Skip to main content

Please enter a keyword and click the arrow to search the site

Gender-based rejection sensitivity and academic self-silencing in women


Journal of Personality and Social Psychology


Organisational Behaviour

Authors / Editors

London B;Downey G;Romero-Canyas R;Rattan A;Tyson D


Publication Year



Building on prior work on rejection sensitivity, we propose a social-cognitive model of gender-based rejection sensitivity (Gender RS) to account for individual differences in how women perceive and cope with gender-based evaluative threats in competitive, historically male institutions. Study 1 develops a measure of Gender RS, defined as anxious expectations of gender-based rejection. Studies 2–5 support the central predictions of the model: Gender RS is associated with increased perceptions of gender-based threats and increased coping by self-silencing—responses that reinforce feelings of alienation and diminished motivation. Study 2 shows that Gender RS is distinct from overall sensitivity to rejection or perceiving the world through the lens of gender. Study 3 shows that Gender RS becomes activated specifically when gender-based rejection is a plausible explanation for negative outcomes. Study 4 provides experimental evidence that Gender RS predicts lower academic self-confidence, greater expectations of bias, and avoidance of opportunities for further help from a weakness-focused expert evaluator. Study 5 tests the Gender RS model in situ, using daily diaries to track women's experiences during the first weeks in a highly competitive law school. Implications for women's coping with the subtle nature of contemporary sexism are discussed as well as the importance of institution-level checks to prevent the costs of gender-based rejection. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Available on ECCH


Select up to 4 programmes to compare

Select one more to compare
subscribe_image_desktop 5949B9BFE33243D782D1C7A17E3345D0

Sign up to receive our latest news and business thinking direct to your inbox