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Personality and Gendered Selection Processes in the Political Pipeline

  • Adam M. Dynes (a1), Hans J. G. Hassell (a2), Matthew R. Miles (a3) and Jessica Robinson Preece (a1)

Abstract

Most research on the causes of women's underrepresentation examines one of two stages of the political pipeline: the development of nascent political ambition or specific aspects of the campaign and election process. In this article, we make a different kind of contribution. We build on the growing literature on gender, psychology, and representation to provide an analysis of what kinds of men and women make it through the political pipeline at each stage. This allows us to draw some conclusions about the ways in which the overall process is similar and different for women and men. Using surveys of the general U.S. population (N = 1,939) and elected municipal officials such as mayors and city councilors (N = 2,354) that measure the distribution of Big Five personality traits, we find that roughly the same types of men and women have nascent political ambition; there is just an intercept shift for sex. In contrast, male and female elected officials have different personality profiles. These differences do not reflect underlying distributions in the general population or the population of political aspirants. In short, our data suggest that socialization into political ambition is similar for men and women, but campaign and election processes are not.

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Footnotes

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The authors wish to thank the anonymous reviewers; Jeremy Pope, Kris Kanthak, Kelly Dittmar, and Mirya Holman for their comments; as well as the participants at the 2017 Conference on Elite Personality and Political Institutions at the University of Notre Dame, the “Empirical Advances in the Study of Women and Politics” panel at the 2018 Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference, and the 2019 Women in Subnational Politics Workshop at Tulane University for their feedback. Jessica Preece wishes to acknowledge the support of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard University.

Footnotes

References

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Personality and Gendered Selection Processes in the Political Pipeline

  • Adam M. Dynes (a1), Hans J. G. Hassell (a2), Matthew R. Miles (a3) and Jessica Robinson Preece (a1)

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