Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Shannon K. McCoy

Second Committee Member

Shawn Ell

Third Committee Member

Thane Fremouw


Women who strongly endorse meritocracy may fare better in the face of impending sexism than women who do not. Women forewarned about the potential for a sexist evaluation of their work compensate by distancing themselves from feminine stereotypes (Kaiser & Miller, 2001). Because meritocracy is positively associated with perceived control over one's outcomes (McCoy, Cosley, & Major, 2010), we propose that the more women endorse meritocracy the more they will compensate for impending sexism. We examined compensation via linguistic analysis of women's speeches to a sexist or non sexist man. In language use, women are more likely to use more verbs thoughts and emotion words whereas men are more likely to use longer words, prepositions, and words that relate to impersonal topics (Newman, et al., 2008). The more women endorsed meritocracy the less they talked like a woman and the lower their MAP during a speech delivered to a man they believed held sexist attitudes. Further, the less women talked like a woman, the lower their MAP in the sexist condition. These relationships were not observed when the male evaluator did not hold sexist attitudes. Our data suggest that women high in meritocracy compensated for impending sexism by distancing themselves linguistically from women and consequently had lower MAP during the speech. These data provide further evidence that meritocracy may indeed be palliative for members of low status groups.