Predictors of Change in Feminist Activism Through Women’s and Gender Studies
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Predictors of change in feminist activism were studied in a group of 519 women and 143 men enrolled in 48 women’s and gender studies (WGS) classes on six college campuses in a large Midwestern urban area. Over the semester-long classes, students increased their feminist activist behaviors and intention to engage in future activism. Although women had greater activist behaviors and intentions than men, increases were similar for women and men across time. African American and Euro American students increased to a similar extent and more so than Asian American students. Predictors of change included student initial gender attitudes, changes in attitudes over time, and feelings of empowerment gained from the class. Feelings of distress and anger were unrelated to activism. Both awareness of sexism and gender egalitarianism were predictive of changes in activist intentions, whereas only awareness of sexism predicted changes in activist behaviors. Empowerment mediated the relation between attitudes and activism. Pedagogical and methodological implications are discussed.
KeywordsWomen’s and gender studies Feminist activism Women’s empowerment
The authors are grateful to Sarah Hanly, Kevin Hoffman, Jenia Kincaid, Veronica Shead, Katie Mehner, Jennifer Seim, Estera Lucas, Debbie Royce, and Heather Eisele for their assistance in data collection and to the Women’s and Gender Studies teachers and students who participated in this study.
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