Gender Role Conformity in College Women: Psychological Consequences of Feminity

Date of Award


Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Laura Meyer

First Committee Member

Thomas Barret

Second Committee Member

Dina Matic


College women, feminist self-identification, self-esteem, interpersonal submissiveness


The aim of this study was to build upon past research on how contemporary college women are psychologically affected by gender role expectations, with specific interest in the expectation of being interpersonally submissive. Participants were 191 female undergraduate students who completed an online survey consisting of three empirically-validated instruments that measure facets of feminine gender-role conformity, elements of interpersonal submissiveness, and self-esteem. Results indicated that pursuing a thin body ideal, investment in appearance, sexual fidelity, and all dimensions of interpersonal submissiveness were negatively correlated with self-esteem. A regression analysis revealed that two dimensions of gender role norms, together with feminist self-identification, account for 45% of the variance in self-esteem for this population. Finally, potential risk and protective factors for self-esteem in college women were identified in the study. The potential protective factors included rejecting the following gender norms: judging the self by external standards, inhibiting self-expression and action to avoid conflict, presenting oneself as compliant in order live up to gender role expectations, pursuing a thin body ideal, and keeping sexual intimacy contained within one committed relationship. Practical and theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.


Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


29 pages

Paper Method

Case Study

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