Nichole Bauer, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Louisiana State University

Year of PhD: 2014

Country: United States (Louisiana)

About Me:

I am an associate professor of political communication in the Department of Political Science and the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University.  I received my PhD in 2014 from Indiana University.

Research Interests

Gender and Politics

Political Psychology

Political Communication

Experimental Research

Research Methods & Research Design

Public Opinion

Political Participation

Gender Stereotypes

Campaign Advertising

Experimental Research

My Research:

My research investigates how political communication shapes how voters evaluate political candidates. I am particularly interested in identifying how and when voters use gender stereotpes to evaluate female political candidates. My research looks at how candidate campaign strategies and the news media influences whether voters use gender stereotypes to make electoral choices about female candidates. I use multiple methods to trace how voters form choices about political candidates including experiments, content analyses, and observational research methods. 


Journal Articles:

(2021) Going Feminine: Identifying How and When Female Candidates Emphasize Feminine and Masculine Traits on the Campaign Trail, Political Research Quarterly

Female candidates face a messaging challenge. There is a strong association between masculinity and political leadership. Stressing masculinity can result in a likability backlash for female candidates often seen as lacking feminine qualities, such as warmth. Preventing a likability backlash by highlighting feminine qualities can also harm female candidates. Current scholarship offers conflicting conclusions about how female candidates balance these gendered challenges. We fill this empirical and theoretical gap with a trait-balancing theory clarifying how and when female candidates use feminine and masculine traits to manage competing expectations. We use original data merging information on candidate advertising strategies across three election cycles. We show that female candidates strategically balance masculine and feminine stereotypes in ways that often differ from their male counterparts but also differ based on female candidate partisanship and incumbency. These results are consequential because they highlight how female candidates manage gendered pressures in campaign strategies, which can affect their ability to win elections and, ultimately, women’s representation in government.

(2020) Women Leaders and Policy Compliance during a Public Health Crisis, Politics and Gender

How does the gender of a political leader affect policy compliance of the public during a public health crisis? State and national leaders have taken a variety of policy measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, with varying levels of success. While many female leaders have been credited with containing the spread of COVID-19, often through implementing strict policy measures, there is little understanding of how individuals respond to public health policy recommendations made by female and male leaders. This article investigates whether citizens are more willing to comply with strict policy recommendations about a public health issue when those recommendations are made by a female leader rather than a male leader. Using a survey experiment with American citizens, we compare individuals’ willingness to comply with policy along three dimensions: social distancing, face covering, and contact tracing. Our findings show that a leader's gender has little impact on policy compliance in general during the pandemic. These findings carry important implications for successful crisis management as well as understanding how a crisis in a nonmasculine issue context influences the effectiveness of a leader's ability to implement measures to mitigate the crisis.

(2020) Shifting Standards: How Voters Evaluate the Qualifications of Female and Male Candidates, Journal of Politics

Existing empirical research finds that female candidates have higher levels of qualifications for political office compared to male candidates. An untested assumption behind this finding is that female candidates must have stronger qualifications to overcome feminine stereotypes that characterize women as ill qualified for leadership positions. I test this assumption by drawing on psychology research to develop a theory that explains how a candidate’s sex affects the way voters evaluate the qualifications of political candidates. Using innovative survey experiments, the results show that, across multiple experiments, voters hold female candidates, relative to male candidates, to more stringent qualification standards, and these higher standards limit the ability of female candidates to secure electoral support. These findings uncover a subtle but pernicious source of bias facing female candidates. The implications speak to how candidate sex affects voter decision-making and the ability of democratic institutions to select the best candidates for leadership.

(2019) A Visual Analysis of Gender Stereotypes in Campaign Ads, Politics Groups and Identities

Extant scholarship offers conflicting conclusions about whether female candidates emphasize feminine or masculine stereotypes in campaigns. We suggest that female candidates use both stereotypes, and do so by varying the use of these stereotypes in the visual and the verbal content of a single message. We measure how candidates vary the use of gender stereotypes in the visual and the verbal message of a single campaign ad. We predict that female candidates will pair feminine visuals with masculine verbal messages. We argue that using visuals to communicate femininity is a subtle way for female candidates to address the “double-bind” that demands female candidates display masculine competency and feminine warmth. With a unique measure, we uncover three key findings. First, female candidates have a higher probability of airing a campaign ad that incorporates feminine visuals compared to male candidates. Second, female candidates are more likely to emphasize feminine visuals relative to masculine visuals. Third, female candidates air campaign ads with a higher degree of visual-verbal conflict pairing feminine visuals with masculine verbal messages. Our research has broad implications for how female candidates overcome gendered expectations. We also show that voters receive “mixed” stereotype messages that can, potentially, affect voter decision-making.

Books Written:

(2020) The Qualifications Gap: Why Women Must Be Better than Men to Win Political Office, Cambridge University Press

What does it take for women to win political office? This book uncovers a gendered qualifications gap, showing that women need to be significantly more qualified than men to win elections. Applying insights from psychology and political science and drawing on experiments, public opinion data, and content analysis, Nichole M. Bauer presents new evidence of how voter biases and informational asymmetries combine to disadvantage female candidates. The book shows that voters conflate masculinity and political leadership, receive less information about the political experiences of female candidates, and hold female candidates to a higher qualifications standard. This higher standard is especially problematic for Republican female candidates. The demand for masculinity in political leaders means these women must "look like men" but also be better than men to win elections.

(2020) Politicking While Female: The Political Lives of Women, LSU Press

Drawing on recent, original data, Politicking While Female examines the life cycle of a woman’s political career. The first section charts the development of political identities that shape women’s participation in politics as voters and as potential candidates, with attention to the patterns of socialization that can discourage women from seeing themselves as political leaders. The next two sections focus on the process of deciding to run for public office, especially the crucial role of mentors, and the challenges female candidates face when campaigning, as they work to raise money, develop effective messages, and overcome voter biases regarding women in leadership roles. The final section explores how women govern once in office, showing the impact of having larger numbers of women in positions of political power.

Media Appearances:

Newspaper Quotes:

(2019) New York Times

Sexism, and double-standards for female candidates.

(2019) 538

Are Americans ready to vote for a woman for president?

(2019) Christian Science Monitor

With so many women running for president, why is focus still on the men?