Ursula Sanborn-Overby to speak at Gender Out of Bounds event

The Department of Women’s and Gender Studies will present GENDER OUT OF BOUNDS “Is sexual prejudice driving increased negative evaluations for feminine males? Testing the sexual orientation hypothesis” by Dr. Ursula Sanborn-Overby, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at SUNY Oneonta.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 13, 2019 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. in the CME GREAT ROOM, (LEE HALL)

“Although gender-role violations are generally disapproved of, substantial evidence indicates that gender-atypical males receive increased negative evaluations relative to gender-atypical females (e.g., Levy, Taylor, & Gelman, 1995; Watterson & Powlishta, 2007). Less is known about the reasons for this asymmetry: why is it worse to be a sissy than a tomboy? According to the sexual orientation hypothesis, gender atypicality is more closely associated with homosexuality in males than in females, and the elevated negativity towards gender-atypical males actually reflects sexual prejudice (McCreary, 1997; Sirin, McCreary, Mahalik, 2004).

A series of three studies sought to empirically evaluate this hypothesis. Study 1 sought to confirm the pattern of asymmetry using a large number of characteristics. Participants rated how acceptable a series of 248 masculine and feminine occupation, activity, trait, and appearance-related items were perceived to be when possessed by males versus females. In Study 2, participants rated their perceptions of how typical the same 248 characteristics were for heterosexual versus homosexual males and females. A “perceived homosexuality” score was created for each item, with higher scores reflecting how typical each masculine characteristic was believed to be among lesbians, and how typical each feminine characteristic was believed to be among gay males. Study 3 sought to directly test the sexual orientation hypothesis.

The findings confirm one explanation for why it is worse to be a sissy than a tomboy: being gender-atypical leads to assumptions of homosexuality in males more than in females; the more a particular gender-role violation is thought to implicate homosexuality, the more it is viewed as being unacceptable.”

For more information about Gender Out of Bounds presentations, contact Charlene Christie at Charlene.Christie@oneonta.edu or the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at 436-2014.