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Perceived centrality in social networks increases women’s expectations of confronting sexism


Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin


Organisational Behaviour

Authors / Editors

Rattan A;Brands R


Publication Year



This paper integrates the study of intergroup relations and social network cognition, predicting that women who occupy central (vs. peripheral) advice network positions are more likely to confront a coworker’s gender-biased comment. Study 1 offers correlational evidence of the predicted link between perceived advice network centrality and confronting among employed women, uniquely in advice (but not communication) networks. Study 2 replicates and investigates two possible mechanisms–perceptions of the situation as public and perceived risk of confronting. Study 3 rules out order effects and tests an additional mechanism (expectations of the network members). Study 4 is an experiment that shows people expect central (vs. peripheral) women to confront more, even when she is lower (vs. equal) power. Study 5 replicates the core hypothesis in retrospective accounts of women’s responses to real workplace gender bias. Study 6 compares multiple potential mechanisms to provide greater insight into why centrality reliably predicts confrontation.

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