Not “With Her”: How Gendered Political Slogans Affect Conservative Women’s Perceptions of Female Leaders
Past research has indicated that women who work in male-dominated fields, such as politics, face discrimination due to a stereotypically perceived poor fit between their gender and occupational expectations. Even when their potential for success is undeniable, these women are typically derogated and viewed as unlikeable for violating prescriptive gender norms. We examined whether conservative U.S. women would respond in this unfavorable manner toward Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Female undergraduates (n = 140) were randomly assigned to watch a set of three campaign ads that included either no slogan, a gender-neutral slogan (“Stronger Together”), or a gendered slogan (“I’m with Her”). Afterwards, they rated Clinton on dimensions related to interpersonal hostility, competency, and overall support. Given its adherence to traditional values and gender roles, we hypothesized that political conservatism would be predictive of critical responses to Clinton, especially when the campaign slogan made her gender-norm violation salient. Results revealed that conservative ideology was more strongly associated with increased ratings of perceived hostility and less support for Clinton within the “I’m with Her” condition than with the comparison groups. These findings point to the social maintenance of political inequality and suggest that female leaders may need to use gender-neutral platforms to diminish the negative effects of their perceived norm violation, at least among conservative voters.
KeywordsSex role attitudes Gender norm violations Female leaders Conservatism Political psychology
The authors thank Suzette Caleo, Elizabeth Parks-Stamm, and members of the Social Perception & Attitudes Lab at Providence College for their feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
The results reported in this manuscript have not been published previously and are not currently submitted for publication elsewhere. This research was conducted in a manner consistent with the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles in the Conduct of Research with Human Participants (1982).
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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