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Are voters biased against women candidates?

Are voters biased against women candidates?

With a record number of women in the fight for the White House, it's time to re-examine what role - if any - gender biases may play in the 2020 election. It's been a groundbreaking year for women in US politics: 1,834 women won office at the state and federal level during the mid-term elections last November and 2,112 are serving in state legislative offices .

The year 2018 saw the largest increase in female representation in state governments following a decade of stagnation, according to the Center for American Women in Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University. Six women have launched campaigns for the highest office in the land. Women have vied for the Oval Office in the past - Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina in 2016, Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run, in 1972, back to Victoria Woodhull in 1872, to name a few - but 2018 has seen more candidates than ever before.

Each presidential hopeful must prove they are the best fit for the job, regardless of gender. But some argue the women are up against something more: unconscious biases that have long coloured our understanding of who a leader can be.

"We all constantly form stereotypes based on what we observe - and we're not thinking about forming them, so they lie a bit below the surface... that's the implicit part," says professor Alice Eagly, a gender psychology professor at Northwestern University, Illinois.


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