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Gender role attitudes and attitudes to abortion: Are there gender differences?

This study examines gender differences in gender role attitudes and attitudes to abortion in a sample of 141 undergraduate students. Religion and religiosity were treated as covariates. Using the short version of Spence and Helmreich's (1978) Attitudes to Women Scale (AWS) taken from Spence and Hahn [Spence, J. T., & Hahn, E. D. (1997). The Attitudes Toward Women Scale and attitude to change in college students. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 17–34] and the abortion attitudes scale developed by Stets and Leik [Stets, J. E., & Leik, R. K. (1993). Attitudes about abortion and varying attitude structures. Social Science Research, 22, 265–282], we found that females have more liberal attitudes to women and show stronger approval for women's autonomy in abortion decision-making. Given the low internal consistency of this three-item subscale, responses to the individual items were analyzed. More males than females feel that the father should have the right to prevent the mother from having an abortion. Most of the students indicate that the woman should have to tell the father before having an abortion and most disagree that the abortion is entirely a woman's decision. There were no gender differences on the moral acceptability and availability subscales. The overall results reflect somewhat conservative attitudes to women, and seemingly contradictory findings on the abortion issue in this sample of university students. Although they endorse the availability of abortion, at the same time they find it morally unacceptable and show weak support for women's autonomy in this decision. The implications of these findings for the advancement of women's rights in this country are discussed.

More information

  • Publication Year: 2009
  • Country/Region: South Africa
  • Accessible: No
  • Source: The Social Science Journal. September 2009, Volume 46, Issue 3: Pages 493–505
  • Doi: 10.1016/j.soscij.2009.02.006
  • Link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0362331909000263
  • Language: English
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2009 Author(s)   Patel C J, Johns L In Article