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California Opinions on Women's Issues -- 1985-1995
Elizabeth N. Nelson and Edward E. Nelson, California State University, Fresno

Chapter 5
Exercises Using Data from 1995 Field Poll on Women's Issues

© The Authors, 1998; Last Modified 15 August 1998
In the previous chapter we discussed data analysis. In this chapter you will have an opportunity to analyze data. The exercises in this chapter start at a fairly simple level and become more complex. The final exercise asks you to define your own problem and carry out the analysis. (Your instructor may choose to supplement these exercises with some of his or her own.) You will be using your computer facilities to do these exercises, but there is no assumption that you know anything about computers before you start. Every effort has been made to minimize what you will have to learn about computers. Your instructor will provide you with the necessary information.


One of the questions in the data set asks respondents whether there are "more advantages in being a man, more advantages in being a woman, or ... no more advantages in being one or the other." We want to find out some of the factors that are related to this opinion. Specifically, we want to know if men and women differ in their opinions, and whether education is related to how one feels about this matter.


The Field Poll included two very interesting questions about housework. One of the questions asks who should clean the house when both the husband and the wife work full time outside the home; the other asks who actually does most of the housework in the home. These questions open a number of intriguing opportunities for analysis.


Another question asks respondents if they "favor or oppose efforts to strengthen and change women's status in society today." As in exercise one, we want to find out how some of the factors are related to one's opinion. We will focus on the relationship of sex, education, and age to opinions regarding women's status.


  1. Choose one of the questions about women's status and roles (V5 to V17) as a dependent variable. What is the variable name? Using the information in the codebook, write a sentence describing the responses to that question.
  2. What variables do you think might be related to your dependent variable? Write down the ways in which these variables (i.e., your independent variables) might be related to the dependent variable. Be sure to explain the rationale underlying each hypothesis. (Review the discussion of hypotheses in Chapter Three.) In other words, explain why you think this hypothesis should be true.

  3. For example, you might think that age would be related to the dependent variable such that, as age increases, your dependent variable decreases. Explain why age should be related to your dependent variable in this manner. Include at least three hypotheses.

    One hypothesis should consider the relationship between sex and your dependent variable. (Would you expect men and women to be similar or different? Why? The rationale for your hypothesis should be organized as an argument leading us to conclude that your hypothesis is plausible.)

    A second hypothesis should consider the relationship between your dependent variable and another social-status variable (e.g., age, race, education).

    A third hypothesis should consider the relationship between one of the opinion variables (e.g., favor or oppose efforts to strengthen or change women's status) or behavior variables (e.g., who cleans house when both spouses work) and the dependent variable. You may consider more than three hypotheses that can be tested with these data.

  4. Obtain the two-variable tables needed to check on your hypotheses. One crosstab should consider possible sex differences. The other tables should include one other social-status characteristic from the background data (V18 to V33) and one opinion or behavior variable (V1 to V17) as independent variables. Present these in the form of individual tables with a short written summary of the results of each table that links it back to the hypotheses considered.
  5. Then choose one of your two-variable crosstabs and explore the relationship (or lack of relationship) more fully using another variable as a control. For example, you might want to consider the relationship between sex and your dependent variable controlling for such variables as age, income, or education. Restate your hypothesis as clearly as possible. Indicate why you selected this control variable. Present the three-variable table with a written summary that considers this hypothesis.
  6. Write a brief summary of your findings. Be sure to discuss your hypotheses and whether the data support the hypotheses. What were the most important findings in your analysis?

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