This Study On Sexism In Voting Challenges The Entire Electoral Process

And here's a solution.

Out of the 535 current members of the United States Congress, only 104 are women. While there are numerous factors behind that, a recent study from Vanderbilt University suggests that there might be a surprising reason behind this gender imbalance in our elected officials.

The voting process might be sexist.

This was the result of the study conducted by Vanderbilt Professor Cecilia Hyunjung Mo, who says that our subconscious views female candidates as weak and incapable of leadership.

"In following instructions to sort images rapidly, the mind often balked at accepting a woman as a leader," Mo told Vanderbilt. "The average person found it easier to pair words like 'president' and 'executive' with male names and pictures and words like 'assistant' and 'aide' with female names."

To conduct the study, Mo surveyed 407 participants and used the Implicit Association Test (ITA) to measure their feelings towards female candidates.

The results were eye-opening.

"The more difficulty a person had in classifying a woman as a leader, the less likely the person was to vote for a woman," Mo said to Vanderbilt. "Even when I consider only those who explicitly say that they would support a female candidate, I found that if they have difficulty associating women with leadership attributes, they are less likely to vote for a woman in a noticeable way."

Essentially, the study concluded that female candidates have to be outright more qualified than their male opponents in order to win the election.

But there is a silver lining to this study.

Mo suggested that more information about the candidates on the ballots, beyond name and party affiliation, would even the playing field and make it more fair for female candidates.

(H/T: Science Daily)

Cover image via iStock