Date of Thesis

5-9-2017

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Christopher Ellis

Abstract

My thesis is interested in voter behavior and the role gender plays in their choice of candidates. Specifically, I seek to understand the significance of gender in voters' perceptions of candidates for higher office. First, I analyzed previous academic literature about voter considerations, political ambition, and the reasons for the representation gap in American politics. Then, I completed a qualitative study asking respondents about characteristics of preferred candidates to look for gender cues, and a quantitative study asking respondents to evaluate potential candidates for higher office. Because of the increasing importance of partisanship, I found that contrary to public perception, gender was not a significant consideration for voters. Otherwise identical potential male and female candidates were evaluated equally by voters. These results suggest that while gender stereotypes may have previously impacted voter perception of female candidates, it is not a major barrier to women running for office. It shows us that public perception has not caught up with political reality, and that the only way to address the underrepresentation of women in politics is for social perceptions about voter behavior to realign with how views of female candidates have progressed.

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