Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Research by Rudman and colleagues (2012) has detailed how people who defy social stereotypes (called vanguards) experience discriminatory backlash for acting counter-stereotypically. In the present research, I took Rudman's Backlash and Stereotype Maintenance Model (BSMM) and applied it to working women and working mothers. Due to the different content of the stereotypes of working women versus working mothers, I predicted that the process through which perceivers engage in backlash against the two groups is different. I used the theory of Ambivalent Sexism to shape my predictions for how working mothers are vulnerable to different forms of backlash than working women without children. Specifically, I proposed that working women are likely vulnerable to hostile sexist backlash such as hiring discrimination and resentment, whereas stereotypes of working mothers suggest that they may be more likely to experience benevolent sexist backlash such as patronizing help and unintended ostracism. Ultimately, I only found partial support for my predictions. When discrimination emerged, it was most likely targeted towards working mothers. Additionally, I found evidence that justifications such as perceived work ethic, family obligations, and inappropriateness of the action may be better predictors of backlash behavior than explicit hostile and benevolent sexism.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.