Since her successful second debate performance, Carly Fiorina has risen in the polls and gained greater attention from media and voters. That interest has yielded comparisons between her and the other woman in the race, Hillary Clinton, focusing on differences in their personas, policy positions, and political strategies. Some commentators have praised Carly Fiorina for downplaying her gender while claiming that Hillary Clinton is using her gender in opportunistic and insincere ways.
There has been no shortage of gender bias in the presidential race since our last installment. Donald Trump’s attacks on women (and men) in the race continue to evoke gender tropes and sexist tone. But Trump’s comments are not alone in their reliance on, or reinforcement of, gender stereotypes. In fact, in responding to Trump, some candidates and commentators fall into the same traps of gendered rhetoric.
While much of the “gender” dialogue about the latest GOP debate has focused on who said what about women and which women were suggested for the $10 bill, there were gender dynamics threaded throughout both debates in more covert, but pervasive, ways. These dynamics may alter expectations about who can and should lead the nation, so it’s worth paying attention.
Hillary Clinton officially launched “Women for Hillary” this weekend, prefacing her New Hampshire event with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (the first woman Senator from the state) with outreach to women voters online and via email. That outreach celebrated the twentieth anniversary of Clinton’s 1995 speech at the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, where she stated clearly, “Human rights are women’s rights … and women’s rights are human rights.” Her message was consistent with an idea featured formally at the Beijing meeting to move gender equality to the forefront of policy and political agendas: what the UN has titled “gender mainstreaming.”
In this On the Bias, we discuss if, when, and where double standards exist for women running for office. From debate rules to evaluations of authenticity, do men and women face the same hurdles? And, what does the masculinity of presidential campaigns mean for men and women’s behavior, treatment, and evaluations?