Women often face sexism and stereotypes about their academic ability, and this makes it important to examine the effects of confronting sexism in the college classroom. The current research consisted of 2 studies of how witnessing a confrontation of a sexist stereotype in the classroom affects female students’ perceptions of the confronters and self-reported sexism. The samples consisted of female students from a public college in the Northeastern U.S. who provided their perceptions of teachers described in vignettes as either confronting or not confronting a student’s stereotype of women as unskilled at math. In Study 1 (N = 48) perceptions of the teacher were more positive when confronting the stereotype, and students’ self-reported sexism was reduced when the teacher confronted rather than ignored the stereotype. Study 2 (N = 56) compared the effects of a teacher versus a student confrontation of the same stereotype. Participants perceived the teacher and student more positively when they confronted rather than ignored the stereotype. However, the source of the confrontation yielded no differences in sexism. These results suggest that students want their teachers to respond to bias in the classroom and that teachers should respond to sexist incidents in order to reduce the level of sexism among their students.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: May 1, 2013
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