Sex Roles

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 265-277

First online:

New wave or second stage? Attitudes of college women toward feminism

  • Claire M. RenzettiAffiliated withSt. Joseph's University

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The attitudes of female subjects toward gender roles, gender inequality, and the women's movement were measured using a 24-item attitudinal inventory. Subjects tended to hold nontraditional but only moderately feminist attitudes toward gender roles. They were, however, highly aware of gender inequality and supportive of the women's movement, although they were also reluctant to identify themselves as feminists. T tests revealed that subjects most supportive of feminism were advanced students (juniors and seniors) and students who had personally experienced discrimination. But when personal experience of sex discrimination was controlled for, the strength of the relationships between class level and gender role attitudes, and between class level and support for the women's movement, diminished. Students who had personally experienced sex discrimination are less traditional and more feminist in their gender role attitudes, and show stronger support for the women's movement, regardless of their class level, than students who have not had such experiences. These findings are interpreted and their implications for the future of the women's movement are discussed.