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External threat environments and individual bias against female leaders

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2021

Nam Kyu Kim*
Department of Political Science and International Relations, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Alice J. Kang
Department of Political Science, Institute for Ethnic Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:


We argue that a country's international security context influences individual bias against female leaders and propose three mechanisms: by increasing individual demand for defense, by shaping individual ideological orientations, and by increasing society's level of militarization. Using survey data of more than 200,000 individuals in 84 countries, we show the more hostile the country's security environment, the more individuals are likely to agree that men make better political leaders than do women. We also find support for some of our proposed mechanisms and that the effect of security environments is greater for men than women. Our study presents the first cross-national evidence that the country's international security environment correlates with bias against women leaders.

Original Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the European Political Science Association

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