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Emotional, Sensitive, and Unfit for Office? Gender Stereotype Activation and Support Female Candidates

December 2015

Nichole M. Bauer


This study measured how gender stereotypes affect support for female candidates. It found that women are not negatively impacted by stereotypes until they are seen to possess stereotypical traits. Both men and women rank female candidates with stereotypical traits lower than those that do not. However, this effect is stronger among men than women. When gender stereotypes are activated for female candidates, they receive less electoral support, but they receive equal support as men when they do not activate these stereotypes.

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Policy Implications

The article states that female candidates may sometimes embrace gender stereotypes in order to counteract criticisms that they are not feminine enough. However, the authors suggest against doing this, as it has negative consequences on the campaign. Women do not necessarily need to take offensive, counter-stereotypical strategies to downplay stereotypes before they are activated, but they should try to limit information that does conform.

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