Professor says gender-integrated Scouting is a step forward

Scout uniform

The effect of same-sex communities on child development is an issue that’s been making the rounds since The Boy Scouts of America announced that in 2018 girls will be allowed into dens across the country.

In an Oct. 20 interview, C.J. Pascoe, associate professor of sociology at the UO, told Phoenix Public Radio station KJZZ  that concerns about such changes are overblown. She said the supposed benefits of same-sex institutions have been debunked.

“I don’t think that at this point in history that we necessarily want to encourage children to develop their identities in line with gender stereotypes that research has shown are harmful to their development,” she said.

Pascoe explained that same-sex institutions encourage gender stereotypes. She said that the Boy Scouts focus on issues of dominance and aggression through rough-and-tumble play while Girl Scouts are taught to be cooperative and compliant.

“Why would we think that having an all-male space is important, and what is so threatening about having women in that particular space?” Pascoe said. “And conversely, I think our boys could benefit greatly by being in spaces that were designed to emphasize traits that we don’t normally encourage in our boys, like empathy or compliance or kindness or cooperation.”

Pascoe said that while gender integration is a start, it alone isn’t enough. She suggests that the next step is to provide leadership that models gender equality.

For more, listen to “Sociology Professor Weighs in on Boy Scout's Decision to Welcome Girls” on KJZZ.

Pascoe’s research focuses on masculinity, youth, homophobia, sexism and new media. She currently teaches courses on sexuality, social psychology and gender at the UO. She won the American Educational Research Association’s 2007 Book of the Year Award for her book “Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School,” which examines the relationship between harassment and masculinity in high school, and is currently working on a new book on youth cultures.