Leading with Authority (2008)


While voters are coming to see women candidates as the norm in Governors races, they continue to judge women candidates differently; sometimes according them advantage and sometimes penalizing them. For example, voters believe women are not as well prepared as men to manage a financial crisis, but they also view women as more fair in divvying up scarce resources. As more women govern, it will be interesting to see whether these presumptions drawn from gender stereotypes dissolve.

Today, women candidates appear more willing to be themselves, to use traditional female strengths strategically: personalizing an issue to convey empathy or demonstrating their inclusive, consensus-oriented styles. Yet some women candidates refrain from using the full range of their experiences to connect with voters and many woman candidates express discomfort with the head-to-head competition of debates and media scrutiny. Taking public risks, demonstrating strength without being aggressive, conveying competence and likeability; these challenges persist for women candidates.