Changing versus protecting the status quo: Why men and women engage in different types of action on behalf of women

Helena R. M. Radke*, Matthew J. Hornsey, Fiona Kate Barlow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We investigate women's and men's willingness to engage in action on behalf of women, and we identify two distinct categories of behavior: action that aims to challenge gender inequality (feminist action) and action that aims to protect women from violence (protective action). Three online studies were conducted. For each study, a U.S. community sample was recruited. In Study 1 (n=602), women reported greater intentions to engage in feminist action than men did. Men, however, were just as willing as women to participate in protective action. In Study 2 (n=726), we replicated these gender differences and found that protective action was positively predicted by benevolent sexism among men. In Study 3 (N=582), we investigated why women reported greater intentions to engage in feminist action compared to men. We found that women were more aware of gender inequality, which was associated with identification as a feminist, and through this, intentions to engage in feminist action. Awareness of gender inequality also predicted intentions to engage in protective action among women. Men, however, were less aware of gender inequality, which was associated with the belief that feminist action leads to women having more rights than men do and subsequently greater willingness to participate in protective action. Our results can assist social policymakers and activists to develop appropriate campaigns for gender equality if their goal is to challenge, rather than protect women from, the status quo.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-518
Number of pages14
JournalSex Roles
Volume79
Issue number9-10
Early online date6 Jan 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

Keywords

  • sexism
  • gender
  • feminism
  • collective action
  • feminist consciousness
  • zero-sum

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