing from you as soon
as possible.


Enclosure (Mrs.) Miriam (Mimi) Hull
APPROVED: Dr. Robert 0. Stripling
Distinguished Service Professor
University of Florida
Dr. James Wattenbarger
Professor and Director
Institute of Higher Education
University of Florida

, 1979

Will you participate in this research? Yes No
If you will participate, please indicate the person
responsible for dissemination and collection of ques-
tionnaire Miss Ms.
Mrs. Mr. Dr.


mailing address

Please indicate the number of counselors meeting the
criteria mentioned in the second paragraph of my

Thank you

Mailing Address

Mrs. Miriam (Mimi) Hull
2101 Thunderbird Trail
Maitland, Florida 32751

Name of Institution



2101 Thunderbird Trail
Maitland, Florida 32751
April 4, 1979

Name of Individual
Dean of Student Services
Community College


Approximately one month ago, I sent you a letter
together with a reply postcard, asking your participa-
tion in a project sponsored by the University of Florida,
Department of Counselor Education. A copy of that let-
ter is enclosed for your reference.

While the original letter may have come at an inop-
portune time, since many schools were then on spring
break, I would very much appreciate it if you could give
your prompt attention to this matter now.

I wish to re-emphasize that participation in this
study would entail a maximum of 15 minutes of your coun-
selors' time and the study may be of some significance in
community college research.

For your convenience, you may indicate your parti-
cipation in this study on the form at the bottom of this
letter, returning it to me in the enclosed self-addressed

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate
to call me collect at (305) 644-6359. Thank you for your
kind consideration.


Miriam (Mimi) Hull



Will you participate in this research? Yes No
If you will participate, please indicate the person
responsible for dissemination and collection of ques-

Miss Ms.
Mrs. Mr. Dr.
mailing address

Please indicate the number of counselors meeting the
criteria mentioned in the second paragraph of my
original letter

Thank you.



2101 Thunderbird Trail
Maitland, Florida 32751
March 12, 1979
Name of Individual
Community College


I appreciate your indicated willingness to partici-
pate in this study sponsored by the University of Florida,
Department of Counselor Education. Enclosed are ques-
tionnaires equal in number to the counselors that you or
your college indicated as having at least master's degrees
and spending at least 50% of their workload time in face-
to-face contact with students or with other personnel
about students. Should you need any additional question-
naires for counselors to complete, please do not hesitate
to request them.

Please distribute the questionnaires in order to
your counselors. (The first counselor receiving the first
one the second counselor receiving the second, etc.).
The counselors do not have to be in any specific order
nor do the questionnaires have to be returned in any order.

Because the questionnaires can be completed in less
than 15 minutes, I would request your urging that the com-
pleted questionnaires be returned promptly. I would like
to have them returned to me within 2 weeks. In this
study, the return rate is important so we would appreciate
as many responses as possible. The enclosed stamped
envelope is provided for the return of the questionnaires.

Again, many thanks for your participation and if
you have any questions, please do not hesitate to write
or phone me collect at (305) 644-6359.


(Mrs.) Miriam (Mimi) Hull

APPROVED: Dr. Robert O. Stripling
Distinguished Service Professor
University of Florida

Dr. James Wattenbarger, Professor & Director
Institute of Higher Education
University of Florida




Demographic Questionnaire

Dear Community or Junior College Counselor:

I would appreciate your completing the following

materials which are important to a study being sponsored

by the University of Florida, Department of Counselor

Education. The entire process should not take more than

15 minutes of your time.

When you have completed the enclosed questionnaire,

please return this entire packet to

of your college.

Thank you very much.


Mrs. Miriam (Mimi) Hull


APPROVED: Dr. Robert O. Stripling
Distinguished Service Professor
University of Florida

Dr. James Wattenbarger
Professor and Director
Institute of Higher Education
University of Florida


Demographic Questionnaire

Today's date

Thank you for your participation in this research. The

following information is being asked for statistical pur-

poses only. It will be used to define the population of

this study rather than to single out individuals. Please

answer all questions to the best of your knowledge.

Sex: M F Date of Birth

Highest level of education: (circle)

Bachelors; Master's;Specialist; Doctorate; other

Date of last degree

Major area of study for last degree

Present Job Title


Indicate the percent of your workload spent in face-to-

face relationships with students and/or with other person-

nel concerning students.

Less than 50% 50% or more

Please turn page.



Item # Male-Valued Items
Socially desirable pole (= masculine pole)

1 Very aggressive
2 Very independent
5 Very dominant
8 Not at all excitable in a major crisis
9 Not at all excitable in a minor crisis
16 Very skilled in business
20 Feelings not easily hurt
24 Can make decisions easily
25 Never cries
26 Almost always acts as a leader
34 Not at all dependent
11 Very competitive
19 Knows the way of the world
21 Very adventurous
29 Not at all uncomfortable about being aggressive
32 Able to separate feelings from ideas
4 Not at all easily influenced
12 Very logical
15 Very worldly
30 Very little need for security
17 Very direct
27 Very self-confident
31 Very ambitious
36 Very assertive

Item # Female-Valued Items
Socially desirable pole (= feminine pole)

3 Very emotional
6 Doesn't hide emotions at all
14 Very gentle
23 Very interested in own appearance
35 Easily expresses tender feelings
7 Very talkative
10 Able to devote self completely to others
33 Enjoys art and literature very much
22 Very religious
28 Never sees self as running the show
18 Very aware of the feelings of others
13 Very tactful