From crude jokes to diminutive terms: Exploring experiences of hostile and benevolent sexism during job search

Nitya Chawla, Allison S. Gabriel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Despite the growing attention devoted to women's experiences of sexism within organizational contexts, there is comparatively less work elucidating the affective and behavioral self-regulatory processes that unfold following sexist incidents that happen before organizational entry—that is, during the job search process. In this study, we integrate ambivalent sexism theory with self-regulation theory to explore the differential impact of experiences of hostile (i.e., overt, derogatory, expressions of female inferiority) and benevolent sexism (i.e., subtle, seemingly positive, expressions of female incompetence) during the job search. Further, drawing from research on discrimination, we also consider whether reactions to sexism are shaped by the extent to which women identify with their gender. We tested our conceptual model through a weekly study of 103 female new labor market entrants. Findings indicated that while weekly experiences of hostile sexism related to heightened anger, experiences of benevolent sexism elicited anxiety; these effects were exacerbated for highly gender-identified female job seekers. Anxiety—but not anger—prompted next-week job search effort and intensity, which yielded distinct effects on search success and well-being. Notably, exploratory analyses demonstrated that these affective responses to weekly experiences of hostile and benevolent sexism did not emerge for male job seekers, suggesting that such experiences of sexism can be more impactful for women on the job market. Thus, our work highlights the critical self-regulatory processes that unfold weekly following female job seekers’ exposure to sexism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPersonnel Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Note. This paper is based on Nitya Chawla's doctoral dissertation supervised by Allison S. Gabriel, which received the 2021 Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) S. Rains Wallace Dissertation Award. We thank members of Nitya Chawla's dissertation committee—Aleksander P. J. Ellis, Jerel E. Slaughter, and Marcus M. Butts—for their feedback on earlier versions of this paper. Additional feedback was graciously provided by the faculty at the Department of Management and Organizations at the University of Arizona, the Management and IO Psychology Departments at Texas A&M University, the Department of Management at the University of Arkansas, the Department of Management at the University of Georgia, the Organizational Behavior unit at Georgia Institute of Technology, the Department of Management at the University of Oregon, the Department of Management at University of Washington, and the Work & Organizations Group at University of Minnesota. A previous version of this manuscript was presented as part of the 2020 Academy of Management (AOM) Virtual Conference. This work also greatly benefited from the 2019 AOM Human Resources Division/SHRM Foundation Dissertation Grant Award and the 2020 SIOP Hebl Grant for Reducing Gender Inequities in the Workplace Award. At the end of the 2022‐2023 academic year, Nitya Chawla will be a faculty member of the Work and Organizations group at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, and Allison S. Gabriel will be a faculty member of the Organizational Behavior and Human Resources area at Purdue University's Krannert School of Management.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • ambivalent sexism
  • gender
  • job search
  • self-regulation
  • weekly study


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