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Language Study Explores What Society Values — And Doesn’t — In Each Gender

Strong men. Caring women. Could those descriptors be switched around — caring men, strong women?

Of course they could, but a new study from the Pew Research Center shows that the words we associate with men and women may not be as fluid as we think.

The study looks at how Americans describe what society values — and doesn’t — in each gender.

They surveyed more than 4,500 Americans, and asked them questions like “what traits or characteristics do you think people in our society value most in women?” Or “what characteristics do you think women should not have?”  

They answered with more than 1,500 unique words, and some clear trends emerged. Traits like strength and ambition are valued highly for men, compassion and kindness are particularly valued for women.

The Show sat down with Cindi SturtzSreetharan, who studies linguistics at Arizona State University, to talk more about this study.

Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.