Gender Difference



Running Head:  Gender Difference In  Book Carrying
















Gender Differnces In Book

 Carrying Styles Of Individuals of Different Ages

Yoshua U. Kushkituah

LeMoyne College














Gender Difference





This study was conducted to determine whether gender differences affected book and bag carrying styles. Jenni (1976) and Thommen et al. (1993) examined carrying behavior between genders. Due to limitations in their studies, the current study believed there could also be differences in bag carrying styles. Naturalistically, an equal amount of males and females were observed. This was completed in major academic buildings throughout the day. Faculty, staff, and students had an equal opportunity to be observed. The results show our study replicated Jenni's: females use Type I (books in front of body), males preferred Type II (books at side of body). For bag carrying, males prefer backpacks, while females prefer one/two-strap bags. However, no differences exist in carrying style.






















Gender Difference



Gender Difference In Book Carrying



 There has always been a difference in the way the two genders do things in life.  From smaller things that are always overlooked, to major things that are more obvious, these differences has existed throughout the existence of life.  It is natural for the sexes to have dissimilarities in the way they do or view various things.  As human beings, we can not let it end there, but rather, we must ask why.  This study examines the difference of a particular habit of the two genders, book carrying. 

This subject has been investigated by a couple researches already.   Mary A. Jenni (1976-1978), has examined the carrying styles of individuals as well as Evelyne Thommen, Emiel Rieth, and Christiane Steffen (1985-1990).  They have done similar researches on the topic considering the relationship of gender and method of book carrying.  Though both of their observational researches had similarities, they also had minor dissimilarities, with major differences in their results. 

 Mary Jenni based her research on three types of carrying styles; 1)  Books partially cover the front of body. A)  one arm wrap around books  B)  both arms wrapped around books  2)  Books at side of body  C)Arm fully extended at side of body.  D)  Arm fully extended at side of body  E)  Elbow flexed, books raised along side of body  3)  Any variety of positions characteristic of neither type 1  nor 2.  Jenni researched 6 colleges, 2 high schools, and a public library in the United States, Canada, and Central America (ages mixed between approximately 18-75).  As a result of Jenni’s research, she found that mostly females tend to use Type 1 method of book carrying (82%Females,3%males), mostly Method A, as males tend to dominate the Type 2 style (96%males,16% females), mostly Method D.  She also noticed that females used Type 2 more often then males used Type 1.  Also, she found that 2% of the females and 1% of the males used the “other” methods. 

 Thommen et al., using the same labels of carrying styles, though, has come up with a rather different result.  His study was based in the University of Geneva, Switzerland.  Thommen et al. took another approach to the study, he wanted to prove that other factors may have lead to the results of the gender’s choice of book carrying.  A total of 2602 adult subjects were observed, 1257 males and 1345 females.  He found that from 43-60% females used the Type 2 method which was dominated by males in Jenni’s observation, where she reported approximately 16% females used this particular method.  He also reported that the men dominated the Type 2 method with more then 90% usage. 

The men’s method of carrying books has been stable between the two studies, but as for the women, it has been rather inconsistent.  One reason for this may have been the change of locations as Jenni did her observation in North America, Central America, and Canada and Thommen et al. did his in Switzerland.  There can be a change in culture as some may have different views.  Also, the time difference may also be a factor.  Jenni did her study in 1976-1978 as Thommen et al. did his in 1985-1990.  As time changes, of course, our style alters along with it.  This can be an example as the change of book carrying took place, it can be a simple case of time difference as well. 

Both Thommen et al. and Jenni’s study, with only a few changes, could be renewed to have a more accurate result.  Since one reason for the difference between both of their studies may have been the 10 year gap between the studies, it would only be beneficial to do another study in the new millennium.  In doing a new research, based on the work of Jenni and Thommen et al, new found discoveries may occur. 

Using the campus of Lemoyne college as an observation location, this study is resurrected.  Without discriminating any ages (age range dominated around 18-60 approximately), mostly college students dominated the area though as we observed LeMoyne College Campus facilities.  Not only did we study the book carrying style of the genders, we also studied the bag carrying style of them as well in an even amount.  A lot of students has adapted to a new style of carrying books, which is through using book bags and handbags.  A third study in the new millennium would be interesting to compare to the two prior studies starting two centuries ago.  With this information, we do not know whether or not there is a correlation between gender and the styles of book and bag carrying.  This is one observation that both Jenni and Thommen et al. seemed to overlook.  Knowing that there is a significant difference between book carrying styles between the genders, since book bags count as book carrying, we can assume that there would be some type of difference in book bag carrying styles as well.  It seems that males tend to dominate the Type II method of book carrying as females tend to choose the Type I method, but with slightly more flexibility then males (meaning there are more females using Type II then there are males using Type I)

            Jenni and Thommen et al. study may have had a flaw.  They based their study on the book carrying styles of genders, their choice of methods, but they excluded the usage of other major carrying styles, this may have limited their studies.  The use of book bags and handbags has become very popular.  This addition to the study can be very essential to the results, as it almost completes the actual carrying methods of the genders.  The carrying styles of books may also have carried on to different carrying methods between the genders and bag carrying as well.  Their difference in results may also have been dedicated to their difference in location as well.  There was a big age difference between the two researches as well. Jenni studied high school students (some between the ages of 14-16) and college students and Thommen et al. focused more on college students.  Thommen et al. observed how Jenni studied the younger students and found a flaw.  Younger students seem to not have adjusted to the variety of carrying styles, but rather more dominated by the Type II method.  As it is observed, Thommen et al.’s research states, “Analyses indicated an absence of differences in carrying behavior of kindergarten children, as most young children (between 60 and 80%) carry books at the side in one hand (Type II).  “

To better the understanding of the observation and to make the research more precise, we decided to investigate whether there is a relationship between gender and the type of bag being carried as well as the way the bag is being carried. An observational study was conducted at Lemoyne College examining the book and back carrying methods of male and female students, faculty, and staff.  The males and females were examined in equal amounts at various times of the day.  With a list of three types of carrying styles (Type I, type II, and other) they were all categorized precisely in this observation. 




            Faculty, students, and staff of Lemoyne College in Syracuse, NY were observed.  They were being observed in the heavy traffic of the hallways at the college.  A total of 280 participants were observed, these participants were broken up into different observational categories.  An equal amount of males and females were recorded.  With 140 males observed, half of them that were observed were carrying books while the other half used carrying bags.  There were also 140 females observed with 70 carrying books and 70 others using bags. 



            Each observer was provided with an observation sheet for this examination.  This sheet consist of different methods or carrying styles that were to be observed and reported as each individual walked pass.   These individuals were put observed under two different categories with different methods; book carrying and bag carrying.  Under each category, different styles were listed for the observer to report.  For the book carriers, the number of books, location, arm position, finger position, and position of books were all listed with more in-depth  carrying styles.  For the bag users, the type of bag, strategy of usages, positions of hands, and number of items in hands were all listed with in-depth bag usage styles listed as well.  Each observer had a specific time of day and location on campus to do this examination.  Jenni and Thommen et al. both had their own definition of Type I and Type II carrying styles. 

These definitions were adopted for this examination. 


            This examination took place March 4th, 2004 in Syracuse, NY at LeMoyne College.  The observers were given a particular time to examine a given amount of students, staff, faculty in the heavy traffic hallways of the college.  The observers basically patiently waited in an area where they could view students without being seen.  Various areas were chosen for this task.  This observation took place at various times of the day; morning, evening, and night. 

            There were a set of instructions given to each observer to keep an accurate response to each examination. There were a total of 35 of observers in this particular research study.   Each observer observed 2 males carrying books, 2 males carrying bags, 2 females carrying books and also 2 females carrying bags.  While observing each participant with the caution of not being suspicious, the observer made it one of their priorities not to make the mistake of reporting any extra participants other then what was instructed.  If there happen to be a participant that would overload a specific section of the observation that was no longer needed, they were overlooked until another reportable participant came along. 

            Each observer had to observe and examine with haste.  As a participant would walk by, the observer’s job would be to quickly observe and report the carrying postures and demographic information that was seen.  The observation sheet contained different sections that were to be circled as the participant went on his/her way.  In case the participant was in a rush, the observational sheet was purposely made simple but detailed so that the observer would be able to complete it in seconds.


            It is a given fact that there is a significant difference between gender, book, types of bags carried, and bag carrying methods.  Each of the studies done has shown some type of instability between the relationship of the genders and decisions of book and bag carrying styles.  This observation had an equal amount of males and females that were examined.  There was a recording to the book carrying styles, types of bags, and bag carrying styles for each of them, but they all were separately examined.  Knowing that there is a significant difference between book carrying styles between the genders, since book bags count as book carrying, we can not overlook the possibility that there would be some type of difference in book bag carrying styles as well.  With the precise observational methods of the observers, the data that was recorded was coded.  There were three book carrying styles that were categorized into three types of methods

(Type I=books partially cover front of body, Type II=books at side of body, Type Other=any other method used).  The number of males and females using Type I, Type II, and other styles were counted.  Thommen et al. based their study on college students after finding that younger students in high schools or lower basically dominate Type II carrying methods, both genders.  Jenni, on the contrary, didn’t notice this new found discovery, so she studied both high school  students as well as college students.  Jenni also studied three continents as Thommen et al. felt that this would be a flaw, knowing that each culture has cultural differences which may skew the data somewhat.

Table 1 contains the data reported at LeMoyne College, showing the relationship of the genders and carrying styles.  There was also a Chi-square contingency test used to determine whether there was a relationship between gender and book carrying styles.  This reported that there was a statistically significant relationship.  The degree of freedom was then calculated for book carrying, resulting in 2 [df=(2-1)(3-1)].  The critical value are the values above which a significant relationship is identified.  At the p=0.01 level, our degree of freedom (2) is 9.21.  .  The obtained Chi-square values for the analysis of book carrying totaled to 71.94 (X2 =71.94).  With our obtained value being higher then 9.21, this means that a relationship is found.

It seems that males tend to dominate the Type II method of book carrying as females tend to choose the Type I method, but with slightly more flexibility then males (meaning there are more females using Type II then there are males using Type I).  Our study seemed to be replication of both Thommen et al.’s research as well as Jenni’s.  Our strategy was adopted from Thommen et. al as far as choosing one college to observe participants.  Our location in the United States is similar to Jenni’s as she did part of hers in the U.S. 

Another area of interest arose as observers argue that another style of book carrying methods should be included. They wondered if there would be a correlation in gender and bag carrying styles.  Lately, individuals have been using book bags or hand bags to carry their books.  This counts as a method of carrying books, so the observers included a new category, bag carrying styles.  Bag carrying styles were put into three different categories: backpacks, one strap, and two strap bags.  Any bag worn on the back with two straps would be reported as a backpack.  Any back with one strap being carried in the arms or by the handle would be considered a one strap back.  Any bag being carried with two straps would be considered a two strap bag.   The number of males and females observed were equally counted; refer to table 2 for more detailed information on the number and percentage of male/females that used each method. 

A Chi-square contingency test was used to determine whether there was a relationship between sex and type of bag carried.  It was reported that there was a statistically significant correlation between gender and bag carrying styles.  The Chi-squared value totaled to 17.863 (X2 =17.863).  The degree of freedom calculated once again at 2 [df-(2-1)(3-1)].  The critical value for this degree of freedom came at p=0.01 level, showing that there is a relationship found. 

With an equal amount of males and females observed, the genders did have very different methods of bag carrying.  With 45 males choosing backpacks, 24 choosing one strap, and 1 choosing a two strap bag, 70 males were observed for this study.  With 23 females choosing backpacks, 35 choosing one strap bags, and only 12 choosing two strap bags, 70 females were also observed in this study.  In results, males seem to choose backpacks over both one and two strap bags; for women, they seem to decide to use one strap bags over two strap bags and book bags. 

In order to further look into the bag carrying styles of the genders, observers became interested in whether any gender differences were observed bag carrying styles.  Would it be possible for males and females to also have different bag carrying styles as they did have book carrying styles?  Would gender alter the bag carrying styles of different types of bags?  This observation would further the study, there maybe a correlation between gender and, not only type of bag being carried but also, bag carrying styles.  To do this part of the study, three carrying styles were identified:  Wearing on body, carried over one shoulder, and other.  A bag being worn with no assistance of hands would be considered wearing on body (i.e. wearing the bag on your back).  Any bag being carried with one strap over your shoulder would be considered “carried over one shoulder”. Last, any other style used would be just considered “other”.  Each participant’s style of bag carrying is to be computed separately, refer to Table 3 for detailed information.  Table 3 contains the information of the number of people utilizing each of the three carrying styles for the genders and their bags. 

A Chi-squared contingency test was used to determine whether there was a relationship between carrying style and type of bag carried.  The results reported that there was statistically a significant relationship between gender and bag carrying styles.  The Chi-squared value reported to come out to 23.04 (X2 =23.04).  The degree of freedom once again came out to 2 because the number of styles and gender equal to the earlier research [df=(2-1)(3-1)].  With the critical value of p=0.01, for our degree of freedom (2), our p-value is 9.21.  With this given data, there seems to be no real preference of carrying styles amongst genders.  It seems that gender does not determine any carrying preferences.

There may be some type of correlation between bag carrying styles for backpacks and one strap bags by gender.  Different bag styles may lead to different carrying styles as well.  To examine this observation, we had to report each bag separately in order to look for sex differences in carrying styles.  For this observation, the males and females were separated into three categories (



















Jenni, M. A. (1976).  Sex differences in carrying behavior.  Perceptual and Motor Skills,

43, 323-330.

Rekers, A. G., Mead, S. (1979).  Human sex differences in carrying behaviors: a replication and            extension.  Perceptual and Motor Skills, 48, 625-626.

Thommen, E., Reith, E., Steffen, C., (1993).  Gender-related book-carrying behavior: a            reexamination.  Perceptual and Motor Skills, 76, 355-362.

















Table 1

Book Carrying Styles in Males and Females


Gender                         Type I                          Type II                         Other


Males                               7                                    58                               5

Females                          57                                    12                               1


Note. Type I is book carrying against or in front of the body. Type II is book carrying at the side of the body. Other is any book carrying style that does not fit into Type I or Type II.
















Table 2

Type of Bag preferred by Males and Females


Gender                         Backpacks                   One Strap                    Two Strap


Males                                  45                               24                                  1

Females                               23                               35                                  12


Note. Backpacks are bags made to wear on the back. One strap refers to bags with only one strap or handle. Two strap refers to bags with two straps or handles.















Table 3

Bag Carrying Styles for Males and Females


Type of Bag                 Wearing on Body                     Carried over 1 shoulder                     Other


Backpack                                  52                                                 15                                        1

One Strap                                 15                                                 40                                        4

Two Strap                                  2                                                   6                                         5


Note. Wearing on body refers to bags that are worn on the back or diagonally across the body. Carried over one shoulder simply means that the bag is carried over only one shoulder. Other refers to all other carrying behavior. Backpacks are bags made to wear on the back. One strap refers to bags with only one strap or handle. Two strap refers to bags with two straps or handles.








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