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Concept: Feminism


Gender inequality and sexist behaviour is prevalent in almost all workplaces and rampant in online environments. Although there is much research dedicated to understanding sexist behaviour, we have almost no insight into what triggers this behaviour and the individuals that initiate it. Although social constructionist theory argues that sexism is a response towards women entering a male dominated arena, this perspective doesn’t explain why only a subset of males behave in this way. We argue that a clearer understanding of sexist behaviour can be gained through an evolutionary perspective that considers evolved differences in intra-sexual competition. We hypothesised that female-initiated disruption of a male hierarchy incites hostile behaviour from poor performing males who stand to lose the most status. To test this hypothesis, we used an online first-person shooter video game that removes signals of dominance but provides information on gender, individual performance, and skill. We show that lower-skilled players were more hostile towards a female-voiced teammate, especially when performing poorly. In contrast, lower-skilled players behaved submissively towards a male-voiced player in the identical scenario. This difference in gender-directed behaviour became more extreme with poorer focal-player performance. We suggest that low-status males increase female-directed hostility to minimize the loss of status as a consequence of hierarchical reconfiguration resulting from the entrance of a woman into the competitive arena. Higher-skilled players, in contrast, were more positive towards a female relative to a male teammate. As higher-skilled players have less to fear from hierarchical reorganization, we argue that these males behave more positively in an attempt to support and garner a female player’s attention. Our results provide the clearest picture of inter-sexual competition to date, highlighting the importance of considering an evolutionary perspective when exploring the factors that affect male hostility towards women.

Concepts: Human, Male, Female, Gender, Sex, Woman, First-person shooter, Feminism


The aim of this research was to examine conditions that modify feminists' support for women as targets of gender discrimination. In an experimental study we tested a hypothesis that threatened feminist identity will lead to greater differentiation between feminists and conservative women as victims of discrimination and, in turn, a decrease in support for non-feminist victims. The study was conducted among 96 young Polish female professionals and graduate students from Gender Studies programs in Warsaw who self-identified as feminists (M age  = 22.23). Participants were presented with a case of workplace gender discrimination. Threat to feminist identity and worldview of the discrimination victim (feminist vs. conservative) were varied between research conditions. Results indicate that identity threat caused feminists to show conditional reactions to discrimination. Under identity threat, feminists perceived the situation as less discriminatory when the target held conservative views on gender relations than when the target was presented as feminist. This effect was not observed under conditions of no threat. Moreover, feminists showed an increase in compassion for the victim when she was portrayed as a feminist compared to when she was portrayed as conservative. Implications for the feminist movement are discussed.

Concepts: Gender, Discrimination, Victim, Sexism, Femininity, Feminism, Women's rights, Feminist theory


Peer review is the cornerstone of scholarly publishing and it is essential that peer reviewers are appointed on the basis of their expertise alone. However, it is difficult to check for any bias in the peer-review process because the identity of peer reviewers generally remains confidential. Here, using public information about the identities of 9000 editors and 43000 reviewers from the Frontiers series of journals, we show that women are underrepresented in the peer-review process, that editors of both genders operate with substantial same-gender preference (homophily), and that the mechanisms of this homophily are gender-dependent. We also show that homophily will persist even if numerical parity between genders is reached, highlighting the need for increased efforts to combat subtler forms of gender bias in scholarly publishing.

Concepts: Scientific method, Gender, Academic publishing, Academia, Peer review, Review, Sexism, Feminism


According to radical feminist theory, pornography serves to further the subordination of women by training its users, males and females alike, to view women as little more than sex objects over whom men should have complete control. Composite variables from the General Social Survey were used to test the hypothesis that pornography users would hold attitudes that were more supportive of gender nonegalitarianism than nonusers of pornography. Results did not support hypotheses derived from radical feminist theory. Pornography users held more egalitarian attitudes-toward women in positions of power, toward women working outside the home, and toward abortion-than nonusers of pornography. Further, pornography users and pornography nonusers did not differ significantly in their attitudes toward the traditional family and in their self-identification as feminist. The results of this study suggest that pornography use may not be associated with gender nonegalitarian attitudes in a manner that is consistent with radical feminist theory.

Concepts: Scientific method, Female, Gender, Sociology, Sex, Feminism, Feminist theory, Radical feminism


Previous studies of men’s breast size preferences have yielded equivocal findings, with studies variously indicating a preference for small, medium, or large breasts. Here, we examined the impact of men’s oppressive beliefs in shaping their female breast size ideals. British White men from the community in London, England (N = 361) viewed figures of women that rotated in 360° and varied in breast size along five levels. They then rated the figure that they found most physically attractive and also completed measures assessing their sexist attitudes and tendency to objectify women. Results showed that medium breasts were rated most frequent as attractive (32.7 %), followed by large (24.4 %) and very large (19.1 %) breasts. Further analyses showed that men’s preferences for larger female breasts were significantly associated with a greater tendency to be benevolently sexist, to objectify women, and to be hostile towards women. These results were discussed in relation to feminist theories, which postulate that beauty ideals and practices in contemporary societies serve to maintain the domination of one sex over the other.

Concepts: Estrogen, Gender, Sociology, Breast, Sexism, Feminism, Intersectionality, Feminist theory


In the present work, we examined associations between oppressive, sexist beliefs and consideration of cosmetic surgery for oneself and also endorsement of cosmetic surgery for one’s romantic partner. A total of 554 German-speaking volunteers from the community, mainly in Austria, completed measures of consideration of cosmetic surgery and three measures of sexist attitudes, while a subset of participants in romantic relationships completed a measure of endorsement of cosmetic surgery for their partners along with the measures of sexism. Preliminary analyses showed that women and single respondents were more likely to consider having cosmetic surgery than men and committed respondents, respectively. Further analyses showed that consideration of cosmetic surgery for oneself was significantly associated with sexist attitudes, particularly hostile attitudes to women. In addition, among participants in a relationship, sexist attitudes were associated with endorsement of cosmetic surgery for one’s partner. These results indicate that attitudes to cosmetic surgery for oneself and one’s partner are shaped by gender-ideological belief systems in patriarchal societies. Possible implications for understanding the motivations for having cosmetic surgery, among both single respondents and couples, are discussed.

Concepts: Belief, Gender, Sociology, Sexism, Feminism, Misogyny, Patriarchy, Intersectionality


In the same way that many aspects of gender cannot be understood aside from their relationship to race, class, culture, nationality and/or sexuality, the interactions between gender and aging constitute an interesting field for academic research, without which we cannot gain full insight into the complex and multi-faceted nature of gender studies. Although the American writer and Columbia professor Carolyn Gold Heilbrun (1926-2003) is more widely known for her best-selling mystery novels, published under the pseudonym of Amanda Cross, she also authored remarkable pieces of non-fiction in which she asserted her long-standing commitment to feminism, while she also challenged established notions on women and aging and advocated for a reassessment of those negative views. To my mind, the Kate Fansler novels became an instrument to reach a massive audience of female readers who might not have read her non-fiction, but who were perhaps finding it difficult to reach fulfillment as women under patriarchy, especially upon reaching middle age. Taking her essays in feminism and literary criticism as a basis and her later fiction as substantiation to my argument, this paper will try to reveal the ways in which Heilbrun’s seemingly more superficial and much more commercial mystery novels as Amanda Cross were used a catalyst that informed her feminist principles while vindicating the need to rethink about issues concerning literary representations of mature women and cultural stereotypes about motherhood.

Concepts: Gender, Gender role, Literature, Feminism, Carolyn Gold Heilbrun, Feminist theory, Kate Fansler, Detective fiction


The issue of gender equality in employment has given rise to numerous policies in advanced industrial countries, all aimed at tackling gender discrimination regarding recruitment, salary and promotion. Yet gender inequalities in the workplace persist. The purpose of this research is to document the psychosocial process involved in the persistence of gender discrimination against working women. Drawing on the literature on the justification of discrimination, we hypothesized that the myths according to which women’s work threatens children and family life mediates the relationship between sexism and opposition to a mother’s career. We tested this hypothesis using the Family and Changing Gender Roles module of the International Social Survey Programme. The dataset contained data collected in 1994 and 2012 from 51632 respondents from 18 countries. Structural equation modellings confirmed the hypothesised mediation. Overall, the findings shed light on how motherhood myths justify the gender structure in countries promoting gender equality.

Concepts: Gender, Gender role, Hypothesis, Discrimination, Role, Mediation, Sexism, Feminism


Long workhours erode health, which the setting of maximum weekly hours aims to avert. This 48-h limit, and the evidence base to support it, has evolved from a workforce that was largely male, whose time in the labour force was enabled by women’s domestic work and care giving. The gender composition of the workforce has now changed, and many women (as well as some men) combine care-giving with paid work, a change viewed as fundamental for gender equality. However, it raises questions on the suitability of the work time limit and the extent it is protective of health. We estimate workhour-mental health thresholds, testing if they vary for men and women due to gendered workloads and constraints on and off the job. Using six waves of data from a nationally representative sample of Australian adults (24-65 years), surveyed in the Household Income Labour Dynamics of Australia Survey (N = 3828 men; 4062 women), our study uses a longitudinal, simultaneous equation approach to address endogeneity. Averaging over the sample, we find an overall threshold of 39 h per week beyond which mental health declines. Separate curves then estimate thresholds for men and women, by high or low care and domestic time constraints, using stratified and pooled samples. We find gendered workhour-health limits (43.5 for men, 38 for women) which widen further once differences in resources on and off the job are considered. Only when time is ‘unencumbered’ and similar time constraints and contexts are assumed, do gender gaps narrow and thresholds approximate the 48-h limit. Our study reveals limits to contemporary workhour regulation which may be systematically disadvantaging women’s health.

Concepts: Male, Female, Gender, Gender role, Woman, Transgender, Man, Feminism


Heterosexism and patriarchy collude to create an expectation of pregnancy for all women. In addition, the bodily production of pregnancy has been socially gendered as feminine because of its association with female-bodied people. These two ideological codes-that all women should become mothers through pregnancy and that pregnancy is a femininely gendered endeavor-suggest conundrums for masculine lesbians. This study relies on interview data with 14 childfree masculine-identified lesbians about the ways in which they are able (or unable) to imagine themselves as pregnant people in their future lives. Participants' navigation of the concept of pregnancy reveal the complexity of gendered bodies and gender practice.

Concepts: Male, Gender, Sociology, Gender role, Gender studies, Femininity, Feminism, Grammatical gender