The Role of Family and Academic Support in the Relationship between Gender Role Beliefs and Psychosocial Distress among Latina College Students



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College is a time marked by a significant level of stress, especially for Latina students. One of the changes that often occurs during an individual's time in college involves one's gender role beliefs, shifting from traditional gender role beliefs to more liberal beliefs. Though a great deal of research has been done to show that college attendance plays an important role in the liberalization of gender role beliefs, little is known about this relationship for Latina students. This is particularly problematic as Latina students face unique challenges on the college campus, including issues relating to acculturation. Because the Latino cultural norms often dictate women to be dependent on their family, a move towards nontraditionalism can create family conflict and intragroup marginalization, both of which can contribute to psychosocial distress in ethnic minority groups. As Latina students face unique educational challenges, and may develop family conflicts, a supportive academic environment may serve to buffer some negative effects. This study conceptualizes this supportive environment as "academic families" which foster family like relationships in the college setting. This study examined the relationships between gender role beliefs, family conflict, family intragroup marginalization, academic family support, and psychosocial distress among a sample of 170 Latina college students to get a clearer picture of how changing gender roles impact this population. A statistically significant relationship was found between gender role beliefs and family intragroup marginalization, as well as between gender role beliefs and family conflict, though different from initially hypothesized. A statistically significant relationship was also found between family conflict and psychosocial distress, though academic family support was not shown to moderate this relationship. Implications for researchers and educators are also discussed.