If Stigmatized, Self-Esteem Is not Enough: Effects of Sexism, Self-Esteem and Social Identity on Leadership Aspiration

Angela Fedi, Chiara Rollero


Ambivalent sexism has many pernicious consequences. Since gender stereotypes also affect leadership roles, the present research investigated the effects of ambivalent sexism on envisioning oneself as a leader. Our studies tested the influence of sexist attitudes (toward women – Study 1 – and men – Study 2) on leadership aspiration, taking into account the interaction among ambivalent attitudes, personal characteristics (e.g. self-esteem), and group processes (e.g. level of identification with gender). Specifically, the current study used a 3 (sexism: hostile, benevolent, control) x 2 (social identification: high, low) x 2 (self-esteem: high, low) factorial design. 178 women participated in Study 1. Results showed that, although sexism was not recognised as a form of prejudice and did not trigger negative emotions, in sexist conditions high-identified women increase their leadership aspiration. In Study 2 men (N = 184) showed to recognise hostility as a form of prejudice, to experience more negative emotions, but to be not influenced in leadership aspiration. For both men and women self-esteem had a significant main effect on leadership aspiration.


ambivalent attitudes; leadership aspirations; self-esteem; social identification

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