Student: Danielle Cordray, Catherine Glass*, Marley Marcinczyk, Samantha Novak and Francesca Varriale
Mentor: Christina Taylor
Surveys show that while most women in the US believe that the women’s movement has made their lives better, only 24% identify themselves as feminists. This underscores the need for developing strategies to mitigate this obstacle to the achievement of gender equality. In this study, provision of a definition of feminism was explored as a strategy to reduce the dissonance between beliefs in feminist values and identifying as a feminist. A sample of 440 undergraduates rated a male or female actor under one of three conditions: feminist, feminist defined, and nonfeminist. On 10 of 16 trait ratings, feminists and nonfeminists were rated similarly. Contrary to prediction, MANOVA results showed that defining feminism did not generally result in more favorable ratings of actors identified as feminists. Of note, male but not female feminists, were rated lower on heterosexuality. Consistent with previous findings, a majority of the female participants, 74.6%, said that they believed in some or most of the goals of the feminist movement, but did not identify themselves as feminist. These results underscore the need for further research on techniques to reduce prejudice against feminists.
* Honors Senior