News coverage that focuses on the appearance of a woman running for office will affect her campaign negatively, regardless of context, according to a pair of studies released on Monday.
The surveys, commissioned by the Women's Media Center and the political gender-equality group She Should Run, found that respondents thought less of a a female candidate's candidacy after hearing "neutral, positive, and negative descriptions" of her appearance.
"Importantly, the adverse reactions are not isolated to critiques of a woman's appearance," said a summary of findings reported by the Name It. Change It., campaign, a non-partisan joint venture between the two organizations. "Even appearance coverage that purports to be neutral or complimentary damages the woman."
By comparison, male candidates were not affected by depictions of their appearance, the report said.
However, results in each of the two surveys suggested that voters responded positively if a female candidate pushed back against sexist depictions of her in the media or coverage focusing on her appearance.
"The margins for the woman candidate who stands up for herself are the highest she has in the campaign simulation," Name It. Change It. said.
["Serious business woman on Capitol Hill" via Shutterstock]