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Twice as Hard, Half as Good? Women Candidates on the Campaign Trail


What are women’s pathways to political office? And what are the barriers they face along the way that can explain the continued lack of women’s representation in elected office?How can we explain that women, when they stand for office, are about as likely to win as men? To answer these questions, we reconsider the “gender penalty”faced by women candidates to take into account their everyday experiences on the campaign trail. We ask whether women are working “twice as hard” to achieve similar levels of electoral success. To answer this question, we investigate the ways in which women candidates anticipate and counter everyday experiences by working “twice as hard” or being “twice as good.  

To better understand how these everyday encounters on the campaign trail, both online and offline and in the media, shape women’s campaign efforts and chances at electoral success, we have an ambitious five-year programme of research that captures candidate experiences and assesses their impact on electoral outcomes. We employ a mixed-methods approach, bringing together participant-observation of candidates on the campaign trail in four countries with quantitative media analysis, candidate surveys and a battery of items administered in Round 11 of the European Social Survey to create a cross-national gender attitudes index. This rich data will generate new insights into the causes of women’s continued under-representation in politics.