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New Study: Appearance Not a Factor in Electability

Voter attitudes not impacted

WHO:   Jennifer Lawless, professor of Government and director of American University’s Women & Politics Institute
Danny Hayes, assistant professor of Political Science, George Washington University.

Lawless and Hayes available for interviews and prepared to debate Name It. Change It.

July 17 - ongoing

American University, in-studio, via telephone

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 17, 2013) — Do the media spend more time focusing on female candidates’ appearance than that of men? Does such coverage affect voter attitudes? Do women pay a higher price than men for this coverage? Two recent studies arrived at opposite conclusions. Name It. Change It. claims that candidate appearance is a determining factor. Professors Jennifer Lawless, director of American University’s Women & Politics Institute, and Danny Hayes, of George Washington University, however, conducted their own study and produced results that refute Name It. Change It.’s conclusions. The Lawless and Hayes results provoked a strong reaction from Name It. Change It. 

Lawless and Hayes found in their national sample of 961 adults that women are not held to a higher standard for their appearance versus men. Unflattering media coverage of a candidate seems to affect male and female candidates equally, rather than disproportionately. Moreover, they find that female congressional candidates are not systematically more likely than men to receive such coverage. In fact, appearance coverage affects only a tiny proportion of the coverage of all candidates. Details about the study, and why their results differ from Name It Change It’s, can be found in their article from the Poli-Sci Perspective, the weekly Wonkblog on

Professors Lawless and Hayes are available for interviews and would be willing to discuss and defend their methodology. They are also happy to engage with representatives from Name It. Change It. to settle the effect appearance plays (or doesn’t) when female candidates run for office.

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