How Women React When Other Women Are Mistreated

Researchers at Texas A&M University conducted a study of the reactions of college-age men and women when confronted with behavior that is demeaning to women.

In one experiment, participants were given a reading assignment in which a woman was subjected to disparaging remarks. In a second experiment, participants actually observed the inappropriate behavior.

In both cases, men had very little reaction and tended to not believe they should react to the behavior. The results showed that women who read about an encounter were upset about the behavior and stated that they would object to the disparaging remarks. But when women were actually confronted with the behavior, their reactions were similar to those of men. The women tended to ignore the bad behavior or did nothing to object to it.

Among the authors of the study, published in the journal Sex Roles, are Kathi Miner, an assistant professor of psychology with a joint appointment in the women’s and gender studies program at Texas A&M and Claudia Benavides-Espinoza, assistant professor of sports management at Arkansas State University, who did her graduate work at Texas A&M.

Dr. Miner is a graduate of the University of California at Irvine. She holds a master’s degree from Southern Methodist University and a Ph.D. in psychology and women’s studies from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Benavides-Espinoza is a graduate of the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon in Mexico. She holds master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Texas A&M University.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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  1. marie nadine pierre says:


    I am so not surprised by the findings of this research. And you know what, it should have presented the details of the findings. For instance, in my experience, white women and other non~black women and upper and middle class women are most prone to this kind of hypocritical behavior. In fact, while they are likely to pay lip service to feminism and a supposed solidarity between women they will not display that fortitude when it is needed. In my view, the misguided behavior is a self promotion mechanism which is self defeating because building solidarity in the classroom or wherever is crucial to success in the so-called real world. Thanks for publishing this.

  2. Caroline Turner says:

    If generalizing is permitted, the average women has a harder time speaking up on anything than the average man. In this kind of situation, women may hesitate to appear to be aligning with the gender that has less power in the workplace–or to have a personal stake in the issue. I have analyzed several reasons women often don’t support each other at work. My purpose is to make women aware of how we undermine or fail to support women so we’ll become part of the solution–part of achieving gender diversity all the way up the corporate ladder.

    • marie nadine pierre says:

      Hi Caroline.

      I appreciate your comment and\or observation. I completely agree. I believe that females {girls and women} are often intimidated and won’t speak up in support of others of the same gender in abusive situations. However, in my experience many of these same women are likely to become abusive towards the victim. I will dare to argue that only a very small minority are fearful of negative repercussions as per why they don’t speak up and against abuse of others.
      I have been in countless situations in academia and in workplaces and other places where I experienced this first hand. I am a Nyabinghi Rasta woman and I am also a 2nd generation transnational Haitian American and I’m petite so I have been there.
      I also wanted to point out some prominent women like Hillary Clinton and Schwartznegger’s ex~wife, Maria Kennedy who live with men who abused women in the open. And both of these women denied the allegations of their husbands’ victims. Those situations reminded me of the condition of Blacks during slavery.
      We have a long way to go. This study can ignite the spark.

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