The Relationship Between Women’s Feminist Identities and Perceptions of Competence and Warmth

by Julia LaCap, Jillian Puvogel and Emma Schwartz

Our research was based on Backlash Theory posited by Rudman, et al., 2012.  Backlash Theory is the model in which a perceiver can inflict social and economic penalties on someone they believe is violating the status quo.  In our research, we define someone who violates the status quo as a feminist, with varying levels of the degree to which a feminist violates the status quo.  We wished to learn whether varying levels of feminism and competence affects how perceivers rate a feminist’s competence at her job, and warmth.  Overall, there were significant main effects of competence on perceptions on warmth (F (2, 228) = 35.38, p<.001), feminist beliefs on warmth (F (2, 228) = 4.38, p = .005), competence level on perceptions of competence (F (2, 228) = 60.182, p<.001), and competence on perceptions of womanhood, F (2, 228) = 15.306, p<.001.  Conclusively, how someone was described as being competent and as a feminist affected how she was perceived as warm.  Additionally, higher levels of competence was not met with backlash, suggesting the demand on women to be better at their jobs.  Future research should expand on how different perspectives of feminism are perceived.

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