Book-carrying positions – typically “male” or typically “female” – a re-examination

1976 was something of a pivotal year for research aimed at establishing whether men and women tend to carry books in different ways – with no less than 3 key papers appearing in the literature [see references below]. Some seventeen years later however, the subject was re-examined – by Evelyne Thommen, Emiel Reith, and Christiane Steffen at the University of Geneva, who, as a result of a 6-year long study, questioned, or perhaps even challenged, the view that it’s valid to define the various carrying positions as either typically “male” or typically “female.”

“The present authors conducted five observational studies on carrying behavior in Geneva, Switzerland, over a 6-yr. period. In each sample, almost 50% of women adopted the same positions as men. These results show that it is necessary to question the gender-stereotypical nature of book-carrying positions and to consider gender differences in behavior from a more dynamic standpoint.”

See: Gender-Related Book-Carrying Behavior: A Reexamination in Perception and Motor Skills, Volume: 76 issue: 2, page(s): 355-362 (1993). A full copy may be found here.


1976 references :
Carrying Behavior in Humans: Analysis of Sex Differences, Donald A. Jenni and Mary A. Jenni Source: Science, New Series, Vol. 194, No. 4267 (Nov. 19, 1976), pp. 859-86

The development of sexually dimorphic book carrying behavior Hanaway, T.P. & Burghardt, G.M. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society (1976) 7: 267.

The effects of sex. book weight and grip strength on book-carrying styles Philip J. Spottswood & Gordon M. Burghardt, Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 8 (2):150-152 (1976)

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