School Gender Culture and Student Subjective Well-Being


Reynolds, John R. & Bamford, Melissa J. (2015). School Gender Culture and Student Subjective Well-Being. Sex Roles. vol. 74 (1-2) pp. 62-77


This study explores the impact of school gender culture in the United States on boys’ and girls’ attachment to school and symptoms of depression. We consider multiple dimensions of school gender culture and hypothesize that student subjective well-being is lower in schools with a lower percentage of females, stronger orientations toward marriage, more prevalent contact sports, and a student body that engages more often in fighting and drinking. xThe hypotheses are derived from theories of gendered organizations, heteronormativity, and hypermasculinity. Analyses of a national sample of middle and high school students in the U.S. (5,847 girls, 5,347 boys) from the 1994–95 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health show considerable variation in school gender cultures, and regression analyses yield some support for the hypotheses. A higher proportion of female students is associated with fewer depressive symptoms among girls as predicted, but weaker school attachment for boys. The results more consistently supported the hypotheses that student well-being suffers in schools where more classmates get into fights or get drunk. Finally, we find no evidence that student subjective well-being is affected by contexts in which marital plans are more prevalent or greater proportions of students play collision contact sports. We find some evidence that school gender composition and school contexts of fighting and drinking are consequential for student subjective well-being. We reject the hypothesis that school levels of marriage orientations and contact sports participation undermine student well-being. Overall, more work is needed in the conceptualization and measurement of school gender cultures.



Gender culture School attachment Depressive symptoms

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Journal Article

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Sex Roles


Reynolds, John R.
Bamford, Melissa J.

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