Conspiracy theories about gender equality initiatives within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

  • Bethan Iley (Invited speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Abstract: Gender equality initiatives (GEIs) face considerable backlash, which has sometimes developed into conspiracy theorizing about their true nature. Despite serious implications, including an association with far-right radicalization, formal research on this topic remains limited. This study aimed to develop a measure of conspiracy theories about GEIs, then to identify how these relate to broader conspiracy beliefs and gender-based attitudes. 15 items were developed using conspiracy theories present on social media, blogs and image board websites. An exploratory factor analysis indicated two sub-scales: 11 items measuring conspiracy beliefs opposing GEIs, and a two items measuring transphobic conspiracy theories. Men were more likely to endorse conspiracy theories opposing GEIs than women, but no gender difference emerged for endorsement of transphobic conspiracy theories. Realistic threat, hostile sexism, modern sexism, and general conspiracy beliefs emerged as significant predictors of conspiracy beliefs opposing GEIs. These findings suggest that conspiracy beliefs about GEIs can be measured, but further work is needed to identify the mechanisms underlying these beliefs.
Period27 Sep 2021
Event titleSchool of Psychology Annual Postgraduate Research Conference
Event typeConference
LocationBelfast, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionLocal


  • gender
  • gender equality
  • conspiracy theories
  • attitude inoculation