Christianne Corbett and Robb Willer explore perceptions of electability of female political candidates.
PNAS: Welcome to Science Sessions, the podcast of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where we connect you with Academy members, researchers, and policymakers. Join us as we explore the stories behind the science. I’m Paul Gabrielsen. Women have not yet achieved full and equal representation in the highest elected offices of the United States government. Is the reason for that partly due to voters’ perceptions of female candidates’ electability? In a recent PNAS study, Christianne Corbett and Robb Willer of Stanford University surveyed nearly 8,000 likely voters in the 2020 US Democratic presidential primary, which featured several women running for President, and found that many Democratic voters perceive women as less electable than men. Even for those who preferred a woman for President, this perception of inelectability often resulted in an intention to instead vote for a male candidate. But informing voters that female candidates earn about the same support as men in general elections boosted support for women by 3%, which in some elections may be a decisive amount.