Attitudes to Sexism and Gender Equity at a Danish University


  • Lea Skewes
  • Joshua C. Skewes
  • Michelle K. Ryan



Explicit attitudes, sexist attitudes, gender discrimination, modern sexism, support for discriminatory practices, gender equity, gender equality, discrimination, modern sexism scale


We designed this study to measure the degree of backlash a specific Danish university would encounter in response to gender equity interventions. To capture this resistance we used two standardized questionnaires: the Modern Sexism Scale, which measures explicit denial of gender discrimination and resentment towards gender equity demands (such as gender interventions) and
the Support for Discriminatory Practices which measures peoples explicit preferences for hiring men over women. We also asked an open question about attitudes towards the university’s current gender policies. The questionnaire was sent to 15,493 employees. With one prompt 1,805 completed the entire questionnaire. We found that university employees scored above the midpoint on modern sexism, indicating that, on average, they held sexist attitudes. We further showed that modern sexism scores varied depending on beliefs about what was being done for
gender equity in the organization, such that those who thought that enough or too much was being done had significantly higher sexism scores than those who thought that not enough was
being done. Over all, our findings document explicit sexist attitudes within the target university and suggest that gender equity interventions are therefore likely to be met by great resistance
from some.





Skewes, L., Skewes, J. C., & Ryan, M. K. (2019). Attitudes to Sexism and Gender Equity at a Danish University. Kvinder, Køn & Forskning, 28(1-2), 71–85.