Issue Saliency and Gender Stereotypes: Support for Women as Presidents in Times of War and Terrorism


  • *Direct correspondence to Erika Falk, 1717 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Ste. 104, Washington, DC 20036. The authors will share coding information with those who wish to replicate the study. The data may be obtained from the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The authors thank Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, for providing the resources for this project. In addition, they thank the reviewers for their comments and suggestions, which have strengthened the article.


Objective. This article examines how issue saliency affects the public's perceptions of whether a man or a woman would make a better president when considering the most important problem facing the nation.

Method. The study uses telephone survey data of adults in the United States collected by the Annenberg Public Policy Center in September 2003. Multinominial logistic regression models were conducted to parse out the effects of issue saliency on presidential gender preference while taking demographic characteristics and party identification into account.

Results. People who said that terrorism, homeland security, and/or U.S. involvement in Iraq was the most important problem facing the nation were more likely to say that a man would do a better job handling the issue as president.

Conclusion. This study finds that issue saliency affects presidential gender preference above and beyond demographic and party identification variables.