Getting to Know Her: Information and Gender Bias in Preferential Voting Systems

Getting to Know Her: Information and Gender Bias in Preferential Voting Systems

Daniel M. Smith - Associate Professor of Government, Harvard University

Friday, September 29, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Room 202, Henry R. Luce Hall See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511

In low-information elections, voters may rely on gender stereotypes when evaluating female candidates relative to male candidates, and this may hinder women’s electoral success. In this study, we evaluate the impact of information on voter support for female candidates with a survey experiment conducted during the 2016 election for Japan’s House of Councillors, which includes a nationwide open-list proportional representation contest. We also consider the effect of compulsory preference voting, which may counteract gender-based inequalities in participation, as well as incentivize voters to seek out or utilize information on female candidates. Our results indicate that providing information about candidates, as well as making preference voting compulsory, significantly increases support for female candidates.

Daniel M. Smith is an associate professor of comparative politics in the Department of Government at Harvard University, where he is also an affiliated faculty member at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, and the Institute for Quantitative Social Science. 

Smith’s research focuses on the impact of political institutions, especially electoral systems and candidate selection processes, on aspects of democratic representation and behavior in Japan and Western Europe. He also studies Japanese politics more broadly. His book, Dynasties and Democracy: The Inherited Incumbency Advantage in Japan (forthcoming from Stanford University Press), explores the causes and consequences of political dynasties in democracies, with a particular focus on Japan.

Sponsored by The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership