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.