The Effects of a Women's Conference On Participant Attitudes Toward Women's Roles In Society

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Stanford P. Gwin

Advisor Department

Communication Studies


Purpose of the Study. The general purpose of this study was to investigate the effects a women's conference had on the female participants' attitudes toward women's roles in society. The study also examined the relationship between the independent demographic variables, programs attended at "Images '79: Focus on Women," time spent in informal conversation with other participants, and the independent variable of attitudes toward women's roles in society. The ultimate goal of this study was to determine the effect of the conference, as a series of communication events comprising speeches and panel discussions as a whole entity, on attitude change. Procedures. The subjects for this study were 74 female conference participants and 68 nonparticipant women who served as a control group. Participants completed a personal data form and the Attitudes Toward Women Scale (AWS), a pretest, following registration at "Images '79." The AWS was administered as a second posttest two and one-half months after the conference to the participant group. The nonparticipant group, randomly selected from the conference mailing list, comprised 68 women who did not attend "Images '79." The nonparticipants completed a pretest questionnaire which included the personal data questions and the Attitudes Toward Women Scale one week prior to the conference. An AWS posttest was administered two and one-half months after the conference with questions soliciting reasons for nonattendance. Analysis of covariance, multiple linear regression, and multiple correlation analysis were utilized to test the hypotheses of the study. Findings. The participant sample group did not significantly change their attitudes toward women's roles in a liberal direction following "Images '79: Focus on Women." Preconference attitudes of the participant group were more liberal than those of the nonparticipant group. Additional conclusions were that (1) the independent demographic variables, program attendance, and informal conversation with other participants did have a significant relationship with attitudes; (2) significant relationships existed between sex-role attitudes and education, selected occupations, years lived in Mississippi, and number of programs attended by the participants; (3) the messages of the conference can be considered to have funtioned as reinforcement for existing attitudes; (4) there was not a significant correlation between total number of programs attended and attitude change in a liberal direction; and (5) change scores of the AWS subsets were not correlated with attendance at corresponding programs.