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Adolescence. 1991 Spring;26(101):217-22.

A critique of adolescent pregnancy prevention research: the invisible white male.

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DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois 60604.


This study examined sex and race bias in recently published research on adolescent pregnancy prevention. Descriptive statistics from 71 citations showed that of 33 articles that focused on a single sex, only one was on males (inner city, presumably minority). Of the remaining articles, the majority either did not differentiate between the sexes or provided only minimal data on sex differences. The consequences of research that ignores or minimizes the male contribution to the adolescent pregnancy problem are discussed.


The examination of gender bias is made in the search through US research on adolescent pregnancy prevention published between the Summer, 1985 and Fall, 1988. 71 citations were analyzed and included original research, review articles, editorials, and letters generated through Medline and PsychLit databases. 33 articles focused on a single sex (32 on female, 1 on males); 38 were on both sexes with females predominating, of which 18 were gender neutral of nondifferentiating, 19 provided minimal sex differences, and only 1 used gender in the analysis. Of the 21 ethnic articles, 2 and a half times more studies were done on minorities as whites (15 versus 6). 56% did not specify ethnic origins. The consequence of sex-based or sex-neutral research is the reinforcement of cultural bias and it contributes to the problem. Cultural assumptions behind methodologies needs to be explored. The focus is problematic female behavior that needs explanation and change. Males thus become invisible in their irresponsibility for fertility decisions. All pregnancy prevention research shows that female attitudes and behavior are more conducive to change. The larger problem of male attitudes becomes obfuscated. Research focusing on adolescents is also problematic because of the power imbalance or the sexual double standard, which is ignored in sex natural research. It has been found that low female influence on sexual decisions is related to more frequent coitus and less regular contraceptive use. Considered opinion is that no power differential would deemphasize pregnancy prevention on women. Terminology used indicated that adolescent in the title referred to females only or both sexes. The only male article was also identified as inner city. There was no generic terms for white males, in spite of the bulk of medical and social research with generic terms referring to white males. Qualifiers are used for women and minorities. Inner city, urban, and low socioeconomic status (SES) terms were frequently related to blacks or other minorities. Whites of low SES and blacks of high SES are invisible. Factors are not differentiated in the association with economic or minority status and/or culture. Although black teenage pregnancies are not the majority of teen pregnancies, this is imprinted in the public mind. The rate only is greater, but racial differences have declined recently. Research should no reflect sexist assumptions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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