Popular Science | April 19, 2013
A new study finds women give longer and more confident political speeches when they are exposed to images of female role models
What do women in politics need? Strong female role models.
A new paper in the May issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology suggests that even just seeing images of female role models can help women speak publicly and perform as leaders.
Previous research has found that the presence of female leaders in government has a significant effect on girls' educational goals, and seeing other women in STEM careers can help women want to pursue those careers themselves. However, other studies have found that seeing high-level female leaders can actually make women feel inferior about their own leadership qualities.
To dig deeper, scientists asked 149 students from a Swiss university (81 women, 68 men) to give a persuasive political speech against increasing student fees, within the context of a virtual reality program that put them in front of an audience of six men and six women. For some participants, the back wall of the virtual room featured a hanging picture of Hillary Clinton.