Dismantling the Patriarchy One "Pinkie Promise" At a Time: Women, Vicarious Learning and Female Politicians As Role Models

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University of Alabama Libraries

Senator Elizabeth Warren's and Vice President Kamala Harris' direct appeals to young girls inspired this dissertation's focus. Is it possible that their appeals, their attempts to challenge established gender norms of who should occupy the presidential office, will be successful in inspiring a new generation of women to not only seek elected office, but also to lend support to and vote for female candidates? This dissertation looked to examine how the recent increase in well-known female candidates may impact American women. Inspired by the work of scholars like Hayes and Lawless (2016), who studied whether gender bias continues to limit female candidates' electability, this dissertation examined whether challenges by women — on both ends of the political spectrum — to existing gender and sex-based stereotypes can be successful in "teaching" women to believe that a woman's place is in the White House. Using a cross-sectional, analytical survey-based method that also included open-ended qualitative questions, the goal of this research was to analyze women' beliefs about women in leadership at a time when they are more visible than ever. The findings of this study provide evidence that continues to support Bussey and Bandura's (1999) Triadic Reciprocal Causation model. Findings provide evidence that support how each "arm" in the triadic causation model — behavior, personal characteristics, and environmental factors — work together to influence one another. The data suggest it is clear women are willing to help other women succeed in politics, but reservations about whether women can be successful and how they will be treated should they try to be, continue to persist.

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