Voters often have stereotyped views toward men and women in politics. Women, for instance, are frequently typecast as being more liberal and having less leadership qualities than men. In order to survive electoral competition, therefore, female candidates may need to avoid conforming to their gender stereotypic image. Yet, we know little about whether and to what extent female candidates are rewarded or punished when they deviate from their gender stereotypic image. Using a conjoint survey experiment in Japan, we show that not only are female candidates disadvantaged in general compared to their male counterparts, but also that they suffer around a five percentage point penalty in support when they diverge from gender-based behavioral expectations. This suggests that female candidates face a difficult dilemma because avoiding such negative sanctions by playing their gender role may result in producing a potential for further gender-based prejudice against themselves.
Part of the Yale Project on Japan’s Politics and Diplomacy Series sponsored by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.