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Gender, Sexual Orientation and Stereotypes: Challenges for Lesbian and Gay Candidates

Presented by Joanna Everitt, UNB Saint John

This paper explores how the public stereotypes politicians based on gender and sexual orientation when cued about these identities in low information environments. While many studies examine high profile races to demonstrate the impact that media coverage and its potential to trigger stereotypes has on opportunities for female or queer candidates, few studies explore its implications in typical elections at the riding level.

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Here candidates often have low public profiles and struggle for media coverage.  As a result voters are left grasping for cues to inform their assessments of politicians’ personal strengths and weaknesses, increasing the potential for stereotyping to occur.

To test the potential for these stereotypes, this study is designed around an experimental design in which respondents are provided with successive news stories about generic politicians, each providing additional information about the candidate including his or her gender and sexual. After each story respondents are required to respond to a questionnaire asking them to evaluate the political candidate on a series of character traits. Using this approach the paper contributes to the general study of gender and identity in politics, with particular attention to the question of how these stereotypes may be triggered by media coverage and have a potentially damaging or marginalizing effect on gays or lesbians seeking electoral office.



Queens 1H