“We want you in the Workplace, but only in a Skirt!” Social Dominance Orientation, Gender-Based Affirmative Action and the Moderating Role of Benevolent Sexism
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Although affirmative action based on race and/or ethnicity is a widely debated political issue within the public sphere, relatively few studies have examined the correlates of people’s attitudes towards gender-based affirmative action. The few studies that have assessed this topic suggest that both Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) and sexism are independently associated with people’s opposition to affirmative action for women. The current study expands upon this literature by investigating the moderating effect of Benevolent Sexism (BS)—a dimension of sexism that sees women as weak and in need of protection—on the relationship between SDO and support for gender-based affirmative action within a nationally representative sample of New Zealand adults (N = 5697). Specifically, we argue that protective aspects of BS will weaken the previously-identified positive relationship between SDO and opposition to affirmative action for women. As expected, our results showed that SDO was positively, whereas BS was negatively, associated with opposition to gender-based affirmative action. Also as predicted, BS attenuated the relationship between SDO and opposition to affirmative action for women. These results replicate and extend past research by demonstrating that SDO is an ideology that works to maintain existing unequal structures. We also show that part of the insidious nature of BS is that it offers women ostensible short-term benefits.
KeywordsBenevolent sexism Social dominance theory Social policy Affirmative action
This research was supported by a Templeton World Charity Foundation Grant (ID: 0077).
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