Susan Higgins

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




This investigation was designed to study current attitudes of women to female roles. An adapted form of the Maferr Inventory of Feminine Values was given to 23 full-time secretaries and 19 feminist women. The inventory consisted of traditional and non-traditional items, and general statements and specific examples, which were rated in appropriateness separately for women and men. Two predictions were made about the subjects' responses: (1) The secretaries would make a greater differentiation between male and female roles, by judging traditional female statements more appropriate for women than men, and non-traditional female role descriptions more appropriate for men than women. (2) A greater difference between roles would occur in the appropriateness ratings of' the specific examples as opposed to the general statements, for both subject groups.

Both hypotheses were tenable. The feminists judged non-traditional female role descriptions equally and highly appropriate for both sexes; traditional female statements were inappropriate for both, but slightly more appropriate for men than women. The secretaries judged the non- traditional female role to be very appropriate for men and only slightly appropriate for women. The traditional female statements were very inappropriate for men and neither appropriate nor inappropriate for women.

An item analysis of the questionnaire showed that the secretaries and feminists preferred very different, yet not exclusive, types of characteristics in women. The secretaries approved of working wives and mothers and thought that women should have interests outside the home. However, they generally tended to put woman's primary interest in the home, her children, and husband. A woman does not argue or disagree, nor is she a leader. She should not question her sacrifices to her family, but should "let her husband think he's boss," carry the greater responsibility for making a marriage successful, and not try to upset the status quo. Husbands handle the outside world, become leaders, express their ideas strongly, and disagree when they feel abused. These husbands also are primarily responsible for the family income, even though the wives are working.

The feminists approved of working women and interests for women apart from the home. However, this is as far as the agreement goes between the two groups. The feminists felt that women as well as men can lead, argue, gain satisfaction outside the family, and assert themselves. Men and women are equally responsible for child-raising and successful marriages, and neither must sacrifice more than the other to maintain the family financially or emotionally. This group of women responded consistently in an egalitarian manner, removing the sex role restrictions traditionally placed on the statements in the questionnaire.