Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2004


Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 14, No. 2, 2004. Copyright © 2004 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


How do women from patriarchal cultures adapt to gender equality and feminism in the Great Plains? How do women from Eastern Europe change as a result of living in a gender-neutral environment? The study (I) identifies the major cultural differences that Eastern European women perceive between gender-related norms in Eastern Europe and the American Midwest, (2) examines the strategies that women use to cope with these differences, and (3) investigates when encounters with American feminists help and when they hinder immigrants' adaptation.

Eastern European culture is characterized by a greater separation of gender roles and little concern about sexism. Women from this region perceive male and female behavior in American culture as ambiguous and gender-neutral. They observe egalitarian gender relations in the US, but do not prefer the forms of male-female interaction that this involves. They adapt to US culture behaviorally but do not significantly change their values about gender relations. The negative attitude of feminist activists toward gender roles in Eastern Europe often creates resistance toward American ways and slows immigrants' adaptation.