Assessing the Spectrum of Gender Norms Perceptions in Early Adolescence: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of the Global Early Adolescent Study

Caroline Moreau, Mengmeng Li, Saifuddin Ahmed, Xiayun Zuo, Beniamino Cislaghi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: There is increasing recognition that gender norms affect adolescent health and well-being. This study explores the consistency of adolescents' gender norm perceptions across different dimensions (roles, traits, relations) and describes how the patterns of these perceptions vary across four culturally different settings. Methods: The study includes 8,977 adolescents aged 10–14 years from Kinshasa, Shanghai, Cuenca, and Indonesia. Three gender norm scales were examined: sexual double standard, gender stereotypical traits, and stereotypical roles. We investigated patterns of gender norms across dimensions (roles, traits, and relations) and compared results between sites. We also examined how adolescents' individual responses across the scales compared with average responses in their site, to assess the consistency of their gender views. Results: Patterns of gender norms varied across sites, reflected in different levels of endorsement of each gender norms scale, from least equal in Kinshasa to most equal in Shanghai, while greater variation of perspectives across gender dimensions was noted in Cuenca and Indonesia. Moving from a societal to an individual perspective, most adolescents in each site (62%–67%) held both more progressive and less progressive views compared with their average peer depending on the gender dimension. Conclusions: Our study demonstrates the coexistence of multiple gender worldviews that are assessed and enacted as per adolescents' experiences and social context. Accounting for such complexities is essential for gender-transformative programs, as shifting gender attitudes in one area does not necessarily translate in more gender equitable views across other spheres of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S16-S22
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Early adolescence
  • Gender norms
  • Gender system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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