Support for Women in Politics: the Role of Gender System Justification, Gender Inequality Perception and Sexism



Objective. Analysis of relationships between gender system justification, perceived gender inequality and ambivalent sexism in support for female candidates for the presidential post in Russia. Background. Human and gender development indices in Russia are considered to be very high in world rankings, however, promotion of women in politics and top management remains at a very low level, the Russian population is still prone to various biases towards women and their roles in society. Analysis of psychological mechanisms and factors restraining women’s empowerment is crucial to understand the lack of positive social change and barriers to quality attainment. Study design. The study examined relationships between gender system justifications, perceived gender inequality, hostile and benevolent sexism and respondents’ gender in support for female political candidates for presidency. Correlational online study using analysis of moderated mediation was conducted. Participants. Sample: N=1011 Russian respondents (48% male, 52% female) from 18 to 75 years old (M=35,1; SD=11,94). Measurements. Measures of system justification by J. Jost and A. Kay, Ambivalent sexism inventory by P. Glick and S. Fiske (both adapted to Russian by E. Agadullina), a question on perceived gender inequality in Russia («How would you evaluate gender inequality in Russia?») and a question about willingness to see a woman as a president of Russia («Would you like to see a woman as a president of Russia?»). Results. The direct association between gender system justification and support for a female politician was not found, however, indirect association through perceived gender inequality is significant: gender system justification leads to underestimation of inequality which in turn undermines willingness of the population to support female politicians. Ambivalent (benevolent and hostile) sexism hinders support for female politicians; benevolent (but not hostile) sexism contributes to underestimation of gender inequality in the society. Respondents’ gender does not moderate the studied relationships. Conclusions. Gender inequality perceived at low level as well as sexist attitudes are key factors restraining support for women in stereotypically unconventional fields (such as politics). Prevalence of sexist attitudes is one of the possible reasons why positive change is decelerated.

General Information

Keywords: gender system justification, gender inequality, sexism, female politicians

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The reported study was funded by Russian Science Foundation (RSF), project number 20-18-00142, at the NRU HSE.

Acknowledgements. Authors would like to thank Elena Agadullina for her contribution in the preparation of the article.

Received: 17.06.2022


For citation: Ananyeva O.A., Tatarenko M.K. Support for Women in Politics: the Role of Gender System Justification, Gender Inequality Perception and Sexism. Sotsial'naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2022. Vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 30–46. DOI: 10.17759/sps.2022130403. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Olga A. Ananyeva, Graduate Student, Research Intern, Laboratory for Psychology of Social Inequality, National Research University “Higher School of Economics” (NRU HSE), Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Maria K. Tatarenko, Research Intern, Laboratory for Psychology of Social Inequality, National Research University “Higher School of Economics” (NRU HSE), Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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