Lefkofridi Zoe, Nathalie Giger and Anne Maria Holli.

Lefkofridi Zoe, Nathalie Giger and Anne Maria Holli.

When all Parties Nominate Women: The Role of Political Gender Stereotypes in Voters’ Choices, Forthcoming in Politics and Gender.

To what extent do political gender stereotypes matter in contexts where voters’ choices of candidates are not constrained by partisan cues, like in the U.S., because there is a large supply of female candidates by all competing parties? Furthermore, to what extent do they matter for  voters' choices among candidates where proportional representation (PR) rules are used and more than two parties compete? In pursuit of these questions, our study contributes to the literature in three important ways: Firstly, we advance theory by exploring novel conditions under which stereotypes matter. We examine stereotypes in Finland, a case whichdiffers greatly from previous investigations regarding the state of achieved gender equality, electoral rules and party competition, as well as the relationship between gender and partisan cues. Competition between female and male candidates takes place within the party as all parties’ lists contain candidates of both sexes. Hence, supporters of all parties can select one among many female and male candidates at no cost to their partisan preferences. At the same time, however, the Finnish electoral system offers voters a unique possibility to discriminate against female candidates given that they must always make a choice between the two genders. Hence, by conducting a harder test of the effect of stereotypes, our study examines whether the insights gained from the single U.S. case hold also in a diametrically different case. Secondly, we inquire about the role women’s dosage in politics plays and show that developments in gender equality weaken, but do not completely eliminate stereotypes. Thirdly, we show that stereotypes’ impact may vary across different settings of candidate choice. Our results show that while stereotypes always work in the hypothesized direction, their impact is marginal where many viable female candidates compete.