A High Bar or a Double Standard? Gender, Competence, and Information in Political Campaigns
This study seeks to determine whether subjects in two dynamic process tracing experiments react differently to information related to a candidate’s competence when that candidate is a woman, vs. when he is a man. I find that subjects evaluate a candidate whose competence is in doubt less favorably, and are less likely to vote for the candidate, when she is a woman. In general, evaluations of women seem to be influenced much more by information related to their competence than are evaluations of men. I also find that competence as portrayed by the composition of a candidate’s facial features does not alter this relationship. My findings suggest that gender-based stereotypes may have an indirect effect on candidate evaluations and vote choice by influencing how voters react to information about them.