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Sex Roles and Interpersonal Behavior in Task-Oriented Groups

B. F. Meeker and P. A. Weitzel-O'Neill
American Sociological Review
Vol. 42, No. 1 (Feb., 1977), pp. 91-105
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2117733
Page Count: 15
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Sex Roles and Interpersonal Behavior in Task-Oriented Groups
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Abstract

In the past, sociologists have proposed that men and women approach situations in which they have to work with other people differently; that men are "task" or "instrumental" specialists, while women are "social" or "expressive" specialists. Subsequent advances in research on the social psychology of small groups, on families, and on personality has largely removed the theoretical and empirical supports for this proposition. On the other hand, researchers continue to observe sex differences in behavior in a variety of task-oriented situations. This paper suggests that sex roles may be seen as the result of status processes. Since men have higher status than women, men are expected to be more competent than women and it is expected that competitive or dominating behavior is legitimate for men but not for women. Empirical studies of sex roles as related to task appropriateness, group problem solving, conflict, dominating behavior and role expectations are reviewed in support of this theory.

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