Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Joelle C. Ruthig


For women, sexism is an unavoidable experience and perceiving one’s self as a victim of sexism can have detrimental effects on psychological well-being. However, situational factors, such as level of sexism, and individual differences in gender-related beliefs can influence whether women attribute negative experiences and outcomes to sexism and the degree to which they are impacted by sexism. The current two-part study examined how women responded to sexist feedback depending on the level and target of sexism, as well as individual differences in gender identity and endorsement of sexism. The impact of sexist feedback on women’s psychological well-being was also examined. Study objectives were addressed using a 3 Sexism Level (blatant, subtle, no sexism) X 2 Target (personal, women in general) experimental design. Initially, 429 women completed online measures of gender identity salience, gender identity content, endorsement of sexism, and casual attributions to sexism in general. Approximately two weeks later, 304 of the same women completed an online aptitude test and then received negative performance feedback for their own or other women’s performance that was blatantly, subtly, or not sexist. Then, participants completed attribution and state psychological well-being measures. In general, the current results show that women made stronger attributions to sexism when the performance feedback was blatantly sexist and when women in general were the target of that feedback. The current findings also showed that gender identity salience and content had little impact on attributions for the performance feedback or on women’s psychological well-being.