Sex Roles, Vol. 51, Nos. 9/10, November 2004 (
Reinforcing the Glass Ceiling: The Consequences of
Hostile Sexism for Female Managerial Candidates
Barbara M. Masser
and Dominic Abrams
Previous research has established that benevolent sexism is related to the negative evalua-
tion of women who violate speciﬁc norms for behavior. Research has yet to document the
causal impact of hostile sexism on evaluations of individual targets. Correlational evidence
and ambivalent sexism theory led us to predict that hostile sexism would be associated with
negative evaluations of a female candidate for a masculine-typed occupational role. Partic-
ipants completed the ASI (P. Glick & S. T. Fiske, 1996) and evaluated a curriculum vitae
from either a male or female candidate. Higher hostile sexism was signiﬁcantly associated
with more negative evaluations of the female candidate and with lower recommendations
that she be employed as a manager. Conversely, higher hostile sexism was signiﬁcantly asso-
ciated with higher recommendations that a male candidate should be employed as a manager.
Benevolent sexism was unrelated to evaluations and recommendations in this context. The
ﬁndings support the hypothesis that hostile, but not benevolent, sexism results in negativity
toward individual women who pose a threat to men’s status in the workplace.
KEY WORDS: hostile sexism; glass ceiling; discrimination.
Sexism can take many forms (Glick & Fiske,
1996; Swim, Aikin, Hall, & Hunter, 1995; Tougas,
Brown, Beaton, & Joly, 1995), and it is important
to understand more about how sexist attitudes may
affect reactions to women in different social and or-
ganizational contexts. The aim of the current study
was to explore the role of two forms of sexism, hos-
tile and benevolent, in judgments and evaluations of
an individual female target who may be judged as
competitive or threatening to men. In line with Glick,
Diebold, Bailey-Werner, and Zhu (1997), we ex-
pected that hostile, but not benevolent, sexism would
be related to the negative evaluation of, and discrim-
The study reported in this paper was presented at the European
Association of Experimental Social Psychology, San Sebastian,
Spain, June 2002.
School of Psychology, University of Queensland, St. Lucia,
Department of Psychology, University of Kent, Canterbury,
Kent, United Kingdom.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at the School
of Psychology, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD 4072,
Australia; e-mail: B.Masser@psy.uq.edu.au.
ination against, an individual female candidate for a
Ambivalent Sexism and Evaluations
of (Sub)Types of Women
In contrast to the view of sexism as a unitary an-
tipathy or hostility toward women (e.g., Swim et al.,
1995), Glick and Fiske (1996) proposed that hostile
sexism (HS) may coexist with subjectively positive
but stereotypical attitudes toward women, that is,
benevolent sexism (BS). In order to assess this, Glick
and Fiske (1996) developed and validated a 22-item
Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (ASI), which is com-
prised of the HS and BS subscales. Preliminary and
subsequent work (e.g., Glick et al., 2000; Masser &
Abrams, 1999) have found the HS and BS subscales
of the ASI to be positively correlated, which suggests
the coexistence of these affectively opposed attitudes
toward women in some people.
Noting that the simultaneous holding of oppos-
ing attitudes toward women may be psychologically
2004 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.