An interest in the gender gap between the representations of female candidates in U.S. elections compared to their male counterparts led two University of Pittsburgh professors to take the issue into the laboratory for three years of research.
Associate Professors of Political Science Kristin Kanthak and Jonathan Woon have published an article about the first phase of their research findings. "Women Don't Run? Election Aversion and Candidate Entry" was published online Dec. 2 in the American Journal of Political Science.
"Past research has shown that women seem to be under confident in their ability to hold office," Woon said. "We tried to examine scientifically what the factors were in the decision-making process."
Kanthak and Woon enlisted 350 undergraduate Pitt students to participate in the laboratory experiments, which Kanthak said appeared to show women are more "election averse" than men.
Their research was conducted in three phases in the Pittsburgh Experimental Economics Lab in Posvar Hall, an interdisciplinary research center funded by the National Science Foundation and the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. In the first phase, men and women were divided into random groups and given a task of adding up numbers. Participants solved as many addition problems as they wanted in a limited time and were paid for correct answers.