Watching Elections 2016 with a Gender Lens
by Kelly Dittmar, (@kdittmar), Rutgers University
The presence of women candidates in both major parties’ presidential primaries, including a likely woman Democratic nominee, has increased the attention paid to gender dynamics in the 2016 US presidential election. However, the presumption that previous presidential elections—without female prominent contenders— were gender neutral is false: gender dynamics have been at play in all US presidential elections to date. Among its many contributions, Presidential Gender Watch 2016, a nonpartisan project of the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University and the Barbara Lee Family Foundation (BLFF), has illuminated the ways in which gender shapes presidential dialogue, candidate experience, and institutional dynamics. More specifically, the project’s analyses reference scholarly work where possible and demonstrate that gender bias is neither only perpetuated by men nor always employed against women. This article includes a selection of themes evident in Presidential Gender Watch’s On the Bias posts within the first year of the 2016 election (April 2015 to April 2016), excerpting specific examples of bias evident in the election. These findings reveal the myriad ways in which presidential politics are gendered and provide themes worthy of exploring in the remainder of this race and future presidential contests.