Original Article

Sex Roles

, Volume 62, Issue 7, pp 481-493

First online:

When Female Applicants Meet Sexist Interviewers: The Costs of Being a Target of Benevolent Sexism

  • Jessica J. GoodAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Rutgers University Email author 
  • , Laurie A. RudmanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Rutgers University

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American undergraduate participants (N = 205) read an interview transcript and then evaluated male interviewers and a female job applicant to investigate perceptions of women who receive benevolent or hostile sexism (relative to non-sexist controls). As predicted, positive evaluations of the male interviewer in the benevolent and hostile sexist conditions negatively predicted participants’ hiring decisions—an effect that was fully mediated by low ratings of applicant competence. In accord with ambivalent sexism theory’s claim that women who challenge male dominance are not eligible for protective paternalism, participants’ hostile sexism scores predicted lower ratings of applicant competence and hireability, but only when the interviewer was a benevolent sexist. Implications for workplace discrimination are discussed.


Ambivalent sexism Gender attitudes Sex discrimination Employment discrimination