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Masculinity (MAS) focuses on the degree the society reinforces, or does not reinforce, the traditional masculine work role model of male achievement, control, and power.

High masculinity – societies that believe in the predominance of men and commerce while women’s role is in nurturing and care for family


Low masculinitysocieties that have equality between the sexes for education, commerce and family


Japanese practice high masculinity. Whereby men work while women stay in the house as housewife. Men in Japan are superior to the women.


Masculinity and Femininity in Japan

Historically Japan has upheld rigid traditional gender roles in its culture. Males were taught to be strong and tough and encouraged to have control and dominance over children and women. Japanese women, on the other hand, were taught to be reserved, subservient and obey their husbands in their marriages and act similarly to their male children in their old age. The Japanese also embrace the traditional idea of gender division or gender roles where a man provides for his family and a woman stays at home doing housework and caring for the children. It seems that these traditional gender roles are still alive in Japanese culture, although they have been shifting in the direction of  *egalitarianism.


*(the doctrine of the equality of mankind and the desirability of political and economic and social equality)


Japanese people valued and encouraged traditional gender role ideologies. Men were considered more important, more in control and more dominant than their female counterparts. Although Japan is considered to be one of the most developed and urbanized countries in temperate Asia, Japan seems to maintain a more traditional gender role ideology compared to other less developed, urbanized or climatically-favorable countries in the region.


In Japan, most of the literature discussing gender roles comes from studies conducted in the United States (Azuma, 1979; Azuma & Ogura, 1982). Only a few empirical studies have been done in Japan. Shimonaka, Nakazato and Kawaai (1990) utilized the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) to investigate masculinity and femininity among the elderly population in Japan. They found that both Japanese men and women in their 60s or 70s scored higher on the Femininity scale than on the Masculinity scale of the BSRI. They explained their findings of reversed gender role personality among elderly men as a process of adult development, thus supporting Gutmann's theory (1975). This explanation, however, has some limitations. To begin with, their sample was limited to an elderly population. Therefore, there is no way of knowing if they had more masculine personality traits when they were young. This reversed gender role might be true for men of all ages in Japanese culture. Moreover, the study did not clearly describe the translation process of the BSRI. The results might be influenced by the process of translating the BSRI into a different language. Cross-cultural research often involves translating questionnaires and scales into the language of the target culture. It is common knowledge that literal translation is not always possible due to a frequent lack of semantic equivalents in the target language. Even when an equivalent word or phrase may be available, it may not convey the exact same meaning.


Another study attempts to examine masculinity and femininity among Japanese college students to obtain a current perspective on gender roles in Japanese society. On the basis of previous cross-cultural findings, we hypothesized that Japanese college students would still hold traditional gender specific personality traits. Specifically, we assumed that Japanese female students would score higher on the Femininity and lower on the Masculinity scale of the BSRI than their male counterparts and that Japanese male students would score higher on the Masculinity and lower on the Femininity scale of the BSRI.

The subjects consisted of two hundred sixty-five college students (male = 104; female = 161) in Southern Japan. All students were ethnic Japanese who were born and raised in Japan. No other races were included. The mean age of the male college students was 20.2 years of age (SD = 2.0) and the mean age of female students was 19.5 years of age (SD = 1.4).

Seventeen percent of the male college students (18) lived with their parents and the rest (86) lived alone or with roommates. Forty two percent of the female students (71) lived with their parents and the rest (90) lived alone or with roommates.


The BSRI was developed by Sandra Bem in 1974 to measure masculine, feminine and androgynous personality traits among men and women. The BSRI consists of sixty personality characteristics including 20 feminine, 20 masculine and 20 non-gender related characteristics.

The BSRI manual (1978) reports internal consistencies of between .75 and .90. Test-retest reliabilities for Femininity and Masculinity of the original BSRI were .82 for Femininity and .94 for Masculinity among females and .89 for the Femininity and .76 for Masculinity among males.


  Male           Female
                          Mean (SD)         Mean (SD)      t      p
Masculinity              3.9    (.89)      3.7    (.86)   1.73   ns
Femininity-Masculinity   7.0   (20.9)     10.7   (20.0)   1.46   ns
Femininity               4.2    (.81)      4.2    (.73)   -.41   ns


Masculine and feminine personality traits were investigated using a translated version of the BSRI in Japanese. Contrary to our hypothesis, this study found diminishing gender role differences between male and female Japanese college students. This finding is similar to those of Tweng's study (1997) indicating diminishing gender role differences among males and females on the BSRI in the United States. Cultural change in Japanese society is a possible explanation for the results of the study.

Masculinity: the dominant values in society are material success (money and things) versus caring for others and the quality of life.



Gender roles overlap Distinct gender roles
Nurturance Assertiveness
Stress on equality, solidarity, and quality of work life Stress on equity, competition, and performance
Managers use intuition and strive for consensus Managers are expected to be decisive and assertive
Humility and modesty are important Men are assertive; women are tender
Conflict resolution by compromise and negotiation Conflict resolution by fighting out over issues
Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands Japan, Italy, Mexico (Latin Europe & America)

USA ranked 15 of 53 — Moderate/high MAS