When Does Gender Matter?: Women Candidates and Gender Stereotypes in American Elections

When Does Gender Matter?: Women Candidates and Gender Stereotypes in American Elections

When Does Gender Matter?: Women Candidates and Gender Stereotypes in American Elections By Kathleen Dolan
2014 | 264 Pages | ISBN: 0199968276 , 0199968284 | PDF | 12 MB

As the number of women candidates for office in the U.S. increases each election cycle, scholars are confronted with questions about the impact of their sex on their chances of success. Chief among these questions involves the influence of gender stereotypes on the decisions voters make in elections in which women run against men. Previous research documents that voters see women and men as possessing different character traits and different abilities to handle policy issues. These findings, combined with anecdotal evidence of sexist attitudes toward women candidates, raises concerns that women candidates are hampered by their sex and gender considerations. Employing data from an original survey of 3150 U.S. adults conducted in 2010, this book confronts scholarly concerns that gender stereotypes work to undermine women's chances of success. Challenging the conventional wisdom, these data demonstrate that voters do not rely heavily on gender stereotypes when evaluating and voting for women candidates. Voters do hold gendered attitudes, both positive and negative, about women candidates, but these attitudes are not related to the political decisions voters make. Instead, in deciding for whom to vote, people are influenced by traditional political forces, like political party and incumbency, regardless of the sex of the candidates. There is also evidence that partisan stereotypes interact with gender stereotypes to influence reactions to candidates, both women and men, depending on their political party. In the end, this project demonstrates that women candidates win as often as do men and that partisan concerns trump gender every time.


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