Political Science Gender and Electoral Politics in the United States
by
Kelly Dittmar, Kira Sanbonmatsu
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 November 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0137

Introduction

From foundational works on women’s entry into the masculine sphere of politics to the most recent debates over the causes of gender disparities in participation and officeholding, academic research has asked how women navigate, succeed in, and influence political campaigns as candidates and voters. A central issue of scholarly debate has been the causes of and barriers to female candidate emergence. Early scholarship shifted from emphasizing social and psychological factors influencing women’s decision to run to focusing on structural factors impeding women’s entry and election to office. However, more recent work on political ambition has reignited this debate, with studies recognizing the relationship between social and structural factors in shaping female candidate recruitment and selection. This debate is grounded on a shared perception of the gendered nature of American politics and elections. Scholars examine the influence of gender stereotypes on elite perceptions in candidate recruitment, voter expectations and evaluations of candidates, and candidate strategy. Intersectional approaches to understanding gender and electoral dynamics have enriched this research, pushing scholars to grapple with distinct realities for political actors at the intersections of multiple identities, experiences, and stereotypical expectations. Gender dynamics vary as well by type and level of office, as have the data available and methodologies used to study women’s candidacies. Research on women’s election to office has employed multiple methodological tools, including multivariate analyses of electoral outcomes across campaign conditions; surveys of voters, potential candidates, officeholders, and political practitioners; experimental testing of gender effects on perceptions and evaluations; analyses of campaign output and media coverage; interviews with party leaders and political consultants; and case studies of political campaigns. Surveys and analyses of voter data have served as the primary methodologies used to investigate women’s political participation in American elections. However, the operationalization of “participation” itself has spurred scholarly debate, with gender and race research seeking to expand existing measures of what is deemed political; scholars have waged similar critiques against methodologies and measures used to evaluate political knowledge. As with research on women candidates, the study of women’s political participation confronts questions about gender roles and women’s transition from the private to the public sphere first made starkly evident through women’s winning and exercise of the vote. A major literature has developed, particularly since the 1980s, on the gender gap in public opinion, party identification, and voting, demonstrating the evolution of women’s influence and behavior as voters. Scholars examine the implications of women’s louder political voice to demonstrate women’s electoral impact both on and before Election Day.

General Overviews

Multiple edited volumes dedicated to major themes in women and American politics have been published since 2000. The books cited in this section provide comprehensive reviews of existing literature and insights into new questions, findings, and contexts within which to examine gender dynamics in electoral politics. Carroll and Fox 2014 and Thomas and Wilcox 2014 are best suited as texts for undergraduate courses due to chapter organization, range of topics covered, accessibility of content, and frequent updates. Carroll and Fox 2014 analyzes important aspects of gender, race, and campaigns from state legislative to presidential levels in the latest presidential election year. Thomas and Wilcox 2014 includes chapters examining the behavior and impact of women in office, the influence of ideology and sexuality among elected women, and research on judicial women, in addition to those focusing on gender and campaigns. Wolbrecht, et al. 2008 bridges research on women and American politics with thoughtful essays on the study of gender and American politics, capturing contemporary debates and combining original research with detailed reviews of existing literature. Carroll 2003 focuses explicitly on the study of women and American politics, offering a collection of essays offering new approaches to and new questions for the field. Reading Carroll 2003 today facilitates analysis of evolution in research and findings since its publication.

  • Carroll, Susan J., ed. Women and American Politics: New Questions, New Directions. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

    DOI: 10.1093/0198293488.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Lays out a research agenda for women and American politics scholarship at the start of the 21st century in areas of gender and political recruitment, campaign strategy, fundraising, political parties, voting, media bias, intersectionality, and overall participation.

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  • Carroll, Susan J., and Richard L. Fox, eds. Gender and Elections: Shaping the Future of American Politics. 3d ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

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    Timely edited volume that includes overviews of major topics in gender and elections, illustrating gender dynamics in the most recent presidential election year. Chapters are appropriate for undergraduate students and are organized to easily serve as course units.

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  • Thomas, Sue, and Clyde Wilcox, eds. Women and Elective Office: Past, Present and Future. 3d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199328734.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Extensive edited volume that covers major themes and topics related to women’s paths to and campaigns for office and their impact as officeholders. Book is appropriate as a text for undergraduate courses and is updated regularly to reflect changing political dynamics.

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  • Wolbrecht, Christina, Karen Beckwith, and Lisa Baldez, eds. Political Women and American Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511790621Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Inclusive edited volume that grapples with theoretical approaches, offers original research, and analyzes the state of research on women’s candidacies, political participation, and officeholding. Book is appropriate for advanced undergraduates to experts.

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Foundational Works

The 1970s and 1980s were important decades for the study of women and American electoral politics. The modern Women’s Movement and gains in women’s elective officeholding provided researchers with rich material for analysis and a space to create new questions, approaches, and methodologies. The books cited here represent some of the most important works from this period. Kirkpatrick 1974, Jaquette 1974, Mandel 1981, and Klein 1984 provide novel insights into women’s evolving experiences with politics. These texts carefully consider how women perceived and negotiated their status in electoral politics and identified core themes around gender and politics that would influence subsequent research. Githens and Prestage 1977 is an observation of how the situation of women as outsiders in politics has fundamentally shaped their experiences. Carroll 1985 provides an unprecedented look at women candidates. Giddings 1984 shows that the contemporary situation of black women cannot be understood without a comprehensive understanding of the struggles for race and gender equality. Tilly and Gurin 1990, an edited volume, captures the central questions and approaches of this initial period of research.

Women’s Election to Office

Research investigating women’s election to office has focused on different phases of the electoral process. Findings demonstrating that women candidates fare as well as similarly situated men in electoral outcomes have spurred scholars to look earlier in the process for causes of gender disparities in representation. Many studies have examined barriers to candidate emergence. Debates persist over whether social barriers, such as women’s lack of political ambition, structural or systems-level obstacles, or a combination thereof, are responsible for impeding the political candidacies of women. At the stage of candidacy, researchers have asked how underlying gender norms and dynamics inform campaign strategy, resources, and coverage of male and female candidates. Even if women win campaigns at equitable rates to men, this work demonstrates men and women’s different paths to political office. Those paths vary, too, by electoral context, office level and type of office, candidate race, and party. Specifying the sites for gender dynamics, strategies for navigating them, and the causes of women’s underrepresentation are major themes in this area of scholarship.

Recruitment and Selection

The questions of whether women are disadvantaged when they seek office, how they successfully reach office, and why they continue to be underrepresented are core concerns of scholarship about women and electoral politics. Research has evaluated the institutional barriers and opportunities facing women as well as informal norms and practices. Most of these studies examine the election of women to Congress and state legislatures.

Structural Factors and Pathways to Office

Rule 1981 provides an example of early studies that leveraged variation in women’s officeholding to study women’s representation. The relationship between gender and success rates, analysis of women’s access to office across levels, consideration of incumbency, and the social eligibility pool explanation are considered in Darcy, et al. 1994. One of the central barriers to increasing women’s representation is the incumbency advantage and the overrepresentation of men among incumbents. But as Carroll and Jenkins 2001 shows, the adoption of term limits is not necessarily a solution. Gertzog 1995 demonstrates that how women reach office has changed over time. And as Darcy, et al. 1997 shows, the explanations for women’s officeholding must take race into account.

  • Carroll, Susan J., and Krista Jenkins. “Unrealized Opportunity? Term Limits and the Representation of Women in State Legislatures.” Women & Politics 23.4 (2001): 1–30.

    DOI: 10.1300/J014v23n04_01Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Detailed examination of state legislative term limit effects; the authors failed to find the hypothesized positive effect on women’s representation posited by reformers.

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  • Carroll, Susan J., and Kira Sanbonmatsu. More Women Can Run: Gender and Pathways to the State Legislatures. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199322428.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors analyzed the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) Recruitment Studies conducted in 1981 and 2008 to investigate women’s pathways to the legislatures and the reasons for the partisan imbalance in women’s officeholding. Advances the idea of women’s more “relationally embedded” decision making about candidacy.

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  • Darcy, R., Charles Hadley, and Jason Kirksey. “Election Systems and the Representation of Black Women in American State Legislatures.” In Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader. Edited by Cathy J. Cohen, Kathleen B. Jones, and Joan C. Tronto, 447–455. New York: New York University Press, 1997.

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    Demonstrates the complexity of the intersection of gender with race. Shows that black women fare better in multimember districts than black men.

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  • Darcy, R., Susan Welch, and Janet. Clark. Women, Elections and Representation. 2d ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994.

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    Argues for the importance of the social eligibility pool and incumbency rather than voter discrimination. The authors find that women are more likely to be elected from multimember districts.

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  • Gertzog, Irwin N. Congressional Women: Their Recruitment, Integration and Behavior. 2d ed. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1995.

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    Examines changes in women’s entrance into Congress, including the “widow’s path.”

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  • Hardy-Fanta, Carol, Pei-te Lien, and Dianne M. Pinderhughes. “Gender, Race, and Descriptive Representation in the United States: Findings from the Gender and Multicultural Leadership Project.” Journal of Women Politics & Policy 28.3–4 (2006): 7–41.

    DOI: 10.1300/J501v28n03_02Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Comprehensive investigation of diversity in elected officials across levels of office based on the Gender and Multicultural Leadership (GMCL) project. Finds women of color are likely to be elected from majority-minority districts.

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  • Rule, Wilma. “Why Women Don’t Run: The Critical Contextual Factors in Women’s Legislative Recruitment.” Western Political Quarterly 34 (1981): 60–77.

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    Rule examines the contextual determinants of women’s state legislative and congressional representation and such factors as socioeconomic indicators and political parties. She finds that recruitment and nomination factors were more important than eligibility factors.

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Elections

One of the simplest ways to gauge the merits of voter bias against women as a potential explanation for women’s underrepresentation is through a comparison of women and men candidates. The authors of Darcy and Schramm 1977 and, more recently, Lawless and Pearson 2008 and Burrell 2014 have used this approach and reach largely optimistic conclusions. However, Fulton 2012 and Pearson and McGhee 2013 argue that women do not compete on a level playing field. The geography of women’s election to office is also an important consideration because the election of a woman to Congress is an innovation that paves the way for the subsequent election of women, as Ondercin and Welch 2005 argues. Some districts have demographics more friendly to women’s candidacies than others, according to Palmer and Simon 2012. Dolan 2014 provides a recent example of research from the perspective of voters, finding that gender stereotypes do not keep women from reaching office.

  • Burrell, Barbara. Gender in Campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2014.

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    Extensive analysis of modern congressional elections, including women’s backgrounds, primary and general elections, the role of political parties, and fundraising. Concludes that women fare well compared with men.

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  • Darcy, R., and Sarah Slavin Schramm. “When Women Run against Men.” Public Opinion Quarterly 41.1 (1977): 1–12.

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    Classic article that demonstrates women congressional candidates fared similarly with men once party and incumbency were taken into account.

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  • Dolan, Kathleen A. When Does Gender Matter? Women Candidates and Gender Stereotypes in American Elections. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199968275.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Provides the most comprehensive investigation of the direct and indirect effects of gender stereotypes in contemporary elections. Gender stereotype effects, when they exist, were much less important to understanding voting than standard predictors.

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  • Fulton, Sarah. “Running Backwards and in High Heels: The Gendered Quality Gap and Incumbent Electoral Success.” Political Research Quarterly 65.2 (2012): 303–314.

    DOI: 10.1177/1065912911401419Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Revisits the conventional wisdom of a level playing field for women using the Candidate Emergence Study. Argues that incumbent women candidates do not fare as well as men once candidate quality is considered.

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  • Lawless, Jennifer L., and Kathryn Pearson. “The Primary Reason for Women’s Underrepresentation? Reevaluating the Conventional Wisdom.” Journal of Politics 70.1 (2008): 67–82.

    DOI: 10.1017/S002238160708005XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Extensive analysis of women’s entrance and success in congressional primaries from 1958 to 2004. Identified challenges women face in primary elections and found that women are more likely than men to enter a primary for a contest involving a female incumbent of the other party.

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  • Ondercin, H. L., and S. Welch. “Women Candidates for Congress.” In Women and Elective Office: Past, Present, and Future. 2d ed. Edited by Sue Thomas and Clyde Wilcox, 60–80. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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    Posits that the election of a woman in a given district is a “political innovation” that makes it more likely a woman will be elected subsequently.

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  • Palmer, Barbara, and Dennis Simon. Women and Congressional Elections: A Century of Change. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2012.

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    Comprehensive treatment of the history of women’s election to Congress, including attention to “women-friendly districts”—districts with demographics that are associated with electing women to Congress. Examines party and race/ethnic differences.

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  • Pearson, Kathryn, and Eric McGhee. “What It Takes to Win: Questioning Gender Neutral Outcomes in U.S. House Elections.” Politics & Gender 9.4 (2013): 439–462.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1743923X13000433Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds that women in both parties were more disadvantaged when they run for Congress than previously thought. Considers the role of candidate experience and the types of districts where women run.

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Parties, Candidate Emergence, and Political Ambition

Gender scholarship has been influenced by existing research about recruitment and candidate emergence and the related fields of parties and ambition. Political parties have been a site of women’s activism and are integral to candidacy. Candidacy can be conceptualized as the striving of ambitious politicians. But the origins of candidacy may lie in recruitment by actors such as parties. And even the most ambitious individuals make decisions within a larger social and political context. Gender scholars have worked within these research traditions while also questioning whether these frameworks can incorporate gender as a category.

Political Parties

Women’s access to elective office depends in part on their access to parties. As Freeman 2000 shows, women have struggled for inclusion. Burrell 2014 (cited under Elections) finds that the parties today support women and men equally when they run for Congress. Yet, questions remain about whether parties are gender neutral, as Niven 1998, Sanbonmatsu 2006, and Crowder-Meyer 2013 show. Studies have sought to explain the disproportionate success Democratic women have experienced compared with Republican women, as shown in Elder 2008 and Carroll and Sanbonmatsu 2013 (cited under Structural Factors and Pathways to Office).

Political Ambition

Early work considered whether women officeholders exhibited progressive ambition, or interest in seeking higher office. Scholars also questioned the appropriateness of the ambition framework for studying women’s representation. Lawless and Fox 2010 reinvigorated the debate about ambition as well as the study of socialization. Fox and Lawless 2014—the most recent version of this work—employs a sample of youth and college students to identify early factors shaping the ambition gender gap. Fulton, et al. 2006 and Mariani 2008 use the ambition framework to examine gender differences in seeking higher office by state legislators. Lien and Swain 2013 questions the appropriateness of the ambition framework in a study of women of color who are mayors.

  • Fox, Richard L., and Jennifer L. Lawless. “Uncovering the Origins of the Gender Gap in Political Ambition.” American Political Science Review 108.3 (2014): 499–519.

    DOI: 10.1017/s0003055414000227Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Unique examination of youth orientations toward politics and candidacy. The authors found gender differences in the early factors that lead to the development of ambition.

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  • Fulton, Sarah A., Cherie D. Maestas, L. Sandy Maisel, and Walter J. Stone. “The Sense of a Woman: Gender, Ambition, and the Decision to Run for Congress.” Political Research Quarterly 59.2 (2006): 235–248.

    DOI: 10.1177/106591290605900206Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors used the Candidate Emergence Study to examine direct and indirect gender effects on the ambition of state legislators to run for Congress. Argues that women are more strategic than men.

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  • Lawless, Jennifer L., and Richard L. Fox. It Still Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don’t Run for Office. Rev. ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511778797Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book used the Citizen Political Ambition Panel Study and eligibility approach to investigate ambition and women’s representation. Argues that women potential candidates do not aspire to candidacy and doubt their qualifications for office.

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  • Lien, Pei-te, and Katie Swain. “Local Executive Leaders: At the Intersection of Race and Gender.” In Women & Executive Office: Pathways and Performance. Edited by Melody Rose, 137–156. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2013.

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    Draws on the Gender and Multicultural Leadership (GMCL) project to examine women of color mayors. Challenges the assumption that the office of mayor is a stepping-stone to higher office.

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  • Mariani, Mack D. “A Gendered Pipeline? The Advancement of State Legislators to Congress in Five States.” Politics & Gender 4.2 (2008): 285–308.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1743923X08000196Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines state legislative entry for congressional races. Argues that men state legislators were more likely to possess the characteristics associated with a congressional career.

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Women of Color in Elections

Scholarship on the influence and experience of women of color in elections is limited, with research focusing more on participation and evaluations of representation by women of color. Some studies, such as McClain, et al. 2005 (cited under Women’s Election to Executive Office), examine individual case studies of women of color candidates for office. Other studies, such as Sampaio 2014 and Smooth 2014, provide overviews of specific groups of women of color and electoral politics, outlining trends in electoral participation, candidacy, and success. Consistent with Fraga, et al. 2007, they detail patterns of increasing electoral success among Latinas and African American women distinct from men in their shared identity groups. Bejarano 2013 offers a book-length investigation into this trend, combatting previous claims that Latinas are doubly disadvantaged by race and gender and demonstrating the sources of a Latina electoral advantage. Philpot and Walton 2007 similarly concludes that black women candidates earn a race-based advantage among black women voters. Stokes-Brown and Dolan 2010 corroborates this advantage, illuminating mutually beneficial effects of black women’s candidacies on mobilizing black women voters. Each work cited in this section adopts an intersectional approach to gender, race, and political campaigns. Similar approaches are evident in Gershon 2012 (cited under Media), Junn 2009 (cited under Women’s Election to Executive Office), and Trounstine and Valdini 2008 (cited under Women’s Election to Local Office).

  • Bejarano, Christina E. The Latina Advantage: Gender, Race, and Political Success. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2013.

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    Challenges conventional wisdom that minority women candidates are doubly disadvantaged by race and gender, arguing instead that Latinas are advantaged in comparison to Latino counterparts. Uses attitudinal data and examines state-level factors and cases to present a multifaceted explanation for Latinas representational advancement in the face of persistent barriers.

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  • Fraga, Luis Ricardo, Linda Lopez, Valerie Martinez-Ebers, and Ricardo Ramirez. “Gender and Ethnicity: Patterns of Electoral Success and Legislative Advocacy among Latina and Latino State Officials in Four States.” Journal of Women, Politics, and Policy 28 (2007): 121–145.

    DOI: 10.1300/J501v28n03_06Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines patterns of electoral success among Latina and Latino state legislators in four states, finding differences between pace of representational progress by race and ethnicity. Demonstrates steady increases in Latina representation, even where women’s representation is flat or decreasing.

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  • Hardy-Fanta, Carol. Latina Politics Latino Politics: Gender, Culture, and Political Participation in Boston. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993.

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    Hardy-Fanta shows that Latinas are politically active, including as candidates—contrary to the conventional wisdom. Identified important gender differences in how and why Latinos participate politically; for Latinas, politics is interpersonal rather than hierarchical.

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  • Philpot, Tasha S., and Hanes Walton. “One of Our Own: Black Female Candidates and the Voters Who Support Them.” American Journal of Political Science 51 (2007): 49–62.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2007.00236.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses congressional election data to demonstrate how gender and race interact in candidate evaluations. Challenges claims that black female candidates are doubly disadvantaged, finding instead that race provides them more electoral benefits than gender, especially among black women voters.

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  • Sampaio, Anna. “Latinas and Electoral Politics: Expanding Participation and Power in State and National Elections.” In Gender and Elections: Shaping the Future of American Politics. Edited by Susan J. Carroll and Richard L. Fox, 146–166. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

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    Book chapter that examines the increasing influence of Latinas in electoral politics. Evaluates emergence of a Latina/o gender gap, Latinas presence in campaigns, and their success as candidates in the 2012 election.

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  • Smooth, Wendy G. “African American Women and Electoral Politics: Translating Voting Power into Officeholding.” In Gender and Elections: Shaping the Future of American Politics. Edited by Susan J. Carroll and Richard L. Fox, 167–189. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

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    Book chapter that examines African American women’s increasing influence as voters and electoral success across levels of office. Describes the “paradox of participation” among African American women, whereby levels of representation and participation exceed expectations based on traditional indicators.

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  • Stokes-Brown, Atiya, and Kathleen Dolan. “Race, Gender, and Symbolic Representation: African American Female Candidates as Mobilizing Agents.” Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 20.4 (2010): 473–494.

    DOI: 10.1080/17457289.2010.511806Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds black female congressional candidates increased black women’s likelihood of proselytizing and voting, and increased all women’s nonmonetary forms of political participation. Demonstrates the symbolic impact of shared race and gender identities between candidates and citizens.

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Stereotypes

One enduring debate in the study of women’s candidacies concerns gender stereotypes. Scholars have examined stereotypes about personality traits, issue positions, and issue competency and sought to determine the nature of these stereotypes and their consequences. The works cited in this section provide a sample of the central questions and methodological approaches in this area. For example, Huddy and Terkildsen 1993 uses an experiment to examine the nature of longstanding gender stereotypes about issue competency. Building on their analysis, Sanbonmatsu 2002 connects issue competency and other stereotypes to voters’ preferences about representation by men or women in politics. Koch 2000 shows that gender stereotypes about ideology can have negative consequences for women candidates, though the effects differ by party. Some research seeks to situate stereotypes within a given issue context, such as Lawless 2004. Other research seeks to understand how gender stereotypes intersect with other categories, including Doan and Haider-Markel 2010 and Holman, et al. 2011. It is important to note that candidates have agency through their campaigns: experiments such as that reported in Schneider 2014 can be used to evaluate the success of various stereotype strategies. Debate continues about whether and when stereotypes matter. Dolan 2014 (cited under Elections) finds that stereotypes play a minimal role compared with other determinants of the vote, such as partisan identification. And Brooks 2013 shows that stereotypes are less consequential than is commonly believed.

  • Brooks, Deborah J. He Runs, She Runs: Why Gender Stereotypes Do Not Harm Women Candidates. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013.

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    Author used online experiments to determine if voter stereotypes remain consequential. Similar treatment of women and men hypothetical candidates—even in situations thought to disadvantage women—indicates current voter receptivity to women candidates.

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  • Doan, Alesha E., and Donald P. Haider-Markel. “The Role of Intersectional Stereotypes on Evaluations of Gay and Lesbian Political Candidates.” Politics & Gender 6.1 (2010): 63–91.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1743923X09990511Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyzes stereotypes as they apply to gay and lesbian political candidates. Evaluates voter response to candidates and conditions under which particular stereotypes are consequential.

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  • Holman, Mirya R., Jennifer L. Merolla, and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister. “Sex, Stereotypes, and Security: A Study of the Effects of Terrorist Threat on Assessments of Female Leadership.” Journal of Women Politics & Policy 32.3 (2011): 173–192.

    DOI: 10.1080/1554477X.2011.589283Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the context of terrorism, arguing that gender and party stereotypes intersect in the national security area.

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  • Huddy, Leonie, and Nayda Terkildsen. “Gender Stereotypes and the Perception of Male and Female Candidates.” American Journal of Political Science 37.1 (1993): 119–147.

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    The authors used an experiment to manipulate gender and gender-linked personality traits. They found more support for the trait rather than the belief hypothesis to explain issue competency stereotypes.

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  • Koch, Jeffrey W. “Do Citizens Apply Gender Stereotypes to Infer Candidates’ Ideological Orientations?” Journal of Politics 62.2 (2000): 414–429.

    DOI: 10.1111/0022-3816.00019Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Investigates gender stereotypes about candidate ideology, finding evidence of voters’ misperceptions. Voters perceive women as more liberal than they actually are, with different consequences for women by party.

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  • Lawless, Jennifer L. “Women, War, and Winning Elections: Gender Stereotyping in] the Post-September 11th Era.” Political Research Quarterly 57.3 (2004): 479–490.

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    Considers how the post-9/11 context affected women’s candidacies and argues for the importance of the issue environment in understanding gender stereotypes.

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  • Sanbonmatsu, Kira. “Gender Stereotypes and Vote Choice.” American Journal of Political Science 46.1 (2002): 20–44.

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    Establishes the concept of voters’ “baseline gender preference”—a preference to vote for male over female candidates or female over male candidates—that can be explained by voters’ gender stereotypes. Argues that stereotypes can be consequential for voting behavior.

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  • Schneider, Monica. “The Effects of Gender-Bending on Candidate Evaluations.” Journal of Women, Politics and Policy 35.1 (2014): 55–77.

    DOI: 10.1080/1554477X.2014.863697Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Novel experiment that evaluated the effects of campaign strategies by candidate gender. Among the findings are that men are more successful in bending gender.

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Campaigns

Scholarship on women’s political candidacies has investigated gender differences in campaign strategy and campaign experiences. Major topics include the influence of institutional gender norms in candidate presentation and campaign tactics and the potential hurdles to electoral success posed by media and money. Findings on gender differences vary among and between topics due to the importance of contextual factors in political campaigns.

Strategy

Kirkpatrick 1974, Mandel 1981, and Carroll 1985 (all cited under Foundational Works), ask how women could and did navigate the masculine political institution of political campaigns as candidates for elective office. Witt, et al. 1994 offers some answers in chronicling women’s candidacies. Much of the scholarship on gender and campaign strategy, however, has focused more specifically on analyses of gender differences in style, issues, and tone in campaign output, most commonly in television advertisements or campaign websites. Seminal work includes Kahn 1996 and Bystrom, et al. 2004, which combine content analyses of campaign output with examination of the interference of media in candidate presentation. Works such as Fridkin and Kenney 2014 and Dolan 2014 (cited under Elections) have adopted similar approaches to determining whether gender stereotypes shape candidate communications. Other studies offer alternative approaches to analyzing campaign strategy, asking campaign practitioners directly about the influence of gender in their decision making. Fox 1997 provides one of the first studies of this kind, joined by Dittmar 2015. Panagopolous, et al. 2011 launches a new line of research into gender disparities among these practitioners, recognizing their growing influence on campaign strategy.

  • Bystrom, Dianne, Terry Robertson, Mary Christine Banwart, and Lynda Lee Kaid. Gender and Candidate Communication: VideoStyle, WebStyle, and NewStyle. New York: Routledge, 2004.

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    Comprehensive analysis of gender differences in candidate self-presentation and news coverage of male and female candidates. Finds variation in types and extent of gender differences in content and style within and among mediums. Provides replicable frameworks for content analyses of gender and campaign advertisements, websites, and news.

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  • Dittmar, Kelly. Navigating Gendered Terrain: Stereotypes and Strategy in Political Campaigns. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2015.

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    Argues that campaigns are gendered institutions in which candidates negotiate stereotypes of gender and candidacy. Draws on a national survey of political consultants and interviews with candidates and campaign practitioners to analyze the ways in which gender informs campaign strategy.

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  • Fox, Richard L. Gender Dynamics in Congressional Elections. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 1997.

    DOI: 10.4135/9781483327839Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book investigates the ways in which gender influences campaign style and strategy, drawing upon interviews with campaign managers and content analyses of campaign output. Argues differences in men and women’s campaign experiences are subtle but pervasive, and women’s entry into electoral arena alters men’s behavior.

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  • Fridkin, Kim L., and Patrick J. Kenney. The Changing Face of Representation: The Gender of U.S. Senators and Constituent Communications. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2014.

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    Analyzes US senators’ representational and campaign messages, media coverage of members, and citizens’ attitudes about their senators. Finds gender differences in campaign themes and media coverage, but no significance of gender as a cue for citizens’ impressions of senators running for reelection.

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  • Kahn, Kim Fridkin. The Political Consequences of Being a Woman. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.

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    Seminal study of the impact of sex stereotypes on campaign strategies, media coverage, and voter evaluations of men and women candidates for statewide office. Combines content analyses with experimental data to demonstrate the electoral consequences of how candidates negotiate and media adheres to sex stereotypes.

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  • Panagopolous, Costas, David A. Dulio, and Sarah E. Brewer. “Lady Luck? Women Political Consultants in U.S. Congressional Campaigns.” Journal of Political Marketing 10 (2011): 251–274.

    DOI: 10.1080/15377857.2011.588103Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Highlights the underrepresentation of women among political consultants. Finds that women’s presence is greater on professional teams for Democratic and female candidates.

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  • Witt, Linda, Karen M. Paget, and Glenna Matthews. Running as a Woman: Gender and Power in American Politics. New York: Free Press, 1994.

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    Provides a detailed history and analysis of women’s candidacies in 1992. Builds upon foundational works on women candidates to outline complications with, opportunities of, and approaches to “running as a woman” candidate.

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Money

Surveys such as those found in Carroll and Sanbonmatsu 2013 (cited under Structural Factors and Pathways to Office) and Lawless and Fox 2010 (cited under Political Ambition) have identified fundraising as a perceived hurdle to officeholding among women. However, scholarship investigating campaign receipts and campaign spending finds no significant gender disparities among similarly situated candidates. Burrell 2014 (cited under Elections) provides the latest update of these findings at the congressional level, and Hogan 2007 finds no financial disadvantage to women running for state legislature. Herrick 1996 and Crespin and Deitz 2010 temper these conclusions in arguing that the work toward and effects of equitable campaign funds differ by candidate gender to the disadvantage of women. Werner and Mayer 2007 investigates public financing as a potential solution to this gender disadvantage. Few studies have examined gender and political action committees (PACs), but Francia 2001 and Burrell 2014 (cited under Elections) find that women’s PACs have positively benefited female candidates.

Media

Research on gender and media in elections has focused primarily on gender differences in coverage amounts, tone or frames, and impact of biased coverage on voter support or evaluation. Findings on gender differences in coverage frequency or tone have been mixed over time and vary by type and level of office, but gender bias against women candidates is found in most investigations, with Hayes and Lawless 2015 as a recent exception. Contributions to Norris 1997 and seminal work in Kahn 1996 (cited under Strategy), and Bystrom, et al. 2004 (cited under Strategy) all find gender differences in quantity and quality of coverage in statewide and congressional races. Devitt 2002 finds more personal than issue frames applied to women running for governor. Fowler and Lawless 2009 discovers less direct, but persistent differences in coverage of female gubernatorial candidates. Studies rely heavily on content analyses to identify coverage differences, but the authors of Kahn 1996 (cited under Strategy) and Gershon 2012 use experiments to demonstrate effects of biased coverage on voter evaluation. Much scholarship on media bias has occurred at the presidential level, where candidates receive the most media attention. Heldman, et al. 2005; Lawrence and Rose 2009; and Falk 2010 provide useful case studies of media hurdles for women presidential candidates. Few studies have applied an intersectional frame to media coverage, with Gershon 2012 leading the way to identify within-group differences in coverage frequency, tone, and effects. Devitt 2002 and Norris 1997 contribute valuable analyses of journalist gender as influential to behavior and bias.

  • Devitt, James. “Framing Gender on the Campaign Trail: Female Gubernatorial Candidates and the Press.” Journalism and Mass Communication Studies Quarterly 79 (2002): 445–463.

    DOI: 10.1177/107769900207900212Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds more frequent newspaper coverage of female than male candidates for governor in personal over issue frames, but no gender difference in coverage amount. Shows that gender bias is greater among male reporters.

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  • Falk, Erika. Women for President: Media Bias in Nine Campaigns. 2d ed. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010.

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    Case studies and media analyses of nine female presidential candidates and similarly situated male candidates in each election. Finds gender bias in each campaign, noting the persistence of bias over more than a century of campaigning. Argues the most negative impact of media bias is discouraging women from running.

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  • Fowler, Linda L., and Jennifer L. Lawless. “Looking for Sex in All the Wrong Places: Press Coverage and the Electoral Fortunes of Gubernatorial Candidates.” Perspectives on Politics 7.3 (2009): 519–536.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1537592709990843Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Integrates analysis of political context into research on gender and media content. Argues that indirect effects of gender are often masked when contextual variables are used as controls.

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  • Gershon, Sarah Allen. “Media Coverage of Minority Congresswomen and Voter Evaluations: Evidence from an Online Experimental Study.” Political Research Quarterly 66 (2012): 702–714.

    DOI: 10.1177/1065912912467851Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Demonstrates the importance of evaluating within-group variance in media coverage frequency, tone, and effects. Combines content analyses with experimental tests to find media bias toward Latina congresswomen yields disadvantages in voter support and evaluation.

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  • Hayes, Danny, and Jennifer Lawless. “A Non-gendered Lens? Media, Voters, and Female Candidates in Contemporary Congressional Elections.” Perspectives on Politics 13 (2015): 95–118.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1537592714003156Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Challenges prevailing wisdom of gender bias in media coverage of female candidates. Finds no significant gender differences in the volume of coverage, number of references to their sex, or the traits and issues with which male and female US House candidates are associated.

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  • Heldman, Caroline, Susan J. Carroll, and Stephanie Olson. “‘She Brought Only a Skirt’: Print Media Coverage of Elizabeth Dole’s Bid for the Republican Presidential Nomination.” Political Communication 22.3 (2005): 315–335.

    DOI: 10.1080/10584600591006564Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds that Elizabeth Dole received less coverage and less attention than her male opponents for president. Identifies dominant frames of Dole coverage, including personality, appearance, viability, and negativity, arguing each likely hindered her candidacy.

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  • Lawrence, Regina, and Melody Rose. Hillary Clinton’s Race for the White House: Gender Politics and the Media on the Campaign Trail. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2009.

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    Comprehensive investigation of media coverage and campaign strategy of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid in 2008. Examines if and how gender biases and dynamics in coverage contributed to Clinton’s defeat, alongside modern media norms and distinctness of the political context and candidate.

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  • Norris, Pippa, ed. Women, Media, and Politics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

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    Edited volume focused on women’s media presence, strategies, and coverage as candidates and journalists. Essays demonstrate where gender differences persist and to what effect.

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Women’s Election to Executive Office

Exploring the distinct hurdles to executive office is an objective of much of the scholarship in this section. Institutional expectations of masculinity in executive leadership are outlined in Duerst-Lahti 1997 and found in Fox and Oxley 2003. Windett 2011 and Sheeler and Anderson 2013 evaluate cultural influences on women’s routes to executive leadership at the statewide and national levels, respectively. While Rose 2012 provides a comprehensive collection of research on women’s pathways to executive office at the local, state, and national levels, the bulk of work on women and executive office has focused on women’s presidential candidacies. Freeman 2008 offers a foundational chapter on the history of women who have run for president in the United States. Falk 2010; Heldman, et al. 2005; and Lawrence and Rose 2009 (all cited under Media) focus on gendered media coverage of women’s races. McClain, et al. 2005 focuses on the intersection of race and gender in two women’s campaigns for the presidency and speak to the need outlined in Junn 2009 to make room for women of color in the scholarship on and the discourse of presidential politics.

  • Duerst-Lahti, Georgia. “Executive Power and the Consequences of Masculinism.” In The Other Elites: Women, Politics, and Power in the Executive Branch. Edited by Mary Anne Borrelli and Janet M. Martin, 11–32. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1997.

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    Theoretical analysis of gender norms of executive power. Presents important concepts of masculinism and transgendering of executive political institutions to frame future research.

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  • Fox, Richard, and Zoe Oxley. “Gender Stereotyping in State Executive Elections: Candidate Selection and Success.” Journal of Politics 65.3 (2003): 833–850.

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    Demonstrates that association of state executive offices with masculine stereotypes affects candidate selection more than candidate success. Finds women are no less likely to win but are less likely to run for offices associated most with masculine stereotypes.

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  • Freeman, Jo. We Will Be Heard: Women’s Struggles for Political Power in the United States. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2008.

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    Foundational book that includes the most comprehensive history of female candidates for US president. Provides detail, context, and timeline of women’s candidacies through 2008.

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  • Junn, Jane. “Making Room for Women of Color: Race and Gender Categories in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election.” Politics & Gender 5 (2009): 105–110.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1743923X09000087Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Essay applies intersectional lens to 2008 presidential election. Argues campaign disrupted the default category of a white male president, but it reinforced association of women with whiteness and race with blackness, constraining women of color as candidates and voters.

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  • McClain, Paula D., Niambi M. Carter, and Michael C. Brady. “Gender and Black Presidential Politics: From Chisholm to Moseley Braun.” Journal of Women, Politics, and Policy 27.1–2 (2005): 51–68.

    DOI: 10.1300/J501v27n01_04Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Compares candidacies of two major party black women candidates for US president, highlighting sites of progress and persistent hurdles in race and gender dynamics.

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  • Rose, Melody, ed. Women and Executive Office: Pathways and Performance. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2012.

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    Unique and comprehensive edited volume on women in executive offices at the local, state, and national levels. Includes analyses of women’s decisions to run, candidacies, media coverage, and policy priorities at the executive level. Offers an agenda for further research on executive women.

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  • Sheeler, Kristina Horn, and Karrin Vasy Anderson. Woman President: Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture. College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2013.

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    Extensive feminist analysis of the gender performance of presidentiality in women’s campaigns. Offers a complex feminist frame by which to evaluate rhetoric by and about women candidates for president in real cases, fictional portrayals and parody, and media coverage.

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  • Windett, Jason Harold. “State Effects and the Emergence and Success of Female Gubernatorial Candidates.” State Politics and Policy Quarterly 11.4 (2011): 460–482.

    DOI: 10.1177/1532440011408930Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Identifies the relationship between female sociopolitical culture and women’s primary and general election success in gubernatorial races. Demonstrates that environmental factors such as women’s political representation, state culture, and women’s social progress influence electoral outcomes.

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Women’s Election to Local Office

Much scholarship on women’s election to office is focused at the state or federal legislative levels. The variance in methods of election, office types, and accessible information across local offices poses complications to researchers seeking to understand gender differences and dynamics at this level. However, as the works cited in this section reveal, gender dynamics are not the same across these distinct political contexts. Some works, such as Adams and Schreiber 2011, demonstrate shared realities with women running for higher-level office. Other scholarship evidences how gender functions differently at the local level. Deckman 2007 contrasts findings of gender differences in candidate motivation to show similarities in the reasons why men and women run for school board. Like Lien and Swain 2013 (cited under Political Ambition), it also challenges assumptions that local office is a first step to higher office. Atkeson and Krebs 2008 finds gender effects on press coverage but no gender bias in coverage amount or type. Cognizant of the distinct contexts of local elections, Smith, et al. 2012 collects and analyzes data at the mayoral and council levels to identify conditions conducive to women’s election. Trounstine and Valdini 2008 delves more deeply into the structural conditions most conducive to electing minority women to city councils, highlighting the importance of intersectional analyses of electoral effects.

  • Adams, Brian E., and Ronnee Schreiber. “Gender, Campaign Finance, and Electoral Success in Municipal Elections.” Journal of Urban Affairs 33.1 (2011): 83–97.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9906.2010.00508.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses municipal-level data to reinforce findings from higher-level offices that women candidates are not disadvantaged in fundraising or electoral success. Confirms that women’s underrepresentation at the municipal level is fueled by a dearth of women candidates.

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  • Atkeson, Lonna Rae, and Timothy B. Krebs. “Press Coverage of Mayoral Candidates: The Role of Gender in News Reporting and Campaign Issue Speech.” Political Research Quarterly 61 (2008): 239–252.

    DOI: 10.1177/1065912907308098Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds no significant gender differences in amount or type of press coverage of mayoral candidates, but presence of women candidates increases nonpolicy and personality coverage overall and raises the saliency of women’s and compassion issues in coverage. Indicates potential office-level differences in gender dynamics of press coverage.

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  • Deckman, Melissa. “Gender Differences in the Decision to Run for School Board.” American Politics Research 35.4 (2007): 541–563.

    DOI: 10.1177/1532673X07299196Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines motivating factors in members’ decisions to run for school board. Finds few gender differences and minimal evidence of progressive political ambition among male and female board members, raising doubts about school board posts as a step to higher elected office.

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  • Smith, Adrienne R., Beth Reingold, and Michael Leo Owens. “The Political Determinants of Women’s Descriptive Representation in Cities.” Political Research Quarterly 65.2 (2012): 315–329.

    DOI: 10.1177/1065912910395327Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Provides and uses rarely collected data on descriptive representation of women in municipal government to outline conditions conducive to electoral success, including the interdependence between electing women to both offices.

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  • Trounstine, Jessica, and Melody E. Valdini. “The Context Matters: The Effects of Single-Member versus At-Large Districts on City Council Diversity.” American Journal of Political Science 52.3 (2008): 554–569.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2008.00329.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines structural predictors of success for minority candidates for city councils. Demonstrates importance of intersectional analysis in finding that positive benefits of smaller, single-member district systems apply only to minority men, not women.

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Women’s Political Participation

Studies of women’s participation have grappled with the supposed distinction between private and public spheres. Scholars have sought to understand how women’s association with the private sphere and the family has shaped beliefs about the nature of the public sphere and the appropriateness of women’s involvement in politics. Contemporary scholarship is mainly concerned with whether gender differences exist, whether differences have changed, and whether context matters. An important theme in this area concerns the utility and adequacy of traditional participation models and measures for understanding women’s political activities. Whether attention to inequality and diversity among women disrupts or changes conventional understandings of the relationship between gender and participation is also a major theme.

Intersectional Challenges to the Study of Participation

Research about the participation of women of color often defines politics more broadly than it is conventionally defined. Scholars have also argued for intersectional approaches to the study of women and gender, emphasized community activism and social change, and argued against treating women as a monolithic group. The creation of alternative frameworks, concepts, and theories has often accompanied work in this area, including the findings in Cohen, et al. 1997. Works such as Gay and Tate 1998 help to establish how race and gender identities are consequential for public opinion and participation. The significance of women of color candidates for voters is analyzed in Philpot and Walton 2007 and Stokes-Brown and Dolan 2010 (cited under Women of Color in Elections). The normative, as well as methodological, concerns and challenges facing gender and politics scholars by addressing intersectionality are addressed in Smooth 2006 and Junn and Brown 2008.

  • Cohen, Cathy J., Kathleen B. Jones, and Joan C. Tronto, eds. Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader. New York: New York University Press, 1997.

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    Pathbreaking edited volume featuring critiques, analysis, and new perspectives about women in politics through intersectional approaches and research on women of color. Argues for a broader conceptualization of politics and increased attention to structural barriers and social change.

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  • Gay, Claudine, and Katherine Tate. “Doubly Bound: The Impact of Gender and Race on the Politics of Black Women.” Political Psychology 19.1 (1998): 169–184.

    DOI: 10.1111/0162-895X.00098Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Considers the role of race and gender identities on the politics of African American women. Finds that gender identity can compete with racial loyalty in some cases, although race is primary.

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  • Junn, Jane, and Nadia Brown. “What Revolution? Incorporating Intersectionality in Women and Politics.” In Political Women and American Democracy. Edited by Christina Wolbrecht, Karen Beckwith, and Lisa Baldez, 64–78. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511790621Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Book chapter in which the authors provide a background on intersectional research and argue against a dummy variable approach to the analysis of race and gender categories.

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  • Smooth, Wendy S. “Intersectionality in Electoral Politics: A Mess Worth Making.” Politics & Gender 2.3 (2006): 400–414.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1743923X06261087Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Essay that articulated the promise and challenges of research that addresses both gender and race. Argues that the gender gap is not normatively positive when considered from the standpoint of African American voting rights and turnout.

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Political Participation

The concepts of gender roles, gender socialization, and the gendered division of labor have helped scholars in works such as Welch 1977; Sapiro 1983; and Burns, et al. 2001 to build theories about gender differences in participation. Some researchers have sought in their work to understand whether and how women’s experiences with sex discrimination and orientations toward the modern women’s movement affect women’s participation, such as Sigel 1996; others investigate the effects of women candidates on women voters, such as Atkeson 2003, Lawless 2004, and Dolan 2006. Burns 2002 identifies the challenges of studying gender in a discipline focused on individuals. Meanwhile, works such as Bookman and Morgen 1988 have made class and race more central to the analysis.

  • Atkeson, Lonna Rae. “Not All Cues Are Created Equal: The Conditional Impact of Female Candidates on Political Engagement.” Journal of Politics 65.4 (2003): 1040–1061.

    DOI: 10.1111/1468-2508.t01-1-00124Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Example of the debate about whether women candidates can increase women’s political engagement. Finds that the effect depended on visible and competitive women candidates.

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  • Bookman, Ann, and Sandra Morgen, eds. Women and the Politics of Empowerment. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988.

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    Edited volume that examines women’s community activism in the 1970s and the experiences of working class women and race/ethnic differences.

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  • Burns, Nancy. “Gender: Public Opinion and Political Action.” In Political Science: State of the Discipline. Edited by Ira Katznelson and Helen V. Milner, 462–487. New York: Norton, 2002.

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    Review essay primarily focused on gender in public opinion and behavior. Identifies the tensions inherent in studying gender as a category in a discipline that values individual-level analysis and data.

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  • Burns, Nancy, Kay Lehman Schlozman, and Sidney Verba. The Private Roots of Public Action: Gender, Equality, and Political Participation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.

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    Landmark book that traces the relationship of gender and participation through the life cycle and various sites, including the home, school, workplace, religious institutions, and voluntary organizations. A well-known work for its analysis of the psychological effects of women candidates and officeholders on women’s political engagement.

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  • Dolan, Kathleen. “Symbolic Mobilization? The Impact of Candidate Sex in American Elections.” American Politics Research 34.6 (2006): 687–704.

    DOI: 10.1177/1532673X06289155Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds inconsistent evidence of a symbolic effect whereby women candidates disproportionately mobilize women in elections. Some evidence suggests that women candidates increase participation for both women and men.

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  • Lawless, Jennifer. “Politics of Presence? Congresswomen and Symbolic Representation.” Political Research Quarterly 57.1 (2004): 81–99.

    DOI: 10.1177/106591290405700107Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the effects of women in Congress on their constituents from 1980 to 1998 and finds that party congruence is more important than gender congruence. Suggests that symbolic representation may not be dyadic.

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  • Sapiro, Virginia. The Political Integration of Women: Roles, Socialization, and Politics. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983.

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    Demonstrates the connections between women’s private and public roles using a socialization perspective and argues for integration of public and private spheres.

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  • Sigel, Roberta S. Ambition and Accommodation: How Women View Gender Relations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

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    Classic treatment of women’s reaction to the modern women’s movement in the 1980s based on a study of New Jersey. Carefully investigated the relationship between perceptions of gender discrimination and women’s political behavior.

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  • Welch, Susan. “Women as Political Animals? A Test of Some Explanations for Male-Female Political Participation Differences.” American Journal of Political Science 21 (1977): 711–730.

    DOI: 10.2307/2110733Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Article that examines the effects of socialization, family responsibilities, and structural factors on the gender gap in political participation. Finds that women and men participate at similar levels once situational and structural factors are taken into account.

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Political Knowledge

Studies often note that men are more knowledgeable about politics than women, including Delli Carpini and Keeter 1996. Researchers have challenged the notion that women are disadvantaged with respect to knowledge in a variety of ways. Mondak and Anderson 2004 argues that the gap is partly a function of measurement error because men are more likely to offer a guess on knowledge items. And Dolan 2011 shows that gender differences depend on whether knowledge is gender-relevant.

Gender Gap

Research on the gender gap often connects gender differences in attitudes with partisanship and voting behavior, although these studies are separated into two main areas here. Gender gap studies often take a cross-sectional approach but some have examined gender gap dynamics. Several main, competing theories have been tested but much debate about the gender gap remains. The works here were selected for their impact on and for their display of the breadth of this research.

Public Opinion

An important aspect of gender gap research addresses public opinion. Shapiro and Mahajan 1986 is one of the foundational studies that identified the main areas of gender differences in public opinion. These attitudinal differences are also considered in the edited volume Mueller 1988, which includes contributions by researchers who analyzed gender gap politics and offered theoretical accounts of the gap, including an influential theory by Susan J. Carroll. The hypothesis about feminism as an explanation for the gap is examined in Conover and Sapiro 1993. Meanwhile, Huddy, et al. 2008 brings the state of knowledge about the gender gap up to date and assesses competing explanations. Some researchers have examined differences among women by race/ethnicity. Most recently, the author of Bejarano 2014 examines Latino gender differences in several aspects of public opinion, including ideology and partisanship.

  • Bejarano, Christina. The Latino Gender Gap in U.S. Politics. New York: Routledge, 2014.

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    Provides a new perspective on the gender gap by examining Latinos and the intersection of gender with factors such as migration and generation. Highlights the importance of ethnicity in gender studies and the gender dynamics that accompany immigration. Finds that Latinas have fewer transnational ties to their countries of origin.

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  • Conover, Pamela Johnston, and Virginia Sapiro. “Gender, Feminist Consciousness, and War.” American Journal of Political Science 37.4 (1993): 1079–1099.

    DOI: 10.2307/2111544Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines hypotheses about how gender, maternalism, and feminism affect opposition to war. One of the key findings is that maternalism does not account for the gap.

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  • Huddy, Leonie, Erin Cassese, and Mary-Kate Lizotte. “Gender, Public Opinion, and Political Reasoning.” In Political Women and American Democracy. Edited by Christina Wolbrecht, Karen Beckwith, and Lisa Baldez, 31–49. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511790621Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this review, the authors succinctly evaluated the state of knowledge about the gender gap, including attention to the role of personality as an explanation for gender differences in public opinion. Argues that different types of gender gaps seem to have different origins.

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  • Mueller, Carol, ed. The Politics of the Gender Gap: The Social Construction of Political Influence. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE, 1988.

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    This landmark edited volume remains valuable. The contributors examine theories and origins of the gender gap; considers the collective influence women can wield through the gender gap.

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  • Shapiro, Robert Y., and Harpreet Mahajan. “Gender Differences in Policy Preferences: A Summary of Trends from the 1960s to the 1980s.” Public Opinion Quarterly 50.1 (1986): 42–61.

    DOI: 10.1086/268958Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Drawing on national surveys, the authors in this foundational article identified areas of gender differences in attitudes. Among other findings, the authors noted the persistence of differences on use of force and violence and greater support for protecting traditional values among women.

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Partisanship and Voting Behavior

The gender gap in partisanship has been the subject of its own analysis although more research concerns the gender gap in public opinion. To a large extent, the gender gap in voting behavior can be explained by the gender gap in partisanship, as Kaufmann and Petrocik 1999 shows. Box-Steffensmeier, et al. 2004 is one of the few studies that examines the changing magnitude of the gender gap in partisan identification over time as the dependent variable. Although most research focuses on the gap in support for the major parties, Norrander 1997 analyzes the gender gap among independents. Various aspects of the gender gap are investigated in Whitaker 2008, an edited volume. One of the interesting aspects of the gender gap is its relationship with parental and marital status, which is explored in Elder and Greene 2012. As Greenlee 2014 also shows, motherhood is consequential for political attitudes and behavior. Seltzer, et al. 1997 considers the accuracy of common beliefs about the gender gap.

  • Box-Steffensmeier, Janet M., Suzanna DeBoef, and Tse-Min Lin. “The Dynamics of the Partisan Gender Gap.” American Political Science Review 98.3 (2004): 515–528.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1537592711002349Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    One of the few studies that examines the determinants of changes in the magnitude of the gender gap. Offers aggregate rather than individual-level analysis and connects economic, societal, and political changes to gender gap dynamics.

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  • Elder, Laurel, and Steven Greene. The Politics of Parenthood: Causes and Consequences of the Politicization and Polarization of the American Family. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2012.

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    Investigates gender, race, parenthood, and marital status in contemporary elections. Among the central findings is that parenthood affects men and women differently.

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  • Greenlee, Jill S. The Political Consequences of Motherhood. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2014.

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    Demonstrates that motherhood is frequently invoked in presidential campaigns. Motherhood matters to public opinion although effects depend on marital status and political context. Includes panel analysis of the effects of motherhood on political attitudes.

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  • Kaufmann, Karen, and John Petrocik. “The Changing Politics of American Men: Understanding the Sources of the Gender Gap.” American Journal of Political Science 43.3 (1999): 864–887.

    DOI: 10.2307/2991838Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the relationship between partisanship and voting behavior. Argues for social welfare attitudes as a main source of the gender gap.

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  • Norrander, Barbara. “The Independence Gap and the Gender Gap.” Public Opinion Quarterly 61.3 (1997): 464–476.

    DOI: 10.1086/297809Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Offers an important perspective on the gender gap by focusing on independents. Investigated the reasons for the gap in which women are less likely to identify as independents.

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  • Seltzer, Richard A., Jody Newman, and Melissa Voorhees Leighton. Sex as a Political Variable: Women as Candidates and Voters in U.S. Elections. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1997.

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    Challenges ten “myths” about women in politics, including the competitiveness of women candidates and the nature of the gender gap. Among other findings, it disputes the idea that the gender gap is about abortion and women’s rights.

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  • Whitaker, Lois Duke, ed. Voting the Gender Gap. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008.

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    Multiple aspects of the gender gap are examined, including polling, national and subnational elections, media coverage, race, and parenthood.

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Women Voters and Women Candidates

A natural question for researchers is whether women are more likely to vote for women candidates. This line of inquiry is attentive to the underlying mechanisms of any “gender-affinity” effect and to the role that party plays in addition to gender. The so-called Year of the Woman election in 1992, in which a record number of women ran for office, provided a rich opportunity to test this hypothesis. Paolino 1995 and Plutzer and Zipp 1996 are good examples of these studies about the 1992 election. Brians 2005 and Dolan 2008 focus on a longer period of time.

  • Brians, Craig L. “Women for Women? Gender and Party Bias in Voting for Female Candidates.” American Politics Research 33.3 (2005): 357–375.

    DOI: 10.1177/1532673X04269415Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the propensity of women to support women candidates regardless of party, finding that Democratic women candidates can enhance the Democratic Party’s appeal to women voters.

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  • Dolan, Kathleen. “Is There a ‘Gender Affinity Effect’ in American Politics? Information, Affect, and Candidate Sex in U.S. House Elections.” Political Research Quarterly 61.1 (2008): 79–89.

    DOI: 10.1177/1065912907307518Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyzes US House of Representatives contests from 1990 and 2000, finding that women evaluated Democratic women candidates favorably due to both party and gender. However, affect worked similarly for women and men voters, meaning that the gender gap in affect does not necessarily advantage women candidates.

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  • Paolino, Phillip. “Group-Salient Issues and Group Representation: Support for Women Candidates in the 1992 Senate Elections.” American Journal of Political Science 39.2 (1995): 294–313.

    DOI: 10.2307/2111614Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the so-called Year of the Woman election of 1992 and found that women voted for women Senate candidates due to the neglect of gender-salient issues.

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  • Plutzer, Eric, and John F. Zipp. “Identity Politics, Partisanship, and Voting for Women Candidates.” Public Opinion Quarterly 60.1 (1996): 30–57.

    DOI: 10.1086/297738Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors analyze the relationship between candidate gender and the gender gap using exit polls. Found that gender identity can compete with party identity as a cue.

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