Effect of Exposure to Images on Women’s Interest in Leadership Positions
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Though women make up 50% of the United States population, they hold very few of the top leadership positions in the world. Media images portraying women in submissive in subservient roles may reduce women’s interest in pursuing leadership positions perceived as dominant. In order to investigate this claim, women’s desire to pursue leadership positions was evaluated after exposure to dominant or submissive images of women. Female undergraduates (N = 53) viewed media images portraying women in submissive or dominant poses. They then imagined themselves in several leadership positions, described their roles, and rated their desire to pursue those leadership positions. Participants’ self-esteem and levels of communion and agency were also measured. It was predicted that those viewing the dominant poses would report higher levels of desire to pursue leadership positions than those who viewed the submissive poses. The results revealed that women with lower self-esteem perceived more self-threats in a leadership role when exposed to the dominant images, and this pattern was reversed for women with higher self-esteem. Women with lower agency perceived a leadership role to have greater positivity when exposed to dominant images, and this pattern was reversed for women with higher agency. Future research must be conducted to gain a greater understanding of how individual differences moderate the relationship between media images and desire to pursue leadership positions.
Dick, Amanda Cartwright (2015). Effect of Exposure to Images on Women’s Interest in Leadership Positions. Honors and Undergraduate Research. Available electronically from