Sex differences in achievement strivings: an examination and application of four models
Is Version Of
The current research was conducted to determine the accuracy of four models of gender differences in achievement orientation, and the extent to which the models are redundant. Bakan's (1966) model suggests that men strive for mastery and self-enhancement (agentic orientation), whereas women are interested in social goals (communal orientation). Stein and Bailey's (1973) model portrays women's achievement strivings as directed at the attainment of excellence in social-affiliative activities (social focus), whereas men strive for mastery of objective tasks (task focus). Kipnis' (1974) model suggests that women feel successful to the extent that personal goals have been met (inner-directed), and that men evaluate their performance in relation to that of their peers (other-directed). Veroff's (1977) model predicts that women focus on how something was accomplished (process emphasis), whereas men are primarily interested in what was done (impact emphasis). Self-reports of success and failure experiences of female and male undergraduates were examined by trained raters. Scores derived from the content analyses revealed that males' experiences showed greater impact orientation and less inner-direction than did those of females. No gender differences were found for agentic, communal, task, social, process, or other-directed foci in achievement. Thus, Kipnis' and Veroff's models seem more accurate than Bakan's and Stein and Bailey's in predicting gender differences in achievement. Factor analyses revealed overlap among the eight dimensions based on the four models, since only two important achievement focus dimensions were found. Task and agentic vs. social and communal foci provided a domain dimension. A performance evaluation dimension was determined by impact and other-directed vs. inner-directed and process foci. Further analyses involved measures of subject's masculinity-feminity (Personal Attributes Questionnaire; Spence et al., 1974), achievement motivation (Work and Family Orientation Questionnaire; Helmreich & Spence, 1978), and causal attributions. The results of this research indicate: (1) sex-role stereotypes are intimately related to the domains of important achievement activities; however, men and women do not differ in the kinds of activities (domains) that they report as successes or failures, and (2) women and men differ in how they define success and failure, but these performance evaluation styles are not related to sex-role stereotypes.