I do research on masculinity. When I say that out loud, some people find it funny – they ask me what there could possibly be to know. Plenty, I say.
One of my major interests is in the way that masculinity is defined. I look at the way that researchers define masculinity and also the way that regular people (or research participants, at least) define masculinity. It’s important to know how researchers use the term because scientific studies often make the news and become part of our cultural discourse. In one study, I looked at how masculinity was portrayed in the Hearst newspapers between the World Wars.
These studies also become the basis for research findings that are taught to college students. I’ve written about the major theories used in masculinity research and have reviewed several measures used in surveys. I’ve also have taken a close look at the “psychometric” properties of the full length Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory (CMNI) among 18 to 83 year olds as well as the 46 item version of the CMNI a masculinity scale. I also helped create the Conformity to Feminine Norms Inventory (CFNI).
I also look at the way masculinity is defined by members of the public. Many people think that women have a gender role, known as “femininity,” and that it’s shaped by culture. At the same time, they think that men don’t really have a gender role and that their “manly” behavior is the result of nature and evolution. I’ve written about the ways that schools can reinforce gender-based expectations for their students (not here yet) and demonstrated that adults in different age groups (from 18-83), and both sexes, differ in the way they “do” masculinity. I’ve also begun to examine the ways that some stereotypical images of guys, such as “jock,” “rebel,” and “nerd,” are related to people’s real lives.
-Doctor Andrew Smiler