Bras. Political Sci. Rev.. 25/Jul/2017;11(2):e0001.

Future electoral impacts of having a female mayor

Paulo Arvate, Sergio Firpo, Renan Pieri

DOI: 10.1590/1981-3821201700020001

We explore an electoral quasi-experiment where a woman nearly won or lost to a man in a mayoral election. Our data combines municipal Brazilian election results, which occur every four years, with municipal level votes for female and male candidates in state and federal deputy elections, whose districts are larger than the municipalities. Our results show that when voters are exposed to a female leader, the relative number of votes given to female candidates increases. This result depends on the political environment in which the exposure occurs. These effects on the electorate’s response tend to be stronger: 01. in municipalities where there is a previous higher proportion of female councilors, and 02. when the mayors have higher education levels. Our results provide evidence that the observed electorate’s gender preferences in politics are alterable, but that policy interventions aimed to equalize access will be more effective if they are targeted at underrepresented populations that have the correct skill requirements to perform in leadership positions.

Future electoral impacts of having a female mayor