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light of the 2016 United States Presidential election, women are still
underrepresented in elected office. Although female representation is the
highest it’s been in U.S. history women still only make-up just above 19% of
the 535 members of the United States Congress (Center for American Women in
Politics). Hilary Clinton was the first woman to run in a United States
Presidential election. While she won the popular vote by 2.9 million votes her
campaign was ultimately unsuccessful. A little over a year later, although
women have made immense strides in recent years, antiquated ideas of male
superiority in elected office still loom on the surface. As gender played a
large role in the 2016 election, it’s important to consider how it effects
voters at the poles. We have to consider the impact of individual attitudes
toward women as candidates or the ideals in which women represent. This study provides a more complete understanding
of why a voter will or will not support a candidate that supports pro-female
policy and overall views of a political candidate.     

Many studies reveal that deficiency
of candidate qualification, inadequate campaign resources, or lack of interest
from women to run for office do not account for the underrepresentation of
women in office (Dolan 2009). To explain the disparity, current empirical
research presents conflicting opinions that stem from automatic gender bias of
voters when evaluating candidates. On one hand, research reveals that gender
stereotypes play a large hand in the way people vote for candidates. For
instance, a study done in 2012 shows that soft political issues are attributed
to female candidates and hard political issues to males (Haley 2012). While on
the other hand, another study shows that female candidates can benefit from
breaking from gender norms to receive more favorable evaluations (Bauer 2016). Whether
females break from gender norms or embrace them the way both men and women’s
gender is viewed has a direct effect on their political careers and

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To coincide with gender
stereotyping of candidates is how voters view certain political issues. In the
2016 U.S. Presidential election topics such as funding for Planned Parenthood
and paid-family leave were primary issues in many debates. This resulted in
many attacks of candidates whom supported these issues (Meeks et. al. 2016).

Such polarized opinions of these policies could stem from the link between
pro-female issues and how individuals view feminism. A recent study done in
2016 shows that negative stereotypes of feminism tend to make voters shy away
from progressive gender issues (Meeks et. al. 2016). This criticism to feminism
has a direct effect on what policies voters are willing to support. Given this
information it is imperative to delve deeper into the topic to see if those
opinions change depending on the candidate gender who is supporting pro-female

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