Voters are put off by male-dominated candidate lists

Welcome to the latest in my occasional series highlighting interesting findings from academic research. Today – evidence from a study of five countries on the impact of having more women candidates.

To quote the conclusion:

Voters strongly prefer equal representation of men and women when making their vote choice. In all subgroups (men, women, left and right leaning), as well as all countries in this study, voters prefer an equal share of men and women among MPs of a hypothetical party to parties that have predominantly male or female MPs. Additionally, female lead candidates increase the likelihood to vote for a party and can even out the negative effect of pre-dominantly male MPs. These effects are generally stronger for women than for men.

The study also quotes earlier research:

A meta-analysis of 67 candidate choice experiments revealed that respondents … prefer women to men overall. Women are preferred by an average of 2 percentage points, a result that is largely consistent across a multitude of studies.

Taken from Jens Wäckerle, The end of the all-male party? Voter preferences for gender representation in political parties, Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties (2023).

You can read the other posts in the Evidence-based campaigning: what the academic research says series here.

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