Why Do Men and Women Challenge Gender Discrimination in the Workplace? The Role of Group Status and In-group Identification in Predicting Pathways to Collective Action


  • We thank Clara Kulich, Jamie Mason, and Mette Hersby for help with data collection and management. This research was jointly supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (RES 062 23 0135) and a RCUK Academic fellowship awarded to the second author.

*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Aarti Iyer, School of Psychology, University of Queensland, McElwain Building, St. Lucia QLD 4072, Australia [e-mail: a.iyer@uq.edu.au].


Group status and group identification were hypothesized to moderate the predictors of collective action to challenge gender discrimination against women. Higher identifiers were expected to respond to the inequality through the lens of their in-group's interests. Among highly identified women, collective action was predicted by appraisals of illegitimacy and feelings of anger, suggesting that they felt a sense of solidarity with the victims and experienced the justice violation as personally relevant. In contrast, higher identification with the high-status group should reflect more investment in the advantaged in-group, relative to the interests of the victimized out-group members. Thus, among highly identified men, collective action intentions were predicted by perceiving the inequality as pervasive (i.e., not limited to a few cases) and feelings of sympathy for victims. This suggests that highly identified men did not experience the inequality as self-relevant until they saw it as too widespread to be ignored. In contrast, men and women with lower gender group identification demonstrated more similar pathways to collective action, where sympathy was the main predictor. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.