Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Social interaction is the driving force of human society and extends far beyond one-on-one conversations – it is how we learn about the behavioral expectations, beliefs and symbols of our culture. Sometimes these beliefs and expectations are related to celebrations and events that bring cultures together. Through interaction we learn that we are expected to bring a gift to a birthday party and why we even choose to celebrate birthdays at all. Yet that same framework – which is tied to the way humans categorize each other to make interaction easier – also allows cultures to share biases about different social groups that may lead to discrimination. Ridgeway (2009, 2011) argues that the fundamental processes of interaction are one of the structural elements that have kept women from achieving parity with men in society, both in terms of wages and in terms of cultural perception. In her argument, Ridgeway claims that the social norms surrounding gender have not evolved to reflect women’s modern role in social life. Ridgeway and other social psychologists consider gender a major element of social structure that is relevant in every social interaction, making gender one of the major classifications used to frame interaction. That gender frame is used in every social interaction and, as such, lags behind because old norms are reinforced in every interaction. So, while women have greatly increased their human capital outcomes, their place in society is still lower than men’s because it is based in gender norms that were introduced in earlier times and kept in place through interaction. In this dissertation, I begin with Ridgeway’s work on the gender frame and expand it to examine how the online presentation of sexist information may influence people’s gender beliefs. I test this theory with a social psychological experiment that exposes participants to sexist message board conversations and opinion columns and compares their scores on a measure of ambivalent sexism with participants exposed to non-sexist articles and message board conversations. Results show that the media format does have some influence on perception, but the medium’s legitimacy and the sex and race of the participant also influenced their gender attitudes.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Blanchard, Troy



Included in

Sociology Commons