Research shows that voters often use gender stereotypes to evaluate candidates, but less work studies whether stereotyping affects women’s chances of winning elections, and the work that exists reaches divergent conclusions. We develop hypotheses about how the effects of gender stereotyping vary by context, which we test using data on thousands of local elections. We find that gender stereotyping hurts women more in executive races than legislative races, helps women more when the salient issue is education, and hurts women more in conservative constituencies. Consistent with our argument that this reflects stereotyping, these effects are largest in on-cycle elections, in which the average voter has less information about local candidates. By opening up the possibility of varying effects, and by analyzing data on how people voted in real elections rather than attitudes about hypothetical candidates, we advance our understanding of how voter stereotyping affects the success of women running for office.
Sarah Anzia studies American politics with a focus on state and local government, elections, interest groups, political parties, and public policy. Her book, Timing and Turnout: How Off-Cycle Elections Favor Organized Groups, examines how the timing of elections can be manipulated to affect both voter turnout and the composition of the electorate, which, in turn, affects election outcomes and public policy. She also studies the role of government employees and public-sector unions in elections and policymaking in the U.S. In addition, she has written about the politics of public pensions, women in politics, the historical development of electoral institutions, and the power of political party leaders in state legislatures. Her work has been published in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, the Quarterly Journal of Political Science, and Studies in American Political Development. She has a Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University and an M.P.P. from the Harris School at the University of Chicago.