Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Jennifer K. Bosson, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Kristen Salomon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joseph Vandello, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Edelyn Verona, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Geoffrey Potts, Ph.D.


Coping, Gender Bias, Personality, Workplace Inequality


Women continue to face sexism in workplace contexts, especially those that are male dominated, such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Yet, women often fail to confront the sexism they experience, despite confrontation being an effective way to cope with and prevent future harassment (Fitzgerald et al., 1995; Magley, 2002). To date, no one has assessed the potential moderating role of personality differences related to approach motivation on women’s confrontation of sexism. In this study, women were exposed to either a hostilely sexist or benevolently sexist question during a mock job interview that was purportedly being conducted as part of a pilot for a STEM training program. Participants responded to both sexist and neutral questions, and their willingness to confront the sexism as well as their interview outcomes were assessed. I predicted that increased scores on a measure of behavioral activation (the Behavioral Activation Scale; Carver & White, 1994) would predict greater anger and confrontation in the HS condition and would predict better interview outcomes. I also exploratorily tested several other personality constructs that overlap with behavioral activation. Behavioral activation did not moderate anger, confrontation, or any of the interview outcomes; however, both hostile and benevolent sexism predicted greater confrontation than the control condition. Benevolent sexism also predicted better answers to the interview questions compared to the hostile condition, and exploratory analyses indicated that sensation seeking, appetitive motivation, functional impulsivity, and rebellious nonconformity may be fruitful avenues for future research on anger and confrontation in response to sexism.