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Corruption, accountability, and gender: do female politicians face higher standards in public life?

January 2020

Andrew C. Eggers, Nick Vivyan, Markus Wagner


This article investigates whether female politicians face harsher punishment for corrupt behavior than males. The researchers found that voters punish misconduct about equally for men and women. However, female voters were more likely to punish corrupt politicians than male voters. Women were especially likely to punish other women, while the gender of the politician had no effect on male voters.

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Policy Implications

The article suggests that women react more strongly to female politicians because they hold them to a higher standard, and because of a preconceived notion that women are more honest. The study was performed on UK voters, and the researchers believe that similar results to those found in the study would be found in real UK elections (with voters, perhaps, even reacting less strongly). However, gender effects would likely be greater in other places, such as the US, where elections are more personal in nature.

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