How Gender Bias Plays A Role In Elections
Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina will have a more challenging time than their male opponents convincing voters that they’re qualified to lead our country — and it’s all because of how gender bias emerges in the voting booth.
Female candidates have to be more qualified than their male opponents to succeed in an election because many voters have a hard time seeing women as leaders, according to research conducted by Dr. Cecilia Hyunjung Mo, an assistant professor of political science at Vanderbilt University.
“Based upon my research, Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina have the challenge of clearly demonstrating to voters that they are more qualified than their male counterparts,” she told The Huffington Post. “And they have the additional challenge of figuring out how to be more qualified in the ways that matter to most voters today.”
Even if voters explicitly say that they are happy to have a female president, the research shows that their unconscious biases still can influence their candidate preferences, Mo said in the video below, released by the university on Monday.
For the research, published in the June edition of the journal Political Behavior, Mo asked 407 men and women in Florida to take the Implicit Association Test, a social psychology metric that measures the strength of a person’s automatic associations and hidden biases.
In the test, participants had to pair traditionally male or female names and images with words such as “leader” or “assistant.” Mo specifically decided to survey Florida residents because the percentage of female elected officials in Florida at the time of the research was similar to the national percentage: 23 percent of officeholders in Florida were women, versus 24 percent nationally.
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