In 2009, women are still dramatically underrepresented in elected office in the United States. Though the reasons for this are complex, public attitudes toward this situation are no doubt of importance. While a number of scholars have demonstrated that women candidates do not suffer at the ballot box because of their sex, we should not assume that this means that voter attitudes about gender are irrelevant to politics. Indeed, individual attitudes towards women’s representation in government and a desire for greater descriptive representation of women may shape attitudes and behaviors in situations when people are faced with a woman candidate. This project provides a more complete understanding of the determinants of the public’s desire (or lack thereof) to see more women in elective office and support them in different circumstances. The primary mechanism proposed to explain these attitudes is gender stereotypes. Gender stereotypes about the abilities and traits of political women and men are clear and well documented and could easily serve to shape an individual’s evaluations about the appropriate level and place for women in office. Drawing on an original survey of 1039 U.S. adults, and evaluating both issue and trait stereotypes, I demonstrate the ways in which sex stereotypes do and do not influence public willingness to support women in various electoral situations.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: May 22, 2009
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