Women, War, and Winning Elections: Gender Stereotyping in the Post-September 11th Era

TitleWomen, War, and Winning Elections: Gender Stereotyping in the Post-September 11th Era
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsLawless, Jennifer L.
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Date Published09/2004

Scores of political science studies reveal that female candidates fare as well as their male counterparts. But the percentage of citizens willing to support a woman presidential party nominee has significantly decreased over the last two years. Based on the results of a Knowledge Networks national random sample survey, this article offers the first empirical examination of the manner in which the atmosphere of war might affect women candidates' electoral prospects. I find that citizens prefer men's leadership traits and characteristics, deem men more competent at legislating around issues of national security and military crises, and contend that men are superior to women at addressing the new obstacles generated by the events of September 11, 2001. As a result of this gender stereotyping, levels of willingness to support a qualified woman presidential candidate are lower than they have been for decades. These findings carry broad implications for the study of women and politics. If women fare as well as men when the political climate is dominated by issues that play to women's stereotypical strengths, but are disadvantaged when "men's issues" dominate the political agenda, then we must reconsider the conclusion that winning elections has nothing to do with the sex of the candidate.

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