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Faculty Sponsor

Debi Brannan; Joel Alexander

Abstract

The current study explored perceptions of feminists by comparing them to perceptions of non-feminist women using both a fictitious target woman and a measure of traditionally feminine and masculine traits. 40 undergraduate students (mean age of 23, S.D. = 7.18) were presented with one photograph of a young woman (dressed-up, or dressed down) and one paragraph (describing her as, among other things, a feminist or not) and then completed a measure of traditionally feminist traits. It was found that scores on this questionnaire were significantly different based on self-labeling, such that participants who were told the woman in the photograph self-labeled as a feminist perceived her to be more adhering to traditional feminist stereotypes. Participants also completed the Bem Sex Role Inventory (Bem, 1981) as they believed a “Typical Feminist” or a “Typical Woman” would. A “Typical Woman” was perceived to be fairly androgynous, while a “Typical Feminist” had more extreme masculine and feminine scores. Overall, the findings of this study indicate that the feminist stereotype may be changing and that “typical women” can also be perceived to possess traits in accordance with the feminist stereotype.

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