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EASP – European Association of Social Psychology

Times are a-Changing but Men’s Roles are Slow to Change: Developing a Research Agenda on the Underrepresentation of Men in Communal Roles

20.03.2016, by Sibylle Classen in meeting report

Report on the EASP-SPSSI Joint Meeting
November 5-7, 2015 – Leuven, Belgium

Organizers: Colette Van Laar (colette.vanlaar@kuleuven.be); Toni Schmader (tschmader@psych.ubc.ca)

Social psychologists have long been interested in the study of gender roles, but this research has predominantly focused on the barriers women face in their pursuit of more agency. The focus of this innovative small group meeting, held from the 5th-7th of November, 2015, in Leuven, Belgium, was to consider the factors that constrain men from becoming more communal in their values and roles. The goal of this meeting was to bring together an international group of psychological scientists with an interest in gender roles to expand and invigorate this emerging area of research, and to brainstorm new perspectives on this understudied asymmetry of changing gender roles. We had approximately 30 people in attendance representing a diversity of European and North American scholars, men and women, and people across career stage from graduate students to senior scholars. In addition to funding from EASP, the meeting also received generous support from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Leuven.

Participants at the meeting were: Jill Allen, Tomasz Besta, Monica Biernat, Kate Block, Janine Bosak, Jennifer Bosson, Alyssa Croft, Thierry Devos, Asa Ekvall, Leire Gartzia, Peter Glick, Elizabeth Haines, Lisa Horvath, William Ickes, Astrid Jehle, Natasza Kosakowska-Berezecka, Clara Kulich, Monic Lansu, Sarah Martiny, Loes Meeussen, Batja Mesquita, Jamie Napier, Floor Rink, Lauren Ruth, Caroline Schuster, Sabine Sczesny, Stephanie Shields, Alejandro Amillano Solano, Melanie Steffens, Rebekka Steiner, Janet Swim, Jolien Van Breen, Sanne Van Grootel, Joe Vandello, Jenny Veldman, Terri Vescio, and Ilka Wolter.

Across the two and half days, there were seven keynote and seven data blitz talks. The list of keynote presentations is below. The full program for the conference can be found here (http://ppw.kuleuven.be/home/english/research/cscp/conferences/program).

  • Peter Glick: What keeps men away from communal roles?
  • Toni Schmader: Unpacking the status asymmetry in changing gender roles.
  • Natasza Kosakowska: Why men are restrained from household duties? The role of culture and agentic self-stereotyping.
  • Elizabeth Haines: The Gender Prioritization Model: When are Caregiving Men “Likable Losers” and when are they “Superdads”?
  • William Ickes: A Theoretical Model of Gender-Role Influences in Social Interaction: A Focus on Men's Communality.
  • Jennifer Bosson: Breadwinner Wives Make Unhappy Husbands: Trait Ascriptions and Perceived Relationship Dynamics in Nontraditional Couples.
  • Joseph Vandello: Explaining Men's Resistance to Gender Equality at Work and Home: Stigma Perception and Zero-Sum Beliefs.


In addition, because a primary goal of the meeting was to develop collaborative international grant proposals and foster future collaboration, the meeting also included breakout sessions for theory development and research design. These innovative brainstorming sessions were especially fruitful and led to the early development of research topics such as: How does the structural and psychological status of occupations predict the ratio of men in communal occupations and backlash against them? When does information about changing male gender norms lead to support for policies that facilitate more change or backlash against them? How do partners engage in negotiations to divide domestic labor? What are the consequences of being in a non-traditional couple for both men and women? How does cross-national variation in structural support for men as caregivers predict people’s attitudes toward men in these roles? Several groups have already begun planning for collaborative data collection or grant projects stemming from these sessions. We also plan to organize a submission for the Journal of Social Issues on this theme in the coming year.


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