Study: Sexist insults are highly damaging to women politicians among voters

The survey said the advice often given to women — to ignore the attacks rather than risk giving them more attention or legitimacy — turns out to be wrong. In the study, responding directly helped the female candidate regain lost ground and cost her opponent support.

“I was stunned at the magnitude of the effect of even mild sexism,” says Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who conducted the survey. “Right now campaigns tend to be silent and try to tough it out, and this really opens up a whole new strategy of responding.”…

The female candidate lost twice as much support when even the mild sexist language was added to the attack. Support for her initially measured at 43% fell to 33% after the policy-based attacks but to 21% after the sexist taunts. The drop was significant among both men and women, those under 50 and over 50, and those with college educations and without.