Federal Study Seeks ‘Gender Norms Change’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is spending nearly $1 million on a study that seeks to change gender norms to prevent sexual assault, teaching young men to resist “rigid masculinity.”

The project seeks to produce “healthy masculinities” in young black males in Pittsburgh, using a curriculum called “Manhood 2.0.” The curriculum involves “identifying examples of policing gender and sexuality” and teaches young men that masculinity is not about physical strength.

Elizabeth Miller, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh who is leading the study, said it is her “dream project.” Miller provided a fact sheet on her study, which details its goals of “gender norms change.”

“This study will provide urgently needed information about the effectiveness of a gender transformative program that combines healthy sexuality skills, gender norms change, and bystander skills to interrupt peers’ disrespectful and harmful behaviors to reduce SV/ARA [sexual violence and adolescent relationship abuse] perpetration among adolescent males,” the summary stated.

The study is enrolling 900 teenagers in 14 community centers in Pittsburgh into its “Manhood 2.0 curriculum” or a job skills program, to see which program is better at changing attitudes about sexual assault.