Faculty Publications

Me? A Hero? Gendered Work And Attributions Of Heroism Among Volunteers During The Covid-19 Pandemic

Document Type



COVID-19, gender, heroes, heroism, labour, work

Journal/Book/Conference Title



The gendered features of adults’ attributions of heroism to themselves and others has received substantially less scholarly attention than the gendered dynamics of media representations of (super)heroes. Utilizing 78 interviews and 569 self-administered questionnaires completed by adults in the United States who were voluntarily making personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic, we show how respondents effectively deployed popularized assessments of the relative value of gendered labour in the private and public spheres to shift attributions of heroism from themselves to others. Though media portrayals at the outset of the pandemic depicted these volunteers working in their homes as heroes, respondents insisted that the real heroes were those working in the public sphere. Even if media representations increasingly frame women as heroes, these results suggest that the long-standing associations between men and heroism will likely remain in place if feminized labour associated with the private sphere of households remains devalued.


Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version