Participation in competitive amateur sports as a function of psychological androgyny

Research paper by Anita M. Myers, Hilary M. Lips

Indexed on: 01 Aug '78Published on: 01 Aug '78Published in: Sex Roles


Previous research has indicated that women who participate in competitive sports tend to score low on traditional measures of femininity, and such women have been characterized as masculine (Harris, 1975). These studies used the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI; Bem, 1974) to measure the degree of sex-typing in 25 male and 23 female competitors in a national racquetball tournament and 24 male and 27 female competitors in local badminton, squash, and handball tournaments. Results for the first study indicated that a larger percentage of androgynous women as compared to traditionally feminine or masculine women entered the racquetball tournament, whereas the largest percentage of male entrants were in the masculine role category. Results for the second study indicated that among contestants who cited a competitive reason for entering the tournament, a larger percentage of both men and women were sex-typed as androgynous or masculine rather than feminine. These results were subsequently reanalyzed according to an alternate procedure suggested by Bem (1977) in order to compare the behavior of subjects who score high on both masculinity and femininity and those who scored low on both. While the percentages of masculine, feminine, and androgynous subjects were changed by the new categorization procedure, there were no differences found between high—high and low—low scorers. Implications of these results for the traditional characterization of women participants in competitive sports and for the usefulness of the BSRI in predicting nonlaboratory behavior are discussed.