Evaluating Competitive Women: Use of Stereotypes in Static and Dynamic Evaluations of Elections Between Two Female Candidates
AuthorSchmitt, Elizabeth JoAnn
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation articulates the need for a novel setting in which to study candidate evaluations, particularly in light of the influx of female candidates running in the past decade and in upcoming elections. I focus on voter comparisons of candidates; in particular, voter evaluations of an election that has two women running against each other. I draw upon a theoretical basis of stereotype use, stereotype activation, and low-information and heuristic decision making to develop a theory as to why we would expect voter evaluations of a two-female race to differ from a mixed-gender or all-male race. The extant literature has two gaps: how voter evaluations of elections change when they are asked to evaluate two competing candidates, rather than one candidate in isolation; the second gap is examining voter evaluations of an all-female race; specifically, the use of stereotypes to evaluate those female candidates. This dissertation employs several experiments to move the literature and theory forward, in addition to secondary data to improve external validity of my findings. My findings suggest that 1) elections between two women are evaluated with more reliance on stereotypes than elections that are between a man and a woman or all men, 2) women candidates are seen as less qualified to hold office when presenting themselves as feminine, 3) information on candidates does not ameliorate bias or the use of stereotypes 4) factors that influence the perceptions of candidate ideology vary greatly by party and body of Congress sought. Implications of these findings illustrate the continued examination of woman vs. woman races, and the hurdles female candidates will continue to face, particularly when they run against other women.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Government and Public Policy