A doctoral thesis written in the UGR has revealed that the sexist ideology itself, which is very deep-seated both in women and in men, is the best way to eliminate the differences within the couple. Elena Morales Marente, a researcher of the Department of Social Psychology of the University of Granada, has analysed the inequality between men and women within the couple from the standpoint of power, in her study “Psychosocial Analysis of Power in Gender Relations”, which the Centro de Estudios Andaluces declared the best doctoral thesis written in Andalusia in 2006. Her research has been directed by professors C. Miguel Moya Morales and Rosa Rodríguez Bailón.
In her thesis, in addition to other research, Elena Morales studied 278 heterosexual people –(139 couples), all of them living in Andalusia and with an average age of 43 years. Half of the sample was composed of couples in which the men and the women worked outside the home, while the other half was comprised of couples in which the men worked outside the home and women were housewives.
According to the researcher of the UGR, her work has shown that the sexist ideology is the first aspect that society should work on if they wish to achieve “a change towards the power equality”. Morales Marente has come to this conclusion after analysing four parameters defined as a “power base”, or aspects that allow one member of the couple to influence the other member. According to the author, “The use of strength and economic resources are two of the parameters analysed in this study, although the results indicate that two of the most important aspects are the social obligations and the sexist ideology”.
According to the thesis of Elena Morales, social obligations are those household chores that have been traditionally associated with one gender or another, while ‘ideology’ are those beliefs or stereotypes that reveal the roles that everyone should play (thoughts such as “the man must work, the woman not”, “child upbringing is the task of the mother”…)
Differences by gender
For the researcher, there are many differences between men and women in the four parameters studied, since, for example, men are more sexist than women, while women fulfil more social obligations. Elena Morales states that, “however, to reach a more egalitarian society, we must reduce the differences in these parameters. The first steps towards the change could be taken by altering the ideology and, as a result, the allocation of social obligations within the couple”.
The author confirms that working on ideology concerning women would be important for the change without falling into the cliché of blaming the women for being responsible for their own inequality. “As shown in the results, women have great ability to influence the power base of their relationship. That is, if women changed their ideology towards a more egalitarian one, they could influence the ideology of their partner and in this way in the rest of the parameters”.
Reference: Elena Morales Marente. Department of Social Psychology of the University of Granada.
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