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Twice as Hard, Half as Good? Women Candidates on the Campaign Trail


What are women’s pathway to political office? To better understand women's political participation it is important to understand how and under which conditions sexism by voters, media and political parties, actual and anticipated, can lead women candidates to alter campaign behavior and strategies. For the proposed programme of research in TWICEASGOOD, we reconceptualize the “gender penalty” faced by women candidates to take into account their everyday experiences on the campaign trail. We aim to understand the ways in which women candidates anticipate and counter these everyday experiences by being “twice as good”, in order to achieve electoral success.

To better understand how these everyday encounters on the campaign trail, both online and offline and in the media, shape women’s campaign efforts and chances at electoral success, we propose an ambitious five-year programme of research that captures candidate experiences and assesses their impact on electoral outcomes. We used a mixed-methods approach, bringing together participant-observation of candidates on the campaign trail in four countries with quantitative media analysis, candidate surveys and a battery of items administered in Round 11 of the European Social Survey to create a cross-national gender attitudes index. This rich data will generate new insights about the causes of women’s continued under-representation in politics.