Competent Enough, But Would You Vote for Her? Gender Stereotypes and Media Influences on Perceptions of Women Politicians


Michelle C. Bligh, School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences, Claremont Graduate University, 123 East Eighth Street, Claremont, CA 91711. E-mail:


Though research has demonstrated that media coverage of men and women politicians differ, fewer studies have examined the dual influence of gender stereotypes and types of media coverage in influencing public perceptions of women politicians. Study 1 (N = 329) examined how pre-existing attitudes toward women leaders and valence of media message impacted perceptions of a woman senator and evaluations of the media source. Study 2 (N = 246) explored how media focus on a woman politician's personality or ability impacted perceptions of her warmth/likability and competence. Results suggest the media has particular influence on judgments of women politicians' likability (the “competent but cold” effect), providing evidence that women politicians need to be vigilant in monitoring their media depictions.