Benevolent but not benign: The role of white women's benevolent and hostile attitudes toward men in their support of other women

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Kruk, Mary
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
March 27, 2019
Committee Members:
  • Jessica Lynn Matsick, Thesis Advisor
  • Theresa K Vescio, Committee Member
  • Erin Allyson Heidt-Forsythe, Committee Member
  • gender
  • hiring
  • white women
  • benevolent sexism
  • hostile sexism
Feminist theorist Barry (1984) introduced the concept of the “male-identified woman”— women who place men above women in status and importance— to explain women’s lack of support for other women. Though this concept of male-identification has been well integrated into feminist theory through the writings of lesbian theorists (e.g., Rich) and through second-wave feminist activism (e.g., Radicalesbians), little attention is given to the consequences of women’s attitudes toward men in the social psychological study of gender. In the current research, we examined whether women’s attitudes toward men served as an important individual difference variable in women’s support of other women. We analyzed the role of White women’s attitudes toward men in their hiring evaluation of female and male job candidates via the Ambivalence toward Men Inventory (Glick & Fiske, 1999). Benevolence was revealed as a significantly moderating variable when evaluating a White male or female target (Study 1, N = 183) and both benevolence and hostility were significantly moderating variables when evaluating female and male targets of varying qualification (Study 2, N = 351). However, when evaluating targets that varied by race (Black or White) and gender (female or male) in Study 3 (N = 205), attitudes toward men did not emerge as a moderating variable. The results of these studies show the unique contribution of studying women’s attitudes toward men in opposition to solely studying men’s attitudes toward women or women’s attitudes toward other women. We discuss the implications of women’s attitudes toward men in the real-world context of political and professional representation, and ways in which White women can serve as stronger allies to disadvantaged groups.