Sad but true
Confirming what cynics have long suspected, women are more likely to win public office if they look traditionally feminine, according to a Dartmouth study released Thursday. More shocking though, the study found it was possible to predict whether a candidate would be successful after people assessed her appearance for less than a second.
The study showed 300 people the faces of winning and losing candidates from a decades-worth of Senate and gubernatorial races. Participants were asked to quickly say whether each politician was male or female, and researchers then compared the level of "gender-category competition" — how often participants answered correctly — to election results.
Though the study saw no link between facial sexual ambiguity and male politicians' success, it found that "female politicians who activated the male category to a greater extent received less electoral support." And, the study added, voting behavior could be predicted "only 380 [milliseconds] after the presentation of a female politician's face"
As an interesting aside, the study also found this tendency to be more pronounced in redder states: "[M]ore feminine female politicians... were more likely to win the more traditionally conservative the state."