‘Sexism’ Isn’t Harming Female Candidates

Article here. Excerpt:

'After Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in 2016, mainstream media outlets tried strenuously to make sense of what happened. One narrative quickly emerged: sexism. Hillary lost because Americans can’t stand women in power, we were informed. (Oddly, during the campaign we were told that, if she won, it would also usher in “the kind of down-and-dirty public misogyny you might expect from a stag party at Roger Ailes’s house,” but no matter.)

Yet no amount of media pandering to Pantsuit Nation could alter the fact that Hillary was a uniquely awful candidate. There’s a reason 53 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump, and it’s not because they were all gender traitors. If Americans are so sexist, why did many of them in battleground states like Pennsylvania cast their vote for a different woman, Green Party candidate Jill Stein? And if sexism unfairly hobbled Hillary, why did she manage to best Trump in the popular vote? (Alas, annoyed liberals, you still need the Electoral College to win.)

Despite these pesky facts, the sexism narrative has persisted. Today it’s being updated for 2020, as a front-page story in the New York Times suggests. With six Democratic women already announced as candidates for the presidency, the Times story implies, we’re going to see non-stop sexism on the campaign trail.

Or will we? The Times article relies for its evidence on thin research (one study cited in the piece was an online questionnaire sent to 310 people) and an overreliance on the opinions of a “gender expert” who works for the Barbara Lee Family Foundation. Its 2016 Presidential Gender Watch report argued that even though an overwhelming majority of Americans in 2016 reported being ready for a female president (8 in 10 Americans according to one poll), the country still suffers from something called “aversive sexism,” where “discriminatory beliefs or behaviors are justified on the basis of factors other than gender.”

The only problem? It’s not true and hasn’t been for some time. Researchers have found no evidence of systematic sexism or bias against female candidates running for office. When women run, they “win elections at the same rates as men,” as historian Nancy Cohen has documented. Scholars such as Dartmouth professor Deborah Jordan Brooks have found no evidence of sexist attitudes or biases undermining female candidates. “I do not find any evidence that the public makes less favorable underlying assumptions about female candidates, nor do I find that the public has more challenging rules for the behavior of women on the campaign trail,” she writes.'

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