Pragmatic Bias Impedes Women's Access to Political Leadership

Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

Women remain underrepresented in political leadership in the United States and beyond. While abundant research has studied the possible impact of gender stereotypes on support for women candidates, our research finds that voters also withhold support for women candidates because they perceive practical barriers to women successfully attaining political leadership positions. We find that providing Democratic primary voters with evidence that women earn as much electoral support as men in US general elections increased intentions to vote for women candidates. Our results suggest that women face complex barriers that prevent gender equity in politics, and these barriers can be reduced when voters believe that Americans not only want but also will take action to support women candidates.