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Abstract

Three studies examined how a woman's reaction to a man's benevolently sexist offer of help affected observers' perceptions. Results suggest a dilemma for women: A woman who accepted benevolently sexist help was perceived as warm but incompetent and less suited for a competence-related job (management consultant), whereas a woman who declined help and asserted her independence as a woman was perceived as competent but cold and less suited for a warmth-related job (day care worker). By contrast, observers viewed the male help-offerer especially favorably (warmer, more competent, and more qualified as a management consultant) when the female target accepted (versus confronted) his patronizing offer. But only perceivers who endorsed benevolent sexism showed these effects. Implications for challenging benevolent sexism are discussed. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.