Sexism legitimizes gender inequality and makes it worse

Sexism and gender inequality across 57 societies

From Psychological Science

The purpose of this study was to directly test the hypothesis that sexism is a hierarchy-enhancing ideology by examining the contribution of sexist ideologies to increases in gender inequality across 57 societies. This study is the most expansive study of sexism conducted to date and is the first study to demonstrate the temporal precedence of sexism in enhancing gender inequality. By taking advantage of both individual and societal-level data, it was possible to examine the association between ideological beliefs and systemic outcomes. Higher levels of societal health, wealth, and education have been related to lower levels of support for sexist gender ideologies The results presented suggest that sexism not only legitimizes gender inequality, but actively makes it worse.


Theory predicts that individuals’ sexism serves to exacerbate inequality in their society’s gender hierarchy. Past research, however, has provided only correlational evidence to support this hypothesis. In this study, I analyzed a large longitudinal data set that included representative data from 57 societies. Multilevel modeling showed that sexism directly predicted increases in gender inequality., and this finding suggests that sexism not only legitimizes the societal status quo, but also actively enhances the severity of the gender hierarchy. Three potential mechanisms for this effect are discussed briefly.

Read this research for free

Article details
Brandt, M. (2011). Sexism and Gender Inequality Across 57 Societies Psychological Science, 22 (11), 1413-1418 DOI: 10.1177/0956797611420445

This entry was posted in Psychology, SAGE Insight and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.