This paper explores the impact of gender performances on the policy issues that political candidates prioritize during campaigns. Many scholars define partisan affiliation as a stronger factor than gender when influencing policy issue focus. However, the measurement of gender is often conflated with and dependent on biological sex. Relying on an additional examination of gender performativity theory and issue ownership theory, I maintain that gender has independent effects on policy issue priorities. A content analysis of campaign website biography and issue pages reveals that a higher degrees of feminine gender performance on the website of a U.S. Senate candidate (as measured using the Bem Sex Role Inventory) is a significant predictor of greater emphasis on policy issues traditionally associated with women and femininity. Similarly, masculine gender performances indicate that candidates are significantly less likely to prioritize women’s issues; these findings have important implications for the future of campaigning and political gender equality.


van Doorn, Bas

Second Advisor

Ondercin, Heather


Political Science; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


American Politics | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


political campaigns, gender performance, gender and politics, campaign websites, campaign strategy

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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