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IPPSR is MSU’s new hub for public policy information and research. Search our summaries of scientific research with implications for public policy by inputting keywords in the search box or selecting options from the menus below.

Policy Research

He Said, She Said: The Impact of Candidate Gender in Negative Campaigns

Stephen C. Craig, Paulina S. Rippere

April 2016

Traditional wisdom stated that female candidates should not negatively attack their political opponents. This is because of a fear that it could create backlash, due to the societal perception that women are more sensitive and should not be assertive. However, this study found that women do not actually suffer significantly more for going negative than men do (though, attacks made by women are slightly less effective than those made by men). When it comes to responses to attacks against themselves, this study found that denial worked best for men and justification worked best for women.

Electoral Institutions and the Manifestation of Bias: The Effect of the Personal Vote on the Representation of Women

Melody Ellis Valdini

February 2013

The “personal vote” is the proportion of a candidate’s support that comes from their own personal qualities, activities, qualifications, and record, rather than their party. As gender is a personal quality, an emphasis on this type of voting may impact women. This study found that the more bias citizens of a particular country have against women, the larger the negative impact the personal vote has on women. Personalizing elections has no effect on women in cultures with little negative stereotypes towards women, but in cultures with heavy bias, this leads to a great reduction in women’s electoral success. However, even when bias is low, there is no instance where personalizing elections has a positive impact on women.

Greening the urban frontier: Race, property, and resettlement in Detroit

Sara Safransky

August 2014

In this journal article, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Professor Sara Safransky details the negative consequences of neoliberal environmentalism in Detroit. Although the Detroit Future City (DFC) plan was heralded as a great victory for sustainability (as were similar plans in other post-industrial US cities), it failed to take into account that 90,000 people lived in the neighborhoods it deemed “empty” “frontiers.” Safransky argues that this word choice is intentional, connoting the white settlers of the old American West, whose disrespect for indigenous claims to land led to genocide. In Detroit in the 21st Century, Safransky sees a type of neo-frontierism, a nefarious means to achieve the positive end of Green and Blue neighborhoods. Although a sustainable environment and energy system are desirous, she argues, displacing poor people of color to achieve these ends just leads to an exacerbation of society’s ills rather than an alleviation of them.

Gender mainstreaming and climate change

Margaret Alston

March 2013

Gender mainstreaming is the process of incorporating gender into any policy, legislation, or action. This process aims to have governments and organizations take gender inequality into account in all areas, rather than just assigning it to a specific women’s policy unit. However, gender mainstreaming tends to do a poor job at actually lessening gender inequalities. This is because governments often use gender mainstreaming as a tool to uphold existing inequalities, rather than a way to achieve radical change, as feminists originally intended. Nevertheless, the author argues that gender mainstreaming does still have the ability to create real change if governments utilize it correctly.

Gender issue in climate change discourse: theory versus reality

Mohammed Abdul Baten , Niaz Ahmed Khan

February 2010

This article outlines how, in the developing world, women are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This is because they are heavily involved in activities that are dependent on natural resources, and cultural factors sometimes prevent women from migrating to seek shelter during natural disasters or to be more likely to risk their own safety in order to help others in such events. Limited access to education also limits women’s access to information about early warning signs and resources during disasters, as well as restricts their ability to share their voice. However, due to their closeness to resource management, women also have the capability to mitigate many of the effects of climate change.

Do Government Positions Held by Women Matter? A Cross-National Examination of Female Ministers' Impacts on Women's Political Participation

Shan-Jan Sarah Liu , Lee Ann Banaszak

July 2016

This article examines both the effects that representation of women in parliament and in cabinet positions has on women’s political participation in parliamentary systems. The researchers found that legislative representation did not have an impact on women’s political participation. However, when cabinet representation increases, so do women’s political participation, especially with activities closely associated with the electoral process (such as voting and party membership). Women were still no more likely to join boycotts or strikes in either scenario, but this makes sense as those actions are costly, controversial, and not closely tied with the electoral process.

Votes for Women: Electoral Systems and Support for Female Candidates

Sona N. Golder, Laura B. Stephenson, Karine Van der Straeten, André Blais, Damien Bol, Philipp Harfst, Jean-François Laslier

January 2017

This article analyzes how different types of electoral rules impact support for female candidates, under proportional representation systems. The researchers found that voters are more likely to vote for women when open party lists are used, rather than closed ones. They also found that having more women on a party list does not hurt parties and, in fact, may even help them in some cases. They found a lack of bias against women from both male and female voters, though women were especially likely to choose female candidates.

Women politicians are more engaging: male versus female politicians’ ability to generate users’ engagement on social media during an election campaign

Moran Yarchi , Tal Samuel-Azran

February 2018

This article analyzes the difference between male and female politician’s abilities to generate user engagement on social media during the week leading up to the 2015 Israeli election. The study found that, despite the fact that male politicians received more salient coverage in the traditional media, Facebook engagement was higher for female politicians, despite the fact that politicians of both sexes post at about equal rates. Both men and women received about the same number of comments on their posts, but women received far more likes and shares.

Virtue and vulnerability: Discourses on women, gender and climate change

Seema Arora-Jonsson

May 2010

This article examines the existing beliefs surrounding women and climate change. Scholars often discuss women in the Global South as being particularly vulnerable to climate change due to increased rates of poverty, while women in the Global North are seen as virtuous and more environmentally conscious than men. This article argues against both those assumptions. Additionally, the author argues that, by making these assumptions about women, a greater burden of responsibility is being put on women to fix the climate crisis, without much material benefit.

Toxic Cities: Neoliberalism and Environmental Racism in Flint and Detroit Michigan

Teressa A. Benz

January 2019

In this article, tinged with moral outrage, Benz details the flawed outcomes of neoliberal policies in Michigan. In particular, she uses the city of Flint (with its lead-poisoned water) and the heavily polluted neighborhood of Boynton in Detroit to showcase how neoliberalism in Michigan has created a hierarchy of value that places corporations at the top and poor people of color at the bottom. Throughout each case study, she views potential solutions through the lens of Alan Freeman’s victim and perpetrator perspectives on justice, arriving at a conclusion that Michigan’s (and America’s) courts and regulatory agencies must be restructured to ensure that all people, equal in the eyes of the law, have the same opportunity at a healthy life.