Proposal for the 2016 Pilot Study: Fear of Gender Favoritism and Opposition to Women Candidates

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, recent research suggests that beliefs about gender stereotypes no longer undercut support for women candidates (e.g., Brooks 2013, Dolan 2014). For instance, several studies – including two that used the 2008 ANES – found that attitudes about gender roles had little-to-no effect on men’s support for Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primaries (Gervais and Hillard 2011; Huddy and Carey 2009; Kinder and Dale-Riddle 2012; Tesler and Sears 2010). By contrast, a list experiment found that 26% of men in a nationally representative sample were “angry or upset” about “a woman serving as president” (Streb et al. 2008). How can we explain these contradictory findings? One possibility is that social desirability bias interfered with the assessment of beliefs about gender stereotypes in prior surveys. Yet recent experiments using fictional candidates avoided this problem and still found that men did not apply a double-standard to women candidates (Brooks 2013). So the question remains: why do some men oppose women candidates because they are women?

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One thought on “
Proposal for the 2016 Pilot Study: Fear of Gender Favoritism and Opposition to Women Candidates

  1. L.J Zigerell

    [Disclosure: I am the author of the “Measuring Resentment of Black Americans” proposal.]

    Perceived gender favoritism is an interesting and important phenomenon to measure. But it appears necessary to also measure perceived gender favoritism among male political leaders, because estimating the degree to which, say, men are less likely to support female candidates because of female candidates’ expected favoritism toward women needs to be adjusted by the degree to which men expect male candidates to favor women or men.

    For example, male Democratic voters might have suspected that Hillary Clinton would be more likely to pursue the interests of women relative to men, but male Democratic voters might have also suspected that Barack Obama would be more likely to pursue the interests of women relative to men. Even if male Democratic voters suspected that Barack Obama would be more likely to pursue the interests of men relative to women, that would be an important reference for determining the relative emphasis that male Democratic voters expected Hillary Clinton to place on women relative to the emphasis that Barack Obama would have placed.

    Given that respondents might perceive male (and possibly female) candidates to pursue either female or male interests, maybe the items should be phrased so that respondents can select options that reflect different directions, such as a seven-point scale for a “[Female/Male] elected officials are likely to…” item that ranges from “Strongly favor women for government jobs over male applicants” to “Strongly favor men for government jobs over female applicants,” with a midpoint of “Treat male and female applicants the same.”

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