Essay: Influences on individuals’ attitudes towards gender throughout upbringing

My most prominent findings are that parents and role models have the most significant influence on individuals’ attitudes towards gender throughout upbringing. Other factors, such as the media and society are also important in the forming of these attitudes, as well as in creating gendered stereotypes. Another important finding is that role models seem to have the highest impact on changing attitudes, as individuals reach adulthood. Through using myself as a participant and contributing towards the results of my study I feel that I have achieved a high standard of reflexivity; I have tried to approach my study with an open mind, carefully considering the strengths and weaknesses at each stage of the research process. My personal interest also meant I had a high level of personal reflexivity (Finlay and Gough, 2003). Also, in considering a small section within the vast amounts of literature regarding gender identity, the continuously developing meaning of gender in society and how these link to feminism, I have been able to understand the importance of gender and the questions that can be raised from research questions such as my own.
My question, ‘What factors during upbringing influence an individual’s attitude towards gender’? has been answered in my study, as has to some degree ‘What are the factors which influence an individual’s attitude towards gender to change’?. My study has highlighted the large gap in literature and research on attitudes towards gender as well as the factors of influence behind them.
With this dissertation being my first experience of conducting a research study I was unsure what to expect, and what I would take away from this process. Had I had more time during my research study I would have interviewed my participants multiple times, over a longer period of time, in order to get more specific findings from exploring their responses in more detail, this would have provided my study with greater validity. I would also have used a larger sample of participants, with equal numbers of males and females, as I had a ratio of three females to one male participant in my study. Another suggestion could be to use a different age group when choosing the participant sample, as I have explained that ideas of gender constantly change, it would be interesting to interview those who have had a different experience of the meaning of gender from being part of a rather different society. These suggestions would also increase the validity of the study as well as make it more representative to the population.
Following my study, I have learnt that when you have a passion for something you are researching it can be difficult to only ask one question, as there are suddenly many you want to attempt to answer and understand. I will continue to question gender aspects in the future, hoping to gain deeper knowledge of its meaning and how it changes society, as well as how the meaning changes to me. I will definitely be walking away from this research a different person, it has changed the way I look at almost everything; it has changed my life!

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