Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Lisa Steelman

Second Advisor

Rachael Tilka

Third Advisor

Katrina Merlini


This study was conducted to examine levels of internal and external self-confidence in women leaders. Specifically, the purpose of this study was to explore the antecedents of self-confidence levels in women leaders, predicting that benevolent sexism would lower self-confidence through stereotype threat. 150 female leaders filled out an online survey. The results did not provide support for six out of the seven proposed hypotheses. The results found that benevolent sexism was negatively related to external self-confidence, but overall did not impact self-confidence. An exploratory analysis was conducted to further examine potential mediators and moderators in the relationship between hostile and benevolent sexism and internal and external self-confidence. Results of the exploratory analysis found stereotype threat and sensitivity to sexism as mediators and moderators in different relationships than hypothesized. Specifically, hostile sexism is related to lower levels of external self-confidence in women leaders. This has major implications for career growth and emotional strain on women leaders. Theoretical implications, practical implications, and limitations are then discussed.


Copyright held by author