Perceived Experiences With Sexism Among Adolescent Girls


  • The research was supported by grants to the first author from the University of California, Santa Cruz Academic Senate and Social Sciences Division; and by a grant to the second author from the University of California, Los Angeles Center for the Study of Women. Preliminary findings from this study were presented at the 2006 Gender Development Research Conference and the 2007 Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development. The authors are grateful to the girls in Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; and Santa Cruz, CA for their participation. Also, the authors thank Melanie Ayres, Carly Friedman, and the reviewers for their helpful suggestions, as well as Agnieszka Spatzier for data coordination, and Bren Michelle Chasse and Nicole Nunez for help with data entry.

concerning this article should be addressed to Campbell Leaper, Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, or Christia Spears Brown, Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, 215 Kastle Hall, Lexington, KY 40506. Electronic mail may be sent to or


This study investigated predictors of adolescent girls’ experiences with sexism and feminism. Girls (N = 600; M = 15.1 years, range = 12–18), of varied socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, completed surveys of personal experiences with sexual harassment, academic sexism (regarding science, math, and computer technology), and athletics. Most girls reported sexual harassment (90%), academic sexism (52%), and athletic sexism (76%) at least once, with likelihood increasing with age. Socialization influences and individual factors, however, influenced likelihood of all three forms of sexism. Specifically, learning about feminism and gender-conformity pressures were linked to higher perceptions of sexism. Furthermore, girls’ social gender identity (i.e., perceived gender typicality and gender-role contentedness) and gender-egalitarian attitudes were related to perceived sexism.