Participation in senior centers as a function of gender
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This study addressed itself to the issues underlying differing center involvement between males and females. The theoretical formulation used was an initial application of sex-role theory to this specific problem. This theory asserts that attitudes, interests and behaviors are differentially shaped for males and females by means of lifelong societal enculturation. One hundred subjects, evenly divided between the sexes were compared on level of center involvement as well as their level of identification with the gender appropriate sex-role, and ratings of both life satisfaction and social support. The sample was obtained at two senior centers in urban, lower middle class neighborhoods. The subjects were randomly selected and had to complete a questionnaire containing rating scales on the above variables. Center involvement was defined within one of five preferred levels. In increasing order of involvement, the descriptive terms assigned to these levels were: "Watcher", "Listener", "Doer", "Socializer" and "Volunteer".;The following was hypothesized: That distinct levels of center involvement would be found and that there would be gender differences within these levels; that females would rate a preference for higher levels of center involvement than males; that a positive correlation would be found between increasing levels of center involvement and social support as well as with life satisfaction. Higher social support scores were also expected from the female participants when compared to their male counterparts and younger subjects were expected to rate higher levels of center involvement than older subjects.;With the exception of finding no age differences on levels of involvement, the other hypotheses were supported by the research results. The conclusions indicated great variability of involvement at the centers and showed that subjects identifying more strongly with the female sex-role, regardless of their actual gender, expressed higher involvement than subjects whose scores on gender identification were comparatively closer to that of the male sex-role. Replication and further study is suggested. Implications of the results of this study for social work is discussed and program implications for increasing male involvement in senior centers are suggested.
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