Nichole M. Bauer, “Who stereotypes female candidates? Identifying individual differences in feminine stereotype reliance.” Politics, Groups, and Identities

Politics, Groups, and Identities

Volume 3, Issue 1, 2015


Increasing numbers of women are running for political office at the local, state, and national levels. Existing research offers unclear conclusions about whether feminine stereotypes are an electoral constraint for female candidates. An underlying assumption in this scholarship is that all types of individuals rely on similar processes to form electoral assessments of female candidates. This study tests the assumption of equitable stereotype reliance across individuals. I integrate theories from psychology about which types of individuals are most likely to use stereotypes to judge others, and consider how these determinants operate in a political context. I argue that whether an individual relies on feminine stereotypes to evaluate a female candidate depends on characteristics such as attention to politics, partisanship, and other relevant demographic characteristics. An original survey experiment identifies how individual characteristics affect whether a voter turns to feminine stereotypes when a woman runs for office. These findings are consequential because individuals who rely on feminine stereotypes are also less likely to vote for a female candidate.