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The Societal Eye of Different Gendered Candidates

Would you change the way you evaluate a candidate or your vote just because of their gender? Gender is a social construct and gender statuses are socially created by what society deems is correct for a certain gender. With that said, one’s gender may factor into the choice of the voter and candidate evaluations when it comes to deciding who to vote for during elections. In all elections that have had a female and male as candidates, society automatically assumed that the female candidate would have a more challenging time than her male opponent convincing voters that they are capable to lead the country. This is all because of how “gender bias emerges in the voting booth” and the expectations of men and women when it comes to society.

“Doing gender” refers to the things you do to show society your gender and conforming or not conforming to gender roles. Relating this to the issue of presidency between male and female, it is not socially expected for a women to run for president just because of society’s expectation of gender roles. For example, Clinton was criticized by Trump for taking naps to further make her image seem like a person too weak to lead this country. “Gender is an achieved status that is constructed through psychological, cultural, and social means. Doing gender involves a complex of socially guided perceptual, interactional, and micro political activities that cast particular pursuits as expressions of masculine and feminine natures” (West and Zimmerman 125).

Gender stereotypes are notions about certain traits, roles, and behaviors that society sees acceptable for women and men. Some feminine stereotypes that women are characterized by today include women being seen as more caring, sympathetic, and sensitive than males, who are seen as tough, assertive, and strong. In terms of politics, society sees these masculine stereotypes work in the men’s favor because these are societal expectations for political leaders, while feminine stereotypes oppose those expectations. Female candidates have to be more qualified than their male opponents to succeed in an election because many voters have a hard time seeing women as leaders. “Gender is such a familiar part of daily life that it usually takes a deliberate disruption of our expectations of how men and women are supposed to act to pay attention to how it is produced” (Lorber 100). This explains my argument about how gender statuses are socially created by what society believes is correct for a particular gender. Even though gender does not directly determine the outcome of an election, one can see how this may affect the evaluating and voting process during elections between different gendered candidates.

Women are seen as more empathetic and less decisive than men while men are seen as more assertive and rational than woman. Women are also seen as individuals who lack toughness and are less capable and skilled to handle the emotional demands of high office (Ditonto et al 338). Also, voters have beliefs of the qualities that women have that are connected to their impressions of female politicians. A voter may anticipate that a female politician will be compassionate in light of the fact that he believes that women are compassionate. These feminine qualities are conflicting with the masculine characteristics essential for the roles of leadership (Schnieder and Bos 245). This further supports and deepens my analysis of how gender affects the way society evaluates different gendered candidates due to the social construction of gender.

The way society has socially constructed gender has had an ultimate effect in our lives. In this case, gender may play a role when it comes to voter choice and candidate evaluation during presidential elections. Society has created certain expectations for certain genders and have also created gender stereotypes which include how men and women are seen by the world. Society’s expectations include women being seen as more caring and sensitive than males, who are seen as tough and assertive. One can see how this may alter a voter’s decision during election time and impacts the way society evaluates candidates. However, there are things that can be done to counter stereotypes such as inspiring women to join customarily male-dominated positions in society.

ejiodc13 • December 14, 2016

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