Bem’s Sex Role Types

Brief Overview
Bem’s theory refers to the theory that children learn about what it means to be male and female from the culture in which they live.  According to this theory, children adjust their behavior to fit in with the gender norms and expectations of their culture.
About the Author

Dr. Sandra Lipsitz Bem is a noted psychologist and women’s studies professor who pioneered work on psychological androgyny and gender schema theory and has created a substantial body of work regarding the prominence of sex role stereotyping and its effects on Western culture and individual psychology.

For more information on Bem, please visit:

Printable Summary (PDF)

Previous cohorts of FSU students have developed these printable summaries and used them to prepare for test and papers.  We hope they’ll be of help to you too.

Stages, Levels, Phases, and Components of the Theory

Stages, Levels, Phases, and Components of the Theory:  

  • High on masculinity and femininity: Androgynous
  • Low on masculinity and femininity: Undifferentiated
  • High on masculinity and low on femininity: Masculine
  • Low on masculinity and high on femininity: Feminine
Application of Theory to Practice

This section is designed to provide student affairs professionals, staff, and faculty members with tips and tools to apply theory to practice.

Annotations of Associated Literature

Annotations listed below are associated with the author’s original work to provided a more in-depth look at the theory.

Original Citation
Additional Resources

Submitted by Sam C. Ehrlich

This Prezi presentation outlines gender and gender identity development and applies it to student affairs in higher education.  While this presentation is fairly short, it covers a lot of ground.  To start, it gives a number of definitions for key terms in sexual and gender identity theory, including an outline of the differences between sex and gender.  The presentation next covers Lev’s Binary and Alternative Models, and includes the various stages and critiques of each theory.  The presentation then covers a few theories—the Bem Sex Role Inventory, Bem’s Gender Schema Theory, and Bilodeau’s Transgender Identity Development Theory—that were covered only briefly in the textbook, but are important to understanding gender and transgender theory.  Finally, the presentation presents some applications of these theories to higher education as well as a critique of the use of unified gender theory for college students.

While gender theory can be complex and is still very much under ongoing development, presentation is useful for understanding some of the more important theories of gender and gender identity development and their application to higher education.

This page was written and created by Ashlie Baty. The webpage is maintained by Amanda Peerce and Jesse Ford.  For information on the page, please contact Amanda Peerce at or Jesse Ford at