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Psychology of Women Quarterly, 19 (1995), 439472. Printed in the United States of America.

FEATUREARTICLE

THE SCHEDULE OF SEXIST EVENTS
A Measure of fifetime and Recent Sexist
Discrimination in Women’s fives

Elizabeth A. Klonoff
Behavioral Health Institute & Department of Psychology,
California State University, San Bernardino
Hope Landrine

Public Health Foundation

This paper describes the development, reliability, and validity of the
Schedule of Sexist Events (SSE), a measure of lifetime and recent (past
year) sexist discrimination in women’s lives. A culturally diverse standardization sample of 631 women completed the 20-item SSE. Factor
analyses revealed that the SSE-Lifetime and SSE-Recent have four factors: Sexist Degradation, Sexism in Distant Relationships, Sexism in
Close Relationships, and Sexist Discrimination in the Workplace. The
SSE-Lifetime and SSE-Recent scales had high internal-consistency (.92,
.go) and split-half (.87, .83) reliability, and the factors were similarly
reliable. Validity was established by demonstrating that scores on the
SSE-Lifetime and SSE-Recent correlate as well with two other measures
of stressful events (the Hassles Frequency and the PERI-Life Events
scales [PERI-LES]) as those measures correlate with each other. Sexist
discrimination (events) can be understood as gender-specific, negative
life events (stressors). Descriptive data indicated that sexist discrimination is rampant in women’s lives. Additional analyses revealed significant status differences in experiencing sexist discrimination, with
women of color reporting more sexism in their lives than White women.
The authors acknowledge the following individuals for their assistance in data collection:
Georgina Aponte, Alma Beltran, Heather Berg, Melissa Coolidge, Samantha Curry, Jennifer
Dunham, Francine Flordelis, Jeannine Gibbs, Kecia Harper, Elizabeth Heaps, Donald Kelly,
Kirnberley Laschober, Marlene Lund, Vickie Manning, Richard Myers, Kenneth Newman,
Mary Oliverio, Tamara Sehi, Victoria Sullivan, and Deborah Wishart.
Address correspondence and reprint request to: Elizabeth Klonoff, Professor of Psychology,
California State University, 5500 University Parkway, San Bernardino, CA 92407.
Published by Cambridge University Press 0361-6643195 $7.50

+ .10

439

KLONOFFAND hNDRlNE

440

theoretical model is presented along with suggestions for research on the impact of such discrimination on women‘s physical and
mental health.
A brief

The empirical literature from several social sciences provides ample evidence of widespread discrimination against women. Sexist discrimination
has been documented in all arenas ranging from ignoring and distancing
women in face-to-face situations (Lott, 1987, 1989), to the sexual harassment of women students, faculty (Paludi, 1990), and federal workers
(United States Merit System Protection Board, 1981), to the unfair and
unequal treatment of women in employment, housing, and health and
social services (e.g., Feagin & Feagin, 1978; Klein, 1984; Krieger, 1990).
In recent polls (e.g., Harris & Associates, 1985; Krieger, 1990), large
percentages of women reported experiencing sexist discrimination of some
type (e.g., in salaries), and many men similarly reported that women
are discriminated against. Data from these brief telephone/live interview
studies also showed that younger women tend to report more discrimination than do their older cohorts, presumably because the women’s movement has altered public perceptions of the acceptability of gender discrimination (Klein, 1984).
Although sexist discrimination undoubtedly has a negative impact on
women’s physical and mental health, there are few studies examining this
impact (Krieger’s (1990) study of the role of employment discrimination
in hypertension among women is a notable exception). The reason for this
may be the absence of a scale to assess and quantify sexist discrimination,
making it possible to examine the prevalence and impact of such discrimination on women’s lives. By facilitating empirical demonstrations of the
prevalence and psychosocial and health costs of sexism, such a scale could
play a role in social change. Thus, in this article we present such a scale,
the Schedule of Sexist Events (SSE). We describe the 20-item scale, its
factor structure, reliability, and validity. We also present preliminary
data on the prevalence of various types of sexist discrimination in the lives
of the 631 women who constituted our standardization sample. Ethnic,
age, and marital status differences in experiencing sexist discrimination
are included in the analyses.
A General Theoretical Model

Sexist discrimination takes a variety of forms and includes being sexually
harassed; being treated unfairly by family members and spouses/partners;
being treated unfairly by teachers and professors; being called sexist names
such as “ b i t c h or “chick; being discriminated against by people in various professions; being discriminated against by strangers (e.g., who ignore
one’s presence, fail to yield space, or behave in a hostile manner); being

,

f

Sexist Events

44 1

discriminated against by institutions such as banks and schools in loans,
scholarships, and admittance; being discriminated against by neighbors;
being perceived as “aggressive” or “uppity” for normal, assertive behavior;
and being discriminated against at work in salaries, promotions, tenure,
and assignments, as well as by one’s colleagues and co-workers. These
various types of sexist discrimination can all be conceptualized as specific
sexist events that are analogous to the generic, life events (e.g., getting
married, getting a new job) and hassles assessed by popular measures of
stressful events (e.g., the Psychiatric Epidemiology Research InterviewLife Events Scale [PERI-LES]; Dohrenwend, Krasnoff, Askenasy, &
Dohrenwend, 1978; and the Hassles Frequency Scale [Hassles-F];
Kanner, Coyne, Schaeffer, & Lazarus, 1981). Thus, we conceptualize
the various domainsltypes of sexist discrimination as sexist events, and
view them as gender-specific, negative life events, that is, as genderspecific stressors. Sexist events can be viewed as gender-specific stressors
because they are negative events (stressors) that happen to women, because they are women.
By conceptualizing sexist events as gender-specific, negative life events
or stressors that are analogous to generic life events, theoretical models and
lines of investigation from stress research (e.g., Lazarus, 1966; Lazarus,
DeLongis, Folkman, & Gruen, 1985; Lazarus & Folkman, 1986; Lazarus
& Launier, 1978) can be applied. Thus, sexist events can be conceptualized as occurring frequently or infrequently and so might be measured in
that manner. Like other stressful life events, sexist events also can be
conceptualized as acute (recent) and chronic (lifetime), and the impact of
recent versus lifetime sexist discrimination can be examined. Likewise, a
factor analysis of (the frequencies of) various types of sexist events would
be appropriate. It would yield information on the various domains (factors) of discrimination, and be similar to the domains of generic life events
(e.g., work stress, relationship stress; see Dohrenwend et al., 1978). As is
the case for the factors of generic life events, different factors of sexist
events should be differentially related to women’s physical and mental
health. Likewise, the way that women cope with sexist events is likely to
vary considerably; coping style and skills probably mediate the negative
impact of sexist events, just as they mediate the impact of generic life
events and hassles (e.g., Billings & Moos, 1981). In addition, as is the case
for generic life events, the negative impact of sexist events is likely to be
mediated by social support (e.g., Cohen & Wills, 1985) and by some
personality factors such as hardiness (e.g., Kobasa, 1979). Similarly,
women probably differ in their appraisal of sexist events as stressful (e.g.,
Lazarus, 1966). Although women may experience a specific, sexist event
equally frequently, one woman may appraise it as far more stressful, thus
necessitating greater adjustment and coping, than would another.
Finally, however, we hypothesize that sexist events differ from generic
life events and generic daily hassles in two important ways. First, as gen-

442

KLONOFF AND bNDRlNE

der-specific stressors, sexist events are hypothesized to have a greater negative impact on women’s physical and mental health than do generic life
events, even when controlling for appraisal, social support, and coping
style. This is because sexist events are inherently demeaning, degrading,
and highly personal; they are attacks upon and negative responses to something essential about the self that cannot be changed: being a woman.
Sexist discrimination thereby has a higher potential to erode women’s
physical and mental health. Second, feminist consciousness may be a personality factor that (like hardiness for generic life events) mediates the
negative impact of sexist events. By providing a cognitive framework for
understanding and responding to sexist events, feminist consciousness
should decrease the perception of these events as one’s own fault, increase
active coping, and decrease the negative impact of these events. Feminist
consciousness also might increase sensitivity to and awareness of sexism,
and so may affect the reporting of sexist events.
We constructed the SSE with this general stress theoretical model in
mind, and modeled the scale after the PERI-LES and Hassles-F, the two
major measures of stressful events. Thus, the items assessed the frequency
(but not the appraisal) of specific sexist events from a variety of domains
in a woman’s life recently (the past year) as well as in her entire lifetime.
Studies examining women’s differences in the appraisal of these events as
stressful are currently underway.
METHOD
Participants

The sample consisted of 631 women who completed a questionnaire. Their
ages ranged from 18 to 73 years ( M = 32.14, SD = 11.74, Man = 29).
They represented 403 White women and 228 women of color (117 Latinas, 38 Blacks, 25 Asian Americans, and 46 members of other ethnic
groups). Two hundred ninety-two were single, 238 were married, and 101
were divorced, separated, or widowed. The majority (340) had taken
some college classes, 129 had a high school education or less, and 119 had
college or graduate degrees. Their incomes ranged from zero to $400,000
per year ( M = $34,058, SD = $34,370).
Procedure

Women were approached in classrooms and sororities on a large college
campus and asked to complete an anonymous survey; 294 college students
completed it. In addition, women were approached in nine small office
buildings and asked to complete the questionnaire. Five visits also were
made to the local airport, where women waiting for flights were asked to

443

Sexist Events

complete the survey. A total of 337 adult women from the community
participated.
Materials

The major instrument in the questionnaire was the SSE, shown in the
Appendix. The SSE is a self-report inventory consisting of 20 items rated
on scales that range from 1 = the event never happened to 6 = the event
happens almost all of the time. The 20 questions were constructed by the
authors to assess the frequency with which a woman has experienced sexist
events of various types in a diversity of settings. Examples are: (#2) “How
many times have you been treated unfairly by your employer, boss or
supervisors because you are woman?”; (#13) “How many times have people made inappropriate or unwanted sexual advances to you because you
are a woman?”; (#18) “How many times have you been called a sexist
name like bitch, cunt, chick, or other names?”; and (#l7) “How many
times were you forced to take drastic steps (such as filing a grievance,
filing a lawsuit, quitting your job, moving away, and other actions) to
deal with some sexist thing that was done to you?.” Only one item (#13)
on sexual harassment (narrowly defined) was included because scales assessing sexual harassment exist (e.g., Lee & Heppner, 1991), and because
the SSE’s purpose is to assess more global sexist discrimination. Each item
in the SSE is completed twice, once for the frequency of these sexist events
in a woman’s entire life (Lifetime Sexist Events), and once for the frequency of these events in the past year (Recent Sexist Events). These two
kinds of data are examined separately to yield information on the frequency of sexist discrimination in women’s entire lives versus recently.
In addition to the SSE, all women received a page requesting demographic information. Finally, 551 of the women received the SSE along
with the PERI-LES (Dohrenwend et al., 1978) and the Hassles-F (Kanner, Coyne, Schaeffer, & Lazarus, 1981). The latter two scales measure
generic, stressful life events.
RESULTS
Descriptive Data

Frequency of Lijetime Sexist Events/Discrimination
Of the 631 women in the sample, only 6 (1 % ) reported never experiencing
a sexist event/discrimination of any type in their entire lives; the majority
(99 % ) of the sample reported experiencing sexist events at least once in
their lives, with some events reported more frequently than others. Table
1 displays data on the percentage of women who indicated experiencing
each type of sexist event in their lifetimes; columns indicate how fre-

P
P
P

35.4
30.5
34.4
36.8
40.6
34.4
23.8
30.7
25.7
21.9
30.0
44.1
35.1
40.8
15.2
39.5
37.4
32.6
22.8
28.2

46.9
39.9
41.9
23.0
26.8
40.9
66.4
25.1
59.6
54.5
18.0
17.3
14.8
24.3
80.9
17.8
34.1
43.6
5.9
30.3
12.0
18.7
16.4
24.0
21.5
15.8
7.0
21.2
8.8
10.9
26.3
21.2
22.0
19.4
2.4
22.1
17.6
13.5
27.1
23.8

the Time

4.1
6.4
5.4
11.5
7.5
5.5
1.6
14.1
3.4
6.0
16.2
12.1
15.6
8.0
0.3
12.9
7.0
5.7
25.1
12.3

4.
26-49% Of
the Time
1.0
3.1
1.5
2.9
2.6
1.8
0.3
5.0
2.1
3.6
5.0
3.4
6.5
3.6
0.7
4.6
2.6
3.1
10.1
3.0

5.
50-70% Of
the Time

0.6
1.5
0.5
1.8
1.0
1.5
0.8
3.9
0.3
3.1
4.4
2.0
6.0
3.9
0.5
3.1
1.3
1.5
9.0
2.5

the Time

53.1
60.1
58.1
77.0
73.2
59.1
33.6
74.9
40.4
45.5
82.0
82.7
85.2
75.7
19.1
82.2
65.9
56.4
94.1
69.7

Did Happen
(100 % minus
Column 1 )

6.

> 70 % of

Note: The wording for each item can be found in the Appendix. Because items 8, 12, and 22 did not load on any factor, they were omitted from the SSE and are not shown.

1. Teachers
2. Employer
3. Colleagues
4. Service folk
5. Strangers
6. Helping
7. Neighbors
9. Boyfriend
10. Work
11. Family
13. Sex.Harr
14. Norespect
15. Telloff
16. Anger
17. Lawsuit
18. Names
19. Fights
20. Harmed
21. Jokes
23. Total Impact

Item #

3.
10-25% of

2.

U p to 1 0%
of the Time

1.

Never
Happened

Percent of the sample reporting specific sexist events in their lifetimes:
Lifetime frequency of the event - percent of time it happened to participant

Table 1

Sexist Events

445

quently each eventhype of discrimination occurred, and cells show the
percentage of women reporting that frequency. The last column on the
right (column 7) shows the percentage of women who have ever, in their
entire lives, experienced the sexist event in question; the full content of
each item is given in the Appendix.
As shown in Table 1, the most common sexist event was being forced to
listen to sexist jokeslsexually degrading jokes, something that 94.1 % of the
sample reported experiencing at least once in their lives. Other common
sexist events (i.e., those experienced by the majority of the sample at least
once in their lives (column 7)) were: being sexually harassed (82% of the
sample); being called sexist names (82.2%);being treated with a lack of
respect (82.7%);wanting to tell someone off for being sexist (85.25%);
feeling very angry about something sexist that has happened (75.7%);and
being discriminated against by strangers (73.2%) and people in service
jobs (77%) because one is a woman. A frighteningly large percentage of
the sample (56.4% ) reported being picked-on, hit, shoved, or threatened
with harm because of being a woman, 40.4% reported being denied a
raise or promotion because of being a woman, and 19.1 % reported filing
a lawsuit or grievance or taking some other drastic step in response to
sexist discrimination.
Frequency of Recent Sexist Events/Discrimination
Table 2 displays similar data for sexist events experienced in the past year.
Only 19 of the 631 women ( 3 % ) reported never experiencing any sexist
eventldiscrimination in the past year; 97 % of the sample reported experiencing some type of sexist discrimination in the past year, with some types
being more common for the sample than others. As shown in Table 2,
common, recent sexist events/discrimination (experienced at least once by
the women in the past year) were: being forced to listen to sexist jokes/
sexually degrading jokes (83.8%);wanting to tell someone off for being
sexist (72.1%);and being treated unfairly by people in service jobs because one is a woman (61.9%). A substantial number of women reported
that in the past year they had been discriminated against by their boss/
employer (32.1% ); had been denied a promotion or raise (18.3% ) because
they are women; had been picked-on, hit, pushed, or threatened with
harm because they are women (29.4 %); and had filed a lawsuit/grievance
(8.7%)in response to sexist discrimination.
White women ( n = 403) and women of color ( n = 228) reported
highly similar experiences with sexist events/discrimination in their lifetimes as well as in the past year (data not shown, but available from the
authors). For example, 94.7% of White women and 93.1 % of women of
color reporting being forced to listen to sexist jokes at least once in their
lifetimes. Although there were many similarities, some significant differences also appeared. Those analyses are reported later.
These descriptive data suggest that sexist discrimination is an experience

QI

P
P

75.2
67.9
63.5
38.1
41.4
59.6
80.3
49.8
81.7
70.9
44.6
38.2
27.9
47.9
91.3
46.2
56.3
70.6
16.2
47.9
18.6
19.2
23.9
39.4
42.3
29.1
14.4
29.2
12.2
18.0
28.1
39.5
36.4
31.5
5.4
33.0
27.7
21.2
36.7
28.2

2.
Up to 10%
of the Time
3.

3.7
6.2
8.7
14.7
11.8
7.3
3.8
11.1
3.0
4.2
16.6
12.8
16.1
10.8
1.0
10.9
8.1
3.9
19.7
13.6

10-25% of
the Time

5.
50-70% of
the Time
0.5
2.3
1.3
1.8
1.3
1.2
0.5
2.5
1.0
1.5
2.8
3.0
4.6
2.3
0.8
3.0
1.8
1.0
6.7
1.6

4.
26-49% of
the Time

1.5
3.3
2.3
5.6
2.5
2.3
1.0
4.9
1.8
2.9
5.5
5.6
10.3
4.4
0.8
5.4
4.6
2.3
14.4
7.2

0.5
1.0
0.2
0.5
0.7
0.5
0
2.5
0.3
2.5
2.4
1.0
4.8
3.1
0.7
1.5
1.5
1.0
6.2
1.5

6.
>70% of
the Time

24.8
32.1
36.5
61.9
58.6
40.4
19.7
50.2
18.3
29.1
55.4
61.8
72.1
52.1
8.7
53.8
43.7
29.4
83.8
52.1

Did Happen
(100% Minus
Column 1 )

Note: The wording for each item can be found in the Appendix. Because Items 8, 12, and 22 did not load on any factor, they were omitted from the SSE and are not shown.

1. Teachers
2. Employer
3. Colleagues
4. Service folk
5. Strangers
6. Helping
7. Neighbors
9. Boyfriend
10. Work
11. Family
13. Sex.Harr
14. No respect
15. Tell off
16. Anger
17. Lawsuit
18. Names
19. Fights
20. Harmed
21. Jokes
23. Total Impact

Item #

1.
Never
Happened

Table 2
Percent of the sample reporting specific sexist events in the past year:
Recent frequency of the event - percent of time it happened to participant

Sexist Events

447

common to almost all women, and that some types of sexist events are
more widely distributed than others. These frequency data are provided
in detail in Tables 1 and 2 for use by others. By using the sample size, the
percentages displayed can be converted back into cell frequencies and used
in a variety of chi-square or loglinear models and analyses. We invite
others to conduct the many analyses of these data that are needed (e.g.,
are some events significantly more likely to occur than others?) to elucidate the nature and pattern of sexist discrimination in women’s lives;
we have not conducted such analyses because our major purpose is scale
construction and evaluation.
Factor Structure of the SSE-Lifetime and SSE-Recent

Factor Analysis of Lifetime Sexist Events
The ratings given by the sample to the items for lifetime frequency were
separated from those for past year frequency, and analyzed as their own
scale, SSE-Lifetime. These data (for the sample as a whole) were entered
into a principle components analysis (PCA) with an orthogonal rotation
and factors retained based on an eigenvalue equal to or greater than 1.00.
These results are displayed in Table 3 (with item numbers and their factor
loadings), along with internal-consistency reliability data for each factor
and for the SSE-Lifetime as a whole. As shown, the 20 items of the SSELifetime emerged as four factors, accounting for 58.8 % of the variance.
We named these factors Sexist Degradation and its Consequences (40.1%
of the variance), Sexist Discrimination in Distant Relationships (7.8% ),
Sexism in Close Relationships (5.9%), and Sexist Discrimination in the
Workplace (5.0%), with these names meant to reflect the content of the
items that loaded in each factor.
Factor analyses of the SSE-Lifetime were then repeated to assure that
the above factor structure would hold for all women, irrespective of their
backgrounds. Similar PCAs (i.e., with an orthogonal rotation and eigenvalue > 1.00 to retain factors) were conducted for the 294 college students
and for the 337 community women separately. These data (not shown
here but available from the authors) indicated that the factor structure of
the SSE-Lifetime held across these two groups of women, and was essentially the same for both. Thus, the SSE-Lifetime factors can be employed
in research with college students as well as with community samples.
Likewise, to assure that the factor structure of the SSE-Lifetime applies
to women irrespective of ethnicity, similar PCAs were conducted separately for the 228 women of color and the 403 White women. These are
shown in Table 4 by item numbers and their associated factor loadings. As
indicated, the factor structure of the SSE-Lifetime held well across ethnicity. The difference between the factors by ethnicity was that four factors
emerged for White women and only three for women of color; this is
because for women of color all items on sexism in relationships (close or


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