Why Don’t “Real Men” Learn Languages? Masculinity Threat and Gender Ideology Suppress Men’s Language Learning Motivation

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  • Large gender disparities in participation still exist across many university subjects and career fields, but few studies have examined factors that account for gender gaps in female-dominated disciplines. We examine one possible cause: threatened masculinity among men who hold traditional gender ideologies. Past research has linked endorsement of traditional gender ideologies to gender-stereotypical occupational choices, and threats to masculinity can lead men to distance themselves from femininity. After confirming that 1672 undergraduates stereotyped language learning as feminine, we applied a masculinity threat manipulation to investigate 182 men’s disinterest in studying foreign languages, a female-dominated university subject. Men with traditional masculinity ideologies reported less interest in foreign language study and less positive attitudes towards foreign language following masculinity threat compared to men whose masculinity was affirmed or who held less traditional masculinity beliefs. Traditional masculine gender roles may lead some men to avoid “feminine”-typed domains such as foreign language learning.

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    Article (Published)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
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    • Chaffee, K. E., Lou, N. M., Noels, K. A., & Katz, J. W. (2019). Why don’t “real men” learn languages? Masculinity threat and gender ideology suppress men’s language learning motivation. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations.
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