The Landscape of Local Gender Norms across the United StatesWilliam J. Scarborough
Every place has its quirky attributes, cultural reputation, and distinctive flair. But when we travel across America, do we also experience distinct gender norms and expectations? In his groundbreaking Gendered Places, William Scarborough examines metropolitan commuting zones to see how each region’s local culture reflects gender roles and gender equity. He uses surveys and social media data to measure multiple dimensions of gender norms, including expectations toward women in leadership, attitudes toward working mothers, as well as the division of household labor.
Gendered Places reveals that different locations, even within the same region of the country, such as Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, have distinct gender norms and highly influential cultural environments. Scarborough shows how these local norms shape the attitudes and behaviors of residents with implications on patterns of inequality such as the gender wage gap. His findings offer valuable insight for community leaders and organizers making efforts to promote equality in their region.
Scarborough recognizes local culture as not value-neutral, but highly crucial to the gender structure that perpetuates, or challenges, gender inequality. Gendered Places questions how these gender norms are sustained and their social consequences.
“Gendered Places offers the first sustained, nationally representative analysis of local gender cultures in the United States. While cross country differences have been well documented, Scarborough provides a long-overdue accounting of variability in gender beliefs within the United States. He makes a strong case that places (commuting zones) within the United States vary in their gender norms, that this variation cannot be captured on a single traditional-to-egalitarian continuum, and that the observed spatial differences have real consequences.” —Maria Charles, Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and coauthor of Occupational Ghettos: The Worldwide Segregation of Women and Men
“Gendered Places attends to a crucial but understudied dimension of place culture: how people understand gender and how that matters for their lives and livelihoods. With careful research and engaging prose, Scarborough reveals the complex and sometimes surprising ways that gender works across cities and regions. Who lives in a place matters—but the story is not so simple. Nor are the stakes, for as Scarborough details, local gender norms have real implications for both the perpetuation and dismantling of inequalities.” —Krista E. Paulsen, Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Community Development at Boise State University, and coauthor of Introduction to Cities: How Place and Space Shape Human Experience