Building a Reputation on National Security: The Impact of Stereotypes Related To Gender and Military Experience

  • Citation: Swers, Michele. "Building a Reputation on National Security: The impact of stereotypes related to gender and military experience." Legislative Studies Quarterly 32.4 (2007): 559-595.
    • Topics:
    • Human Rights
    • Keywords:
    • North America
    • defense policy
    • gender stereotypes
    • leadership

In a post-9/11 world, all senators must establish their national security credentials with voters. Yet senators do not compete for leadership on an equal basis. Through an analysis of bill sponsorship, Sunday talk show appearances, and interviews with Senate staff, I demonstrate that defense policy is made in a partisan and gendered context. Gender stereotypes favoring male defense leadership create an additional hurdle for women, particularly Democratic women, as they seek to establish their reputations on security. By contrast, a record of military service facilitates senators’ efforts to achieve action on their proposals and gain media attention for their views.

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