Gender stereotypes and attitudes toward gender balance in government

Kathleen Dolan, Kira Sanbonmatsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The desire to elect more women to public office is likely to affect a range of political behaviors and may explain the relatively low levels of women's descriptive representation overall. Yet, little is known about the public's view of the ideal gender composition of government. We find that the public expresses a preference for higher levels of women's representation than the country has experienced. Women are more likely than men to express a view, though men and women do not differ in their preferences on the ideal percentage of male officeholders. We examine the role of gender stereotypes and the experience of being represented by women officeholders in shaping support for women's representation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-428
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Descriptive representation
  • Gender stereotypes
  • Women candidates


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