Media Coverage and the Gender Gap In Political Ambition Open Access

Research has shown that the lack of women in elected office is due to a disparity in the number of women who choose to run. But little research considers whether the media environment may exacerbate this so-called gender gap in political ambition. In this project, I test whether exposure to news stories that emphasize the importance of candidates’ policy expertise and public speaking ability make women less interested in running for office. This hypothesis arises from previous research that finds women often view themselves as less qualified for political office than similarly qualified men. To test the hypothesis, I draw on an original survey experiment conducted in early 2018 with a national sample of adults and a sample of college students. If the media play a role in reinforcing misperceptions that women lack the qualifications to run for office, that may help explain the persistence of gender inequality in the American political institutions.

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