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Does Gender Still Matter for Politics? The Case of the 2018 U.S. Elections on Twitter

Working paper
Authors Valeriya Mechkova
Steven Wilson
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Political Science
Language en
Keywords Internet and politics, Twitter, Female politicians, Representation, Gender stereotypes
Subject categories Political Science


How do gender norms drive candidate behavior in the #MeToo era? We investigate how previously established gender stereotypes played out on Twitter during the 2018 U.S. elections. We show that female candidates focused more on covering ‘women's issues’ such as health-care, while male candidates – on the traditional ‘male issues’ such as the economy. The age of the candidates, the level of gender equality in electoral districts, and the presence of other women as candidates interacts with the extent to which there is a gender gap in the topics covered by candidates. Second, we find that female candidates are more aggressive on Twitter, and this is not driven by them being newcomers. Finally, we examine whether stereotypes affect women's electoral performance and the likelihood of being harassed online by the public. Talking about male issues decreases the likelihood of women being elected but it does not increase the likelihood of being targeted by angry speech online. Tweeting angrily is also a significant predictor of being elected but female candidates who use angry speech on Twitter, are more likely to receive tweets with abusive language, in particular by other women.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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