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Research on gender stereotypes has found that voters ascribe certain beliefs and traits to candidates based on the candidate's sex. Most of this research relies on experimental data and examines stereotyping solely in terms of voter decision making. In contrast, we examine state executive office elections to determine if stereotypes influence both candidate selection and success. State executive elections are ideal for studying gender stereotypes as many of the offices focus on specific policy issues that correspond with stereotypical competencies of male and female candidates. We find considerable support for our expectation of an interaction between candidate sex and office type in candidate selection: women are less likely to run for offices that are inconsistent with their stereotypical strengths and, beginning in 1990, somewhat more likely to run for stereotypically consistent offices. In terms of candidate success, however, we do not find that women's likelihood of winning varies strongly across office types. Ultimately, our work demonstrates that stereotyping is more likely during candidate selection than has previously been documented, and strongly suggests that we must examine more closely the processes by which women become candidates for elective office.

Recommended Citation

Fox, Richard L., and Zoe M. Oxley. “Gender Stereotyping in State Executive Elections: Candidate Selection and Success.” The Journal of Politics, vol. 65, no. 3, 2003, pp. 833–850.