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Citation Information

Type Thesis or Dissertation - PhD
Title Exploring the nature of gender-equitable attitudes among Ghanaian men: A mixed methods study
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
URL http://gradworks.umi.com/33/80/3380901.html
Abstract
Gender inequality in sub-Saharan Africa has far-reaching implications; fertility, mortality, sexual behavior, infant health, and domestic violence are all negatively impacted by inequalities between men and women. Gender gaps in education depress economic growth in the region, and scholars and practitioners alike assert that the amelioration of gender inequality in Africa is critical for further development on the continent. Because the preponderance of research on gender in sub-Saharan Africa examines women's perspectives, we do not know the full extent to which African men endorse gender equity, or the best approaches to gaining men's support for greater equality. In the discourse, men are often treated as homogenously problematic and resistant, rather than as a potential source of support for gender equality and gender-focused policies.

Through a mixed methods approach, this study utilizes 33 in-depth interviews with gender-equitable Ghanaian men and the 2003 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (2003 GDHS), to identify the processes through which some Ghanaian men develop gender-equitable attitudes within this male-dominant context. Using social cognitive theory as a framework to investigate the life course experiences that shape men's gender-equitable attitudes, an exploratory analysis of the 2003 GDHS reveals that men's gender attitudes differ by men's individual, family and environmental characteristics. In-depth interviews with gender-equitable Ghanaian men reveal that natal families, schooling environments, and peer relationships influence the emergence of gender-equitable attitudes. Additionally, men can develop more gender-equitable attitudes in adulthood through experiences that replicate familial, peer, and schooling socialization. As specified by social cognitive theory, men's personality characteristics are also important, as these influence how individuals understand and interact with their environments. Life course experiences work cumulatively to cultivate the emergence of gender-equitable attitudes among Ghanaian men.

This study also explores the nature of gender-equitable attitudes among Ghanaian men. Specifically, it identifies how Ghanaian men embody their gender-equitable attitudes, and the social costs and benefits of living out these attitudes. Respondents share a set of core beliefs that guide their gender-equitable perspectives, and a commitment to exhibit these values in their daily lives. Gender-equitable Ghanaian men experience a number of social costs as a result of their gender-equitable perspectives, but respondents agree that the personal benefits of their gender attitudes outweigh these costs.

This study provides guidance as to where crucial intervention points exist for shaping greater gender-equitable attitudes among men, and offers a constructive commentary on current gender-related policy and programmatic interventions in the region. Also, these findings expand empirical and theoretical understanding of men and masculinities in sub-Saharan Africa, and contribute to the deconstruction of the pervasive assumption that all African men are barriers to gender equity.

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