He Runs, She Runs: Why Gender Stereotypes Do Not Harm Women Candidates
Deborah Jordan Brooks
(New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2013), 221 pages.
In the October 2013 issue of Harper's Bazaar UK, Hillary Clinton received an early endorsement for president from actress Scarlett Johansson. During her interview with Fashion Features director Avril Mair, Johansson said she would support Clinton for president because she believes, "We could only benefit from having someone in office who has been a mother; women have a different perspective ... because of that maternal instinct." (1) Whether 2016 will see the election of the first female U.S. president remains to be seen, but not everyone considers the maternal instinct highlighted by Johansson to be a positive leadership trait. Commentators often echo the sentiment that women in politics are subjected to gender stereotypes and are subsequently penalized more for behavior that conforms with those stereotypes than their male counterparts are. Although there are now more women in Congress than ever before, females are still underrepresented across the political spectrum, seemingly perpetuating the belief that double standards in the politicized arena hold women back.
In her book, He Runs, She Runs: Why Gender Stereotypes Do Not Harm Women Candidates, Deborah Jordan Brooks, an associate professor of government at Dartmouth College, analyzes the notion that the American public holds female political candidates to a different set of standards that makes it harder for women to win office. She addresses the commonly held belief that female candidates face tougher scrutiny of their leadership qualifications and are punished for certain behaviors, such as crying, more than their male colleagues. Backed by a body of persuasive research, she argues that the exact opposite is true: the American public does not consider women to be inherently less-skilled leaders, and female candidates are not penalized more than men for how they behave. While the book's main purpose is to provide a starting point for understanding gender stereotypes in a post-2008 political context, Brooks' analysis also uncovers a promising future for women in politics. This premise is encouraging for those who think it is more difficult for female candidates to win a political campaign, especially in light of Hillary Clinton's recent (and perhaps future) presidential aspirations.
Brooks frames her research within the context of two...