Gender Equality in the Political Arena Essay

Gender Equality in the Political Arena Essay

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Does one’s sex still count in politics? Today, there are ninety-four women in Congress. Looking at this figure alone, one can argue that women are well represented, therefore there appears to be no gender bias. The reality is that a bias does exist. Not a bias that prevents women from being elected into office; but a bias that may affect how voters perceive women candidates to be on certain issues. Indirectly, this bias may make a women’s success of winning an election less likely. Some stereotypes of female politicians are that they have expertise on domestic issues such as education and healthcare because of their feminine roles as caretakers. Women candidates are also perceived to be warm and sensitive (Alexander and Andersen 1993; King and Matland 2003; Dolan and Sanbonmatsu 2009). These stereotypes help shape a voter’s opinion when he/she enters the voting booth. The studies listed earlier show how these and other stereotypes influence voters about female candidates and their leadership abilities, as well as their position in domestic and foreign policy. Alexander and Andersen (1993) took a survey of 98 respondents during the 1990 campaigns in Syracuse, New York. During this time there were three male-female races being contested. Alexander and Andersen not only look at female stereotypes; they also look at the effect that incumbency and familiarity with the candidate had on voters (527). Years later, King and Matland (2003) conducted an experiment where 820 adults were given a set of questions involving two fictitious Republican candidates; one male, one female. These questions were to determine whether the perception of the candidate changes due to gender stereotypes and/or party affiliation (King and Mat...


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...E. Matland. 2003. “Sex and the Grand Old Party: An Experiment Investigation of the Effect of Candidate Sex on Support for a Republican Candidate.” American Political Research. 31(6): 595-612.

Koch,J. W. 2000. “Do citizens apply gender stereotypes to infer candidates’ ideological orientations?” The Journal of Politics, 62: 414-429.
Koch,J. W. 2002. “Gender stereotypes and citizens’ impressions of house candidates’ ideological orientations.” American Journal of Political Science, 46(2): 453-462.

McDermott,M. L. 1997. “Voting cues in low-information elections: Candidate gender as a social information variable in contemporary United States elections.” American Journal of Political Science, 41(1): 270-283.

Rapoport,R. B., Metcalf, K. L., & Hartman,J. A. 1989. “Candidate traits and voter inferences: An experimental study.” Journal of Politics, 51(4): 917-932.

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