Workplace backlash toward agentic women: an intersectional approach

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Anna Marie Schnerre (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Erin Myers

Abstract: In order to succeed and advance as professionals in the modern workplace, women must exhibit agentic behavior (i.e., displaying confidence, dominance), due to the traditionally valued characteristics. However, because agentic behavior is a violation of female gender stereotypes, these women may be evaluated more negatively on a variety of social- and performance-related outcomes than women who conform to gender stereotypes. This process has been termed backlash (Rudman, 1998). The present study explored the ways in which race impacts how agentic women experience backlash in the workplace. Using a between-subjects design, participants were randomly assigned to conditions (i.e., Black, Latina, White, or Asian woman) and asked to evaluate an agentic female potential job candidate on various backlash-related measures. Based on past research (Sanchez-Hucles & Davis, 2010), it was expected that a hierarchical pattern would emerge with Latina women receiving the highest levels of general backlash, White women receiving the lowest levels of general backlash, and Black and Asian women in between. The specific type of backlash (agentic deficiency backlash, agentic penalty backlash) each candidate received was also explored. Results indicated no significant differences among the groups of women for both general backlash, as well as the specific types of backlash. Limitations and implications of these findings are discussed, as well as future directions.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2018
backlash, gender, intersectionality, race, workplace
Gender identity -- Social aspects
Women -- Identity
Minority women
Sex role
Stereotypes (Social psychology)

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