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.
- Alter, C. (2018). A year ago, they marched. Now a record number of women are running for office. Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/5107499/record-number-of-women-are-running-for-office/.
- Beinart, P. (2016, October). Fear of a female president: Hillary Clinton’s candidacy has provoked a wave of misogyny – one that may roil American life for years to come. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/10/fear-of-a-female-president/497564/.
- Brazile, D. (2015, March 4). This time, Hillary will run as a woman. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/01/opinion/brazile-hillary-clinton-woman-2016/
- Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (2016). An estimated 24 million young people voted in 2016 election. Retrieved from http://civicyouth.org/an-estimated-24-million-young-people-vote-in-2016-election/.
- Cohen, R. (2017, May 8). The real reason Hillary Clinton lost. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-real-reason-hillary-clinton-lost/2017/05/08/d13c82fc-340f-11e7-b4ee-434b6d506b37_story.html?utm_term=.5f55827f1dc7.
- Eagly, A. H. (1987). Sex differences in social behavior: A social-role interpretation. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Hehman, E., Carpinella, C. M., Johnson, K. L., Leitner, J. B., & Freeman, J. B. (2014). Early processing of gendered facial cues predicts the electoral success of female politicians. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, 815–824. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550614534701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Heilman, M. E. (1983). Sex bias in work settings: The lack of fit model. Research in Organizational Behavior, 5, 269–298.Google Scholar
- Heilman, M. E., Block, C. J., & Martell, R. F. (1995). Sex stereotypes: Do they influence perceptions of managers? Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 10, 237–252.Google Scholar
- Jost, J. T., & Banaji, M. R. (1994). The role of stereotyping in system-justification and the production of false consciousness. British Journal of Social Psychology, 33, 1–27. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8309.1994.tb01008.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Jost, J. T., & Kay, A. C. (2005). Exposure to benevolent sexism and complementary gender stereotypes: Consequences for specific and diffuse forms of system justification. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 498–509. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1688.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Jost, J. T., Glaser, J., Kruglanski, A. W., & Sulloway, F. (2003b). Exceptions that prove the rule: Using a theory of motivated social cognition to account for ideological incongruities and political anomalies. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 383–393. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.129.3.383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Kay, A. C., & Jost, J. T. (2003). Complementary justice: Effects of 'poor but happy' and 'poor but honest' stereotype exemplars on system justification and implicit activation of the justice motive. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 823–837. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1243.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Lammers, J., Gordijn, E. H., & Otten, S. (2009). Iron ladies, men of steel: The effects of gender stereotyping on the perception of male and female candidates are moderated by prototypicality. European Journal of Social Psychology, 39, 186–195. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Lawless, J. L., & Fox, R. L. (2014). Men rule: The continued under-representation of women in U.S. Politics. American University. Retrieved from https://www.american.edu/spa/wpi/upload/2012-men-rule-report-web.pdf.
- Lilla, M. (2016, November 18). The end of identity liberalism. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/opinion/sunday/the-end-of-identity-liberalism.html.
- Malone, C. (2016, November 9). Clinton couldn’t win over White women. FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved from https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/clinton-couldnt-win-over-white-women/.
- Nelson, L. (2016, October 12). Donald Trump’s history of misogyny, sexism, and harassment: A comprehensive review. Vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/2016/10/8/13110734/donald-trump-leaked-audio-recording-billy-bush-sexism.
- Nosek, B. A., Banaji, M. R., & Jost, J. T. (2009). The politics of intergroup attitudes. In J. T. Jost, A. C. Kay, & H. Thorisdottir (Eds.), The social and psychological basis of ideology and system justification (pp. 480–506). Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195320916.003.020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Siddiqui, S., & Gambino, L., (2016, November 3). How women could vote Hillary Clinton into the White House. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/03/hillary-clinton-how-women-voters-could-win-election.
- Silver, N. (2016). Who will win the presidency? FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved from https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/.
- Van der Toorn, J., Feinberg, M., Jost, J. T., Kay, A. C., Tyler, T. R., Willer, R., … Wilmuth, C. (2015). A sense of powerlessness fosters system justification: Implications for the legitimation of authority, hierarchy, and government. Political Psychology, 36, 93–110. https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12183.
- Zarya, V. (2016, July 27). A brief history of Hillary Clinton’s complicated relationship with the “woman card.” Fortune. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2016/07/27/hillary-clinton-gender-dnc/.