Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Brave men and compassionate women: gender attitudes in England and Finland

Ahmavaara, Anni (2006) Brave men and compassionate women: gender attitudes in England and Finland. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94156) (KAR id:94156)

PDF (Optical Character Recognition (OCR) of this thesis enables read aloud functionality of the text.)
Language: English

Download this file
[thumbnail of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) of this thesis enables read aloud functionality of the text.]
Official URL:


The aim of this thesis is to examine gender-related attitudes in England and Finland. The thesis investigates the development of these attitudes in children, the effects that age and sex have on these attitudes, and how culture influences the perception of sex and gender roles. Specifically, this thesis explores the attitudes and stereotypes relating to academic ability, occupational choices, family roles and personality traits.

Review of literature shows that overall males tend to be more traditional and stereotypical in their gender attitudes than females. In relation to age, it has been found that the older children get, the more flexible they become in their attitudes to the roles of the two sexes. Cross-culturally, very little research has included both English and Finnish samples, but based on international indices of gender equality Finland appears to be more progressive in its gender-related policies than England.

In Study One (N=3313) results of secondary analysis on the ISSP data on gender role attitudes are presented. The results show that despite the Finnish perceiving women’s employment as more normative than the British, they also hold traditional family values in a greater esteem. Study Two examines gender attitudes of Finnish and English children and adolescents (N=1856), and the results indicate that the Finnish participants hold more stereotypical attitudes than the English, and that attitudes towards personality traits and occupations are strongly influenced by gender stereotypes across the nationalities and age groups. Studies Three (N=302) and Four (N=304) further examine attitudes towards instrumental and expressive personality traits, occupational stereotypes and ambivalent sexism. Study Five (N=204) compares Finnish adults’ scores on ambivalent sexism to other international samples and examines developmental trends in the endorsement of hostile and benevolent attitudes towards women.

It is concluded that despite being viewed as a haven of gender equality, the gender attitudes are more traditional in Finland than in England. Possible reasons for this are discussed, and suggestions for further research outlined. Overall, the research presented suggests that while the 21st century children and adolescents still believe that men and women are innately different, this perception of differences does not directly determine their future aspirations in terms of occupations or parental roles.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Houston, Diane M.
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94156
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2022 09:53 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2023 08:43 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.