Anything you can do I can do better: an exploration of the experiences and perceptions of drinking and gender identity in the drinking choices of college women

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
S. Elizabeth Likis-Werle (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
L. DiAnne Borders

Abstract: College drinking is a focus of national attention due to its widespread impact on academic, social, interpersonal, and health domains of student life. Although men have historically had higher rates of drinking than women, college is a developmental time frame in which women's drinking rates have increased (Johnston, O'Malley, Bachman, & Shulenberg, 2011; Wechsler et al., 2002). The substance abuse literature has been dominated by studies of men's behavior and risk factors (Covington & Surrey, 1997; Linowski, 2004; NIAAA, 2002; Plant, 2008; Ricciardelli, Connor, Williams, & Young, 2001; Russett, 2008; Smith & Berger, 2010; Smith & Weisner, 2000) and has been stunted by the lack of attention to how women may approach drinking differently than men. Drinking increases need attention because college women are at risk of experiencing consequences from high risk drinking and, as gender roles continue to evolve toward a more egalitarian orientation, current female college students may be influenced by different gender identity expectations than females in previous generations. Researchers have only begun to frame the relationship between gender role, gender identity, and drinking (Huselid & Cooper, 1992; Peralta, Steele, Nofziger, & Rickles, 2010; Smith, Toadvine, & Kennedy, 2009). Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative study was to gain the college female perspective on how experiences and perceptions of drinking and gender identity may contribute to drinking choices. Qualitative data from two focus groups and two individual interviews with a total of nine participants were analyzed employing Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Though there were similarities across all participants regarding their drinking experiences and their perceptions of gender identity, IPA yielded different themes among High Risk vs. Low Risk drinkers. Specifically, an association between how women think of themselves, their Gender Identity, was different for High Risk drinkers than for Low Risk drinkers. High Risk participants tended to identify more with being female and expressing femininity, whereas Low Risk drinkers did not place much importance on this part of their identity. Similarities and contrasts are discussed in light of the previous research, implications for counselors and counselor educators are highlighted, and areas for future research are recommended.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Alcohol, College Women, Gender Identity, High Risk Drinking, Qualitative, Women's substance abuse
Gender identity
Women $x Identity
Women college students $x Alcohol use $z United States
Drinking of alcoholic beverages $x Sex differences $z United States

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