Left: Yuriko Koike (image from BBC) Right: Renhou (image from Share News Japan)

Thursday, December 01, 2016

On November 14 Professor Yoshikuni Ono, a Visiting Professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison from Tohoku University, came to UCLA to give a talk on gender stereotypes in politics. In his lecture he introduced and explained the conjoint survey he conducted in Japan which aimed to isolate the effect gender stereotypes, and a candidate's adherence or non-adherence to them, had on elections and voter preferences.

Survey-takers were provided with two randomly generated candidates, both of whom held a mix of attributes that were either stereotypically "female" or "male" in the three categories of personal traits, issue specialization, and ideological placement. They were then asked who they were most likely to vote for.

After analyzing the results and controlling for confounding factors, Professor Ono concluded that it is always safer for a female candidate not to deviate from gender stereotypes in her campaign. The results showed that female candidates were especially punished for focusing on foreign and economic issues, areas traditionally viewed to be in the "male" domain, over the environment and women's rights, which are issues seen as being "female."

The lecture left the floor open for audience members to ask further questions about Professor Ono's methods, as well as suggest ways of improving his surveys in the future. Professor Ono ended the talk by saying that in his future projects, he would like to include other issues, such as child care and education, into the category of issue specialization, vary the level of office the hypothetical candidate is running for, and include a capability cue, which would distinguish candidates by their experience in certain areas.