Dr. Twenge decided to dig up as many old studies using the Bem survey that she could find, average out their scores by year and chart them over time. “I found that across all the studies from the ’70s to the ’90s, there was a very clear upward trend in women scoring higher on this measure of stereotypically masculine traits,” she said.Twenge went on to use this method of studying generation change to focus on issues of self-esteem and narcissism, not masculinity and femininity. The article seems to attribute this shift on her happening to perceive that theme in the data. Much of the article is about critics of her methodology and what the negative dimension of narcissism really is. (Personally, I suspect that survey-takers get a higher score on a narcissism test because we used to get a stronger message that it's wrong to be selfish and "self-centered," so we self-assessed differently in the old days.)
I'm putting up this post because of the connection to the previous post, which I ended with a recommendation against seeing one's masculinity/femininity balance as any kind of a problem. Twenge took her research in another direction, and I wonder why she may have seen a career advantage in not delving into masculine and feminine stereotypes. In the constitutional case law that I teach, there's a very strong rejection of the use of sex stereotypes, but in the general culture, at least among elites, there's a lot of empathy for those who claim that their body doesn't match their psyche. But I think it's risky to point to that discrepancy. Who wants to step into that crossfire?
By the way, when I got to college, at the University of Michigan in 1969, we were given a bunch of tests, one of which gave a masculine/feminine score, and we were told all the scores but that one. The scores were reported on computer punchcards. We figured out how to read the holes on the punchcards and found our secret scores. I don't remember what I got, but the questions were such that the test was referred to as something like the "cooked carrots test," because a typical true/false statement was: "I like cooked carrots."