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Does exposure to gender role models increase women’s political ambition? A field experiment with politicians


Foos, Florian; Gilardi, Fabrizio (2020). Does exposure to gender role models increase women’s political ambition? A field experiment with politicians. Journal of Experimental Political Science, 7(3):157-166.

Abstract

There is a persistent gender gap in motivations to run for political office. While exposure to role models is widely believed to increase women’s political ambition, there is little field experimental evidence on whether exposure to female politicians in realistic settings can increase political ambition. We conducted a field experiment in which a sample of 612 female students was randomly assigned to receive emails inviting them to an event that included career workshops with female politicians, or no email. The treatment increased interest in the ongoing national election campaign, but, against expectations, did not have any positive effect on political ambition. Our results suggest that female politicians who discuss their experience bluntly, instead of following a motivational script, may fail to motivate other women to pursue a political career. These results highlight the need for more research into the type of events and messages that bring more women into politics.

Abstract

There is a persistent gender gap in motivations to run for political office. While exposure to role models is widely believed to increase women’s political ambition, there is little field experimental evidence on whether exposure to female politicians in realistic settings can increase political ambition. We conducted a field experiment in which a sample of 612 female students was randomly assigned to receive emails inviting them to an event that included career workshops with female politicians, or no email. The treatment increased interest in the ongoing national election campaign, but, against expectations, did not have any positive effect on political ambition. Our results suggest that female politicians who discuss their experience bluntly, instead of following a motivational script, may fail to motivate other women to pursue a political career. These results highlight the need for more research into the type of events and messages that bring more women into politics.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Language:English
Date:1 January 2020
Deposited On:02 Dec 2020 17:46
Last Modified:03 Dec 2020 21:01
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:2052-2630
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/xps.2019.21

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