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Not All Cues Are Created Equal: The Conditional Impact of Female Candidates on Political Engagement

Lonna Rae Atkeson
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 65, No. 4 (Nov., 2003), pp. 1040-1061
DOI: 10.1111/1468-2508.t01-1-00124
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1111/1468-2508.t01-1-00124
Page Count: 22
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Not All Cues Are Created Equal: The Conditional Impact of Female Candidates on Political Engagement
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Abstract

Over the past several decades women's lives in the public sphere have increased dramatically, providing women with more political resources than they have ever had before. Yet the gap between men and women's level of political engagement in a number of key areas of political life has persisted. This suggests that political or contextual factors, rather than resources or socialization, may be key in understanding these differences. One contextual factor that may be important to female political engagement is competitive female candidates. The hypothesis that visible and competitive women matter to female citizens is tested by examining the relationship between various political attitudes and behaviors and the presence (or absence) of a viable statewide female candidate. The models indicate that there is overwhelming support for the hypothesis that women citizens in states with competitive and visible female candidates increase their political engagement. These results suggest that descriptive representation matters in important ways.

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