The burden of benevolent sexism: how it contributes to the maintenance of gender inequalities



This study (N = 235) examines the responses of male and female participants to information about the alleged endorsement of either hostile or benevolent sexist beliefs by a sample of either men or women. We predicted that people endorsing benevolent sexist statements would be less likely to be perceived as sexist than those endorsing hostile sexist views, and examined the judgmental process through which people fail to recognize benevolent sexism as a form of prejudice. We argue that benevolent sexists do not match the mental prototype of sexist perpetrators, because they are seen as likeable. Our results confirm that because benevolent sexists are evaluated more positively than hostile sexists, they are less likely to be seen as sexists. This judgmental process occurs relatively independently of emotional responses to hostile vs. benevolent sexism. These results are discussed in terms of their relevance to the maintenance of gender inequalities. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.