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Saturday, March 7 • 10:45am - 12:00pm
“Girl’s Like Talking About Serious Things”: Sex Segregation in Lesbian Emerging Adult’s Friendships

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Sex segregation refers to the tendency for men and women to primarily associate with same-sex peers. Sex segregation is perpetuated by the homosocial norm that suggests “appropriate” friendships are same-sex friendships (Werking, 1997). Consequently, heterosexual emerging adult women have more same- than cross-sex friends (Didonato & Strough, 2013). As the majority of sex segregation research has focused on the experiences of heterosexuals, little is known about the homosocial norm and sex segregation in lesbian emerging adults. In the present study we qualitatively investigated sex segregation in 15 lesbian emerging adult women aged 20-23. Women were asked about the sex of their friends, friendship enjoyment, and preferred activities with their friends. Themes were extracted from the data using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Four main themes were extracted from the data (representative quotes are in parentheses). First, women discussed having sex segregation in their friendships (“My friends are mostly female”; “I have a bunch of friends, they are obviously mostly girls”). Second, women reported feeling more comfortable with same-sex friends (“I am more outgoing around girls because they understand me better than guys”; “I feel like they (women) are easier to talk to”). Third, while women preferred same-sex friends, they also reported enjoying their cross-sex friendships (“Guys just want to chill and do things”; “Its never a stressful hang out”). Fourth, and finally, women discussed the impact that their feminist beliefs had on their friendships (“I can like see now how sexism has, like, impacted our friendships”; “Men that I am friends with are men that are incredibility vocally interested in talking about gender”). Overall, our qualitative study suggests that sex segregation exists in lesbian emerging adult women’s friendships. Similar to heterosexual emerging adults, sex segregation in lesbian emerging adult’s friendships may contribute to the socialization of gender-stereotyped attitudes and interests.

Speakers
CM

Clare Mehta

Emmanuel College


Saturday March 7, 2015 10:45am - 12:00pm
Washington