Where are the Women? The Effects of Gender Stereotyping on Vote Choice for U.S. Congressional Candidates

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Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Claire Haeg, Political Science


In 2010, females in the United States comprise just over 50% of the population but only consist of 17% of the 441 members of the United States Congress. Unfortunately, gender stereotyping has had a politically negative impact on women as candidates running for national office. Specifically, gender stereotyping ultimately impacts the vote choice of the electorate. Many models have been established to explain the influence of gender stereotyping on vote choice. However, many of these models have not been examined in recent years and the amount of current data is lacking. This research aims to reexamine the model established by Huddy and Terkildsen in 1993. The objective is to examine the model's validity and to complete research about the effect of gender stereotyping on vote choice that can improve the current research disparity. The research includes survey data collected in a modernized version of Huddy and Terkildsen's methodology that focuses on collecting data specifically about U.S. congressional candidate. The research focuses on the importance of typical "male" and "female" personality traits and defining the issue competence of a perceived "good" member of Congress. Ultimately, the results show that even with slight changes in methodology, "male" characteristics are still perceived as desirable for "good" politicians in the United States Congress and continue to translate into election success for male candidates. These findings suggest that even in modern elections, gender stereotyping persists and continues to be a major factor on the number of women in the United States Congress.