With more women than ever in elected office, more women are likely to face sexism on the campaign trail. Sexism in politics can take many forms, from double standards for women candidates, to undue criticisms of their appearance, voice, or clothing. The decisions of whether and how to address sexism can be complex to navigate for women candidates—involving questions about the candidate’s electability, how to deal with personal offense, and how to message about sexist incidents.
While the current COVID-19 pandemic underscores its importance, proving they can handle a crisis has consistently been important for women candidates and will continue to be so in the years to come.
When running for executive office, women face obstacles that men running simply do not. This research, which asks about hypothetical Asian American, Black, Latina, lesbian, and white women candidates of the two major political parties, comprehensively examines what it takes for a woman to prove to voters she is ready to serve in executive office.
Some women candidates may be hesitant to run again because they know that the barriers for women running for office are higher than they are for men - why should the standard after a loss be any different? This research shows that voters think women who have lost their elections are still qualified and likeable (two must-haves for women candidates), and that losing an election can be a good moment for a powerful launch of a woman candidate’s next campaign. It also points to concrete steps for women candidates to help set them up for a future run.