What is Feminism? College Students’ Definitions and Correlates

  • Shirley Matile Ogletree
  • Paulette Diaz
  • Vincent Padilla


Feminism may have different meanings to different people. Three Texas college student samples (N = 272, N = 156, N = 404) were surveyed and provided information about their definitions of feminism as well as their gender role and sexist attitudes. Based on gender comparison MANOVAs, women agreed more with defining feminism from a liberal feminist perspective that focused on male/female similarities and equal rights. Men, however, were more likely to define feminism from a man-hating perspective (Studies 1 and 3). Defining feminism from a liberal feminist perspective was correlated with a womanist, more inclusive, perspective, but defining feminism from a man-hating perspective was related to cultural feminist perspectives that identified differing male/female characteristics/values (Studies 2 and 3). Across all three studies defining feminism from a liberal feminist perspective was associated with nontraditional gender role attitudes and less sexism. However, perceiving feminists as man-haters was related to more traditional values and more sexist attitudes. In each of the three studies, fewer than half of the participants indicated that they were feminists. Although many college students define feminism from a liberal feminism perspective associated with less traditional gendered values, others may be more likely to think of feminists with more negative connotations.


Feminism Gender roles Sex roles Sexism 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The three studies reported here were approved by the Institutional Review Board at our university; all procedures were in accordance with ethical standards.

Informed Consent

All participants gave informed consent for participating in this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shirley Matile Ogletree
    • 1
  • Paulette Diaz
    • 1
  • Vincent Padilla
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA

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