Female leader popularity and the vote, 1996–2016: a global exploratory analysis

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Ruth Dassonneville University of Montreal, Canada

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Stephen Quinlan GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Germany

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Ian McAllister Australian National University, Australia

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Female politicians are assumed to suffer from gender bias in the political arena but existing research finds little evidence of an electoral cost to being a female candidate. Existing studies, however, have focused mostly on candidates, not leaders for top political office. Also, most evidence on this topic comes from a small number of countries. Using data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems Integrated Module Dataset, covering 600 leaders in 46 states globally over 20 years, we show that even though female party leaders are, on average, more liked than male leaders, this advantage is limited to experienced politicians. Furthermore, we demonstrate that despite this popularity advantage, parties that have a female leader do not appear to benefit from their leadership electorally.

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Ruth Dassonneville University of Montreal, Canada

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Stephen Quinlan GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Germany

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Ian McAllister Australian National University, Australia

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