Illustration by Maren Slobody
Illustration by Maren Slobody

UC Santa Cruz psychology graduate student Rachael Robnett and professor Campbell Leaper recently conducted a survey about gender roles in marriage entitled “Girls Don’t Propose! Ew.” Questions on this survey included, “If you were to get engaged, who would you want to propose?” and “To what extent would you be willing to take your partner’s name?”

The possible responses consist of such answers as “I would definitely want to propose,” “It doesn’t matter who proposes” and “I would definitely want my partner to propose.” The answers were then categorized based on the gender of participants.

The survey found, surprisingly, that not one woman would definitely want to propose, and not one man would definitely want their partner to propose.

The results of the survey were published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on Jan. 21. The headline of the article said the psychology study “reveals [UCSC] students have traditional marriage preferences.”

While it’s interesting (and disappointing) that the students surveyed for this study believe in outdated gender roles, City on a Hill Press finds this study oversimplified student views on marriage. The title “Girls Don’t Propose! Ew,” while apparently reflected in the results of the survey, is just downright tacky, and only serves to paint an image of the subjects of this study as immature and childish.

In addition, the survey’s focus on heterosexual students presents another quandary. The conditions of the survey may have aimed to provide perspective on traditional gender roles specifically as they apply to men and women, however the wording of the questions and answers was misleading.

Given its focus on male-female relationships, it’s confusing that the survey included language like “I would definitely want my partner to propose” and “Would you be willing to take your partner’s name?” The gender-neutral term “partner” implies that the survey did not have to be specific to the purely heterosexual populace the survey chose to pursue. It was disingenous of the survey to use a gender-neutral term but then only survey heterosexuals.

We at City on a Hill Press take issue with the way this survey generalized the views of the undergraduate student body when lesbian, gay, bisexual and other non-heterosexual students are not represented in the findings. The questions of the survey are also neutral enough that students of any and all sexual orientations could and should have been included in the sampling.

We commend the surveyors for contributing to the body of research that has come out of UCSC. However, we are discontented with the way the data was presented, which made it seem as though the survey could speak for the views of the entire undergraduate student body.

We would be hard pressed to accept that a survey excluding non-heterosexual students can be said to represent all student views. The results are certainly telling, surprising and unexpected, and could serve to illustrate that we really do latch onto gender roles and traditions more than one might guess. However, it must be questioned whether this survey can really be an indicator of the views of the entire student body given the unfair generalization of the survey and the exclusive focus on heterosexual students.