When Gender ‘Roles' into the Voting Booth: A Mixed-Methods Study of Implicit Gender Role Theory, Gender System Justification, and Voting Behavior
Implicit gender role theory (IGRT) posits that individuals tend to view gender roles as fixed or malleable, and such beliefs influences the likelihood of justifying the current gender system. Individuals, especially men, who believe gender roles are fixed are more likely to justify the current system. However, research suggests that belief in the malleability of gender roles mitigates the gender different in gender system justification. While much of the research addresses IGRT and its corresponding influence on gender system justification, there is a scarcity of research which addresses its influence on more distal outcomes of gender system justification (e.g., voting behavior). Over the course of two studies, quantitative methodologies examined the influence of IGRT on gender system justification and voter decision making, as well as the potential causal mechanisms of those relationships. Results suggest males and entity theorists are more likely to justify the current gender system and to vote in ways that perpetuate the gender status quo, except when it clearly benefits them. In the third and final study, qualitative methods explored themes among participants’ descriptions of how and why they made voting decisions regarding certain legislation. Results suggest individual views regarding gender roles influence how individuals make decisions about voting on public policy and that this varies by context. Implications regarding public policy and gender role theory are discussed.