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What Does Hillary Clinton's Defeat Say About the Challenges Facing Female Candidates?

Political scientist Karen Beckwith says women running for office can face the expectation to be both masculine and feminine at the same time.
Political scientist Karen Beckwith says women running for office can face the expectation to be both masculine and feminine at the same time.
Political scientist Karen Beckwith says women running for office can face the expectation to be both masculine and feminine at the same time.
Credit CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY
Political scientist Karen Beckwith says women running for office can face the expectation to be both masculine and feminine at the same time.

The 2016 campaign marked the first time a woman was on the ballot for U.S. president representing one of the two major political parties.

Some analysts believe this year’s unsuccessful bid by Hillary Clinton highlights challenges facing female candidates that their male counterparts do not face.  Karen Beckwith is a political scientist at Case Western Reserve University who specializes in gender and politics.

Beckwith says women are expected to map themselves onto a masculine institution, yet still behave conventionally as women. She says that means being caring and attentive. It also means being aggressive enough to look firm and but not too aggressive so as to seem shrill -- or suggest other unpleasant stereotypes.

Beckwith says the Clinton campaign is a “first start” for women, and the groundwork that’s been laid will provide a firm foundation for female candidates in the future.

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