Gender and the Perception of Diversity and Intimidation Among University Students1

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Abstract

This study investigated gender differences in the perceptions of university students about admissions and curriculum policies around diversity, and the experience of intimidation. A random sample of 340 students were interviewed by telephone. The participants were 54% male, 46% female; and 18% African American, 5% Hispanic, 19% Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 58% Caucasian. The analysis found that more women than men experienced intimidation based on gender, religion, and academic ability, and that much of the intimidation is attributed to other students. Women were more supportive than men of admissions policies that have social goals. Two sociodemographic characteristics (African American, female) were associated with support for courses that emphasize cultural diversity among undergraduates. Sexist messages from the broader society communicated by students and others in the academic environment and internalized bywomen—as well as the diffusion effect across the domains of gender, academic ability, and religion—explain the results.

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