Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The major hypothesis of this study was that the married state conveys a performance benefit to the male student and is a detriment to the female student. Differential effects of marriage by sex were hypothesized to be related to traditional sex-role concepts such that married female students receive less spouse support and have more role conflict than the male. The hypotheses were tested with law students and veterinary medical students. Performance was measured with GPA, and measures of spouse support and role conflict were developed from weightings of judges for items in a structured telephone interview. Different results were obtained for veterinary students who were accepted the first time they applied than for those who were not accepted and reapplied. For veterinary students who were accepted the first time they applied, the main hypothesis was supported, and married female students had significantly more role conflict than males. For veterinary students who had applied previously, married students of both sexes performed significantly better than single students. Married students who had applied previously received significantly higher levels of spouse support than did married students who were accepted the first time they applied. For law students, the major hypothesis was not supported, and there were not significant differences by sex for role conflict or spouse support. Differences between the two groups of veterinary students were interpreted as reflecting different levels of motivation. Differences between veterinary and law students were believed to be related to different sex-role concepts. Veterinary medical students are more likely to be more stereotypically male or female, while law students of both sexes are more likely to hold moderately masculine self-concepts. There was evidence that married female law students are highly strategic in minimizing role conflict when it will directly affect performance. For males, it was postulated that there are differences in criteria for spouse selection, with the veterinary medical student being more likely to select a wife with traditional sex-role concepts.