Experimental Investigations of the Gendered Political Ambition Gap
30 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2014
Date Written: August 11, 2014
Political institutions around the world continue to be dominated by men. News media and scholarly accounts often focus on how external factors, like political parties and elite networks, and internal factors, like women’s self-confidence and political interest, combine to depress women’s political ambition. Yet, we know little about whether these popular narratives matter for effecting women’s political ambition. We demonstrate that blaming women’s underrepresentation on internal or external causes results in clear changes in women’s political ambition. Attributing women’s lack of parity in political offices to external factors is akin to blaming discrimination and allows group members to “discount” the possibility that failure rests on their own abilities. Alternatively, attributing women’s underrepresentation on internalized factors triggers stereotype threat, which depresses women’s political ambition. Our findings contribute to an understanding of women’s underrepresentation in political office and the importance of frames in encouraging civic engagement.
Keywords: gender, political ambition, political psychology, experiments
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