Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Political Science

First Advisor

Robert Brown

Second Advisor

John Bruce

Third Advisor

Kirsten Dellinger

Relational Format



This thesis examines whether alternative conceptualizations of sexism impact attitudes towards women in professional sports. Specifically, this thesis focuses on the United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT), who sued their governing body in 2018 on the bases of unequal treatment and pay. The choice to focus on this particular team is because these women generate more revenue and outperform the United States Men’s National Soccer Team; two factors that are normally used to justify why female athletes should not be paid equally. To measure sexist attitudes, a survey of 74 questions was administered through Lucid and served as the primary data source for this thesis. 808 respondents ages 18 and up answered questions about their demographics, partisanship, and political participation to gather background information and classify the responses by these factors. Additionally, questions to measure respondents’ attitudes among four sexism scales (hostile, benevolent, external and internal motivation to respond), as well as several questions related to gender equality, athletes making political statements, and the possibility of a White House boycott by the United States Women’s National Soccer Team were included. The results of this survey found that hostile sexism is the most consistent in terms of influencing attitudes about the USWNT. Benevolent sexism attitudes are important, yet display a different pattern than hostile sexism attitudes. External motivation to respond without sexism attitudes were generally not significant in the analysis, and internal motivation to respond without sexism attitudes were positive towards the USWNT. Ultimately, this thesis has determined that three out of these four types of sexist attitudes were influential toward women in professional sports, specifically the USWNT.

Accessibility Status

Searchable text

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.