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Women and Politics

Katy Shoemaker Bloomsburg University Mentor: Dr. Faith Warner

The United States in the year of 2013 still has yet to elect a woman presidential leader This lack of women in leadership positions can be due to an apparent gender gap that exists within the way that voters are voting in the United States. This project closely examines the reasons for the gender gap and how and why Americans are voting the ways in which they are.

Library Research
Cyberethnography and book research
JSTOR, Anthro Abstracts, Academic Search Complete, Google Scholar

Ethnographic Surveying
Open-ended Questions Close-ended Questions
Structured, Unstructured, and Semi-Structured Multiple choice, list, and ranking questions

Ethnographic Interviewing

The Place and the People

Bloomsburg University Students Ages 18-40+ Socioeconomic status and political party affiliation varied

Single-Site Ethnography
Naturally bound population

Sample group:

Hypothesis/Research Question
Are Americans open to electing a woman president in the United States? What are the general views of currently enrolled undergraduate students towards women political leaders? Are there gender differences in college students attitudes, biases, and beliefs regarding gender, political leadership, and potential candidates for president of the United States? *Goal is to better understand and comprehend the public opinion on womens roles in politics in the United States

Relevance, Context and Theory

Historically, the United States has yet to elect a woman into executive office
As of 2013 there are:
100 women serving in the 113th U.S. Congress: 81 in the House of Representatives 20 in the Senate (Manning 2013: 153)

Globally in 2013, there are 19 women political leaders serving their countries (Manning 2013: 153)
Germany is the largest nation run by a woman Angela Merkel is actual listed by Forbes as being the most powerful woman in the world
(Goudreau 2011: 1)

Hillary Clinton comes in as second as most powerful woman in the world pictures/lmj45gkhg/ang ela-merkel-germany

In comparison to the rest of the world, the United States ranks at number 91 in the percentage of women in the National Legislature with only 16.9% (Fulton 2012:305)

Relevance, Context and Theory

Women need to de-masculinize leadership roles in politics Women are not seen as fit for the presidential race and for the seat in the executive office:
Prejudice against women in leadership positions exists because stereotypes of women and those leaders are not perceived as a fit. Whereas the female gender role is characterized by communal qualities such as kind, sympathetic, and nurturing, the leadership role is characterized by argentic qualities such as aggressive, ambitious, and dominant. (Simon and Hoyt 2008: 159)

Women are seen as being at a disadvantage because they are not regarded as possessing the most desirable traits by voters
Kind Sympathetic Nurturing Dominant Intelligent Decisive

Relevance, Context and Theory

Research suggests there is a paradox in public opinions on who makes a better leader The apparent gender gap that exists among voters in the United States is a gender crisis Gender crisis exists in part to the way that Americans are choosing to vote, who they are voting for, their own underlying bias towards gender equality
(Carroll and Fox 2010: 129)

Sample population size n=350
70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Men Women 1.13 9.6 1.69 37.57

Political Party
45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0





Age Range
22-28 29-34



All data was then analyzed from the sample size of gender of participants

Quantitative Results
Women 8% (17) 47% (102) 45% (98) Definitely Yes Possibly Definitely No Men 18% (24) 23% (30) 58% (78) Definitely Yes Possibly Definitely No

Would you vote for a woman to be president of the United States?

Women Men Definitely Yes Possibly Definitely No

4% (8)
58% 125

16% (21)

39% (84)

29% (39)

Definitely Yes Possibly Definitely No

54% (72)

Quantitative Results
Who do you believe would be most likely to vote for a woman presidential candidate?
5% 1% (17) (2)

7% (23)

Younger men (18-30) Younger women (18-30)

28% (99) 51% (179)

Middle-aged men (31-50) Middle-aged women (31-50) Older men (over 50) Older women (over 50)

5% (17)

What effect would a woman president have on the United States?

100 80

40 20 0

Men Women

Very Positive

Somewhat Positive


Somehwhat Negative

Very Negative

Quantitative Results
How many countries in the world today have a woman political leader?
Men and Womens Results Combined 15+ 5%

11 to 15 9%

None 9%

6 to 10 24%

1 to 5 53%

*Note: Only 5% of the total people surveyed answered this question correctly.

The correct answer is 15+, currently 19 countries in the world have a woman political leader (Manning 2013: 1)

Quantitative Results
How would the rest of the world view the U.S if we elected a woman president?

45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 9% (18) 6% (8) 19% (41) 12% (16)

40% (88) 33% (45) 30% (41) 30% (66) Men


14% (19)


2% (4) Very Positive Somewhat Positive Neutral Somewhat Negative Very Negative

Quantitative Results
Out of these possible presidential candidates, please give them a score from 1-10, with 10 being the most likely to be elected as president, and 1 being the least likely.
Candidate: Average Scoring: 4.01 7.00 3.87 3.69 4.10 5.18

______ Michelle Bachmann ______ Hillary Clinton ______ Elizabeth Warren ______ Nikki Haley ______ Sarah Palin ______ Condoleezza Rice

Michelle Bachmann Hillary Clinton Elizabeth Warren Nikki Haley Sarah Palin Condoleezza Rice

Qualitative Results
Personality traits most desired in a political leader


Able to listen, Acceptance, Achievement, Adaptable, Aggression, Ambition, Analytical, Antiwar, Appealing, Articulate, Assertive, Attitude, Attractive, Authoritative, Awareness, Believer, Bold, Brave, Calm, Caring, Cautious, Charismatic, Charm, Clever, Committed, Common sense, Compromise, Contentious, Conformist, Considerate, Cool-headed, Cooperative, Courageous Creative, Credible, Critical-thinker, Cultured, Decisive Defensive, Demanding, Democratic, Desirable, Devoted, Diligent, Diplomatic, Diverse, Do-gooder, Dominate, Down to earth, Driven, Economic, Effective, Empathy, Enthusiastic Environmental, Equality, Ethical, Experienced, Fair, Family man, Family oriented, Flexible, For the people, Forward thinking, Friendly, Funny, Gender equality, Generous, Genius, Genuine, Good Character, Good liar, Good reputation, Happy, Hard work, Healthcare friendly, Helpful, Honorable, Hopeful, Humble, Humorous , Independent, Informed, Innovative, Instinctive, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Keeping to word, Kind, Knowledge, Law, Learner, Level-headed, Liberal, Likeable, Listener, Logical, Lower-class, Male, Management, Manipulative, Mentally tough, Military, Money management, Moral, Motherly Motivated, Natural citizen, Nice , Non-biased, Not corrupt, Opinionated, Optimistic, Organized, Outside the box, Passionate, Patriotic, Patience, People person, Perseverance, Persistence, Personable, Personality, Persuasive, Politics, Positive, Powerful, Proactive, Problem solving, Professional, Protective, Qualified, Rational, Reactive, Realistic, Reasonable, Relatable, Reliable, Resilient Respectful , Responsive, Risk-taker, Role model, Self-confidence, Selfless, Sexy, Simple, Sincerity, Social, Stern, Straight forward, Street smarts, Strong minded, Tactical Thinker, Thrifty, Tolerant, Truthful, Unbiased, Understanding, Unique, Unity, Values, Variable, Vigorous Well spoken, White, Wise, Working class

Qualitative Results
Some quotes from this semi-structured open-ended question: In your opinion, can or will the United States elect a woman as president? Why or why not?
I believe one day the United States will elect a woman as president. With the way the world is changing, I feel like many more historical advances are in store for the future. People nowadays are more accepting of change and are more likely to pick the candidate with the strongest campaign, which could very well be a female presidential candidate. ---Anonymous Participant Comment I would vote for a woman president because there are many women in politics who could lead us better than the men in congress. ---Anonymous Participant Comment

I hope in the near future a woman will be elected as president. The world is changing and men and women are equal human beings. If you have the right to vote, you have the right to be elected for president. ---Anonymous Participant Comment

Women have had to battle for equal treatment in politics in the United States by originally winning the right to vote and for a seat at the political table. The time is now for HER to take a seat in the presidents chair. ---Anonymous Participant

The Gender Gap appears to be very wide on all issues with the exception of how university students believe that the world would view the U.S. if we elected a woman president
On this issue the gap closed somewhat but not completely in terms of gender A much larger number of men (14 %, 19), than women (2%, 4) believed that the impact would be very negative, revealing a decided bias towards women leaders in a global context

There is a large gap between men and women university students in terms of their belief that America is ready for a woman president
Over twice as many women answered definitely yes and 18% of men, nearly 1 in 5, said definitely no

The widest gender gap occurred when respondents were asked if they would vote for a woman president
58% of women definitely would, as opposed to 29% of men. However, 16% of men responded that they would definitely NOT vote for a woman, as opposed to 4% of women

There are several personality traits that young voters seek out in their potential presidential candidate, of all mentioned the highest frequencies were in leadership (95), honest (78), and intelligent (44)
This indicates that young voters seek out a highly educated, strong leader for their country This also indicates that the masculine traits are still trending among young voters

Future Research
Future Research Goals Include:
Surveying the general public on similar questions Surveying specifically registered voters on this topic

Possible Masters Thesis in related topics Some research depends on election in the year 2016 and who is elected into office at that time

I would personally like to thank:
My mentor and advisor, Dr. Faith Warner Field Methods in Cultural Anthropology Class
Specifically Mike Dessino and Shannon Sursely

Bloomsburg University Department of Anthropology Bloomsburg University College of Liberal Arts Bloomsburg University Students (participants) Thank you everyone for all of your help and support this semester!

Borrelli, MaryAnne and Martin, Janet M., ed. 1997 Women, Politics, and Power in the Executive Branch. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Center for the American Women and Politics 2012 The Gender Gap Voting Choices in Presidential Elections Fact Sheet. Electronic Document, Carroll, Susan J. and Fox, Richard L. 2010 Gender and Elections Shaping the Future of American Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press. Fulton, S. A. (2012). Running Backwards and in High Heels: The Gendered Quality Gap and Incumbent Electoral Success .Political Research Quarterly, 65(2), 303-314 Goudreau, Jenna 2013 Forbes: Worlds Most Powerful Women in Politics. Electronic Document, ds-most-powerful-women-politics-hillary-clinton-angela-merkelmichele- bachmann/, accessed December 2, 2013.

Manning, E. Jennifer (2013). Membership of the 113th Congress: A Profile. Pew Research Center for the People and the Press 2012 The Gender Gap: Three Decades Old Wide As Ever. Electronic Document,, accessed November 14, 2013. Pew Research Center for the People and the Press 2013 Men or Women: Whos the Better Leader? A Paradox in Public Attitudes. Electronic Document,, accessed December 2, 2013. Smeal, Eleanor 2011 The Gender Gap Lives. Liberty Media for Women (21(1):13-15. Simon, Stefanie and Hoyt, Crystal L. 2008 Exploring the Gender Gap in Support for a Woman President. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy 8(1): 157-181. Vaughn, Justin S. and Goren, Lilly J. 2013 Women and the White House Gender, Popular Culture and Presidential Politics. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky.