Lei, M., Simons, R. L., Simons, L. G., & Edmond, M. B. (2014). Gender equality and violent behavior: How neighborhood gender equality influences the gender gap in violence. Violence and Victims, 29(1), 89.
Using a sample of 703 African American adolescents from the Family and Community Health Study (FACHS) along with census data from the year 2000, we examine the association between neighborhood-level gender equality and violence. We find that boys’ and girls’ violent behavior is unevenly distributed across neighborhood contexts. In particular, gender differences in violent behavior are less pronounced in gender-equalitarian neighborhoods compared to those characterized by gender inequality. We also find that the gender gap narrows in gender-equalitarian neighborhoods because boys’ rates of violence decrease whereas girls’ rates remain relatively low across neighborhoods. This is in stark contrast to the pessimistic predictions of theorists who argue that the narrowing of the gender gap in equalitarian settings is the result of an increase in girls’ violence. In addition, the relationship between neighborhood gender equality and violence is mediated by a specific articulation of masculinity characterized by toughness. Our results provide evidence for the use of gender-specific neighborhood prevention programs.
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