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Politics & Gender

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While we know that women's presence in the legislature positively impacts how citizens view the institution, little is known about the impact of women's presence on the legitimacy of high courts. We argue that despite differences in public expectations for courts, women's presence on the high court does impact citizen perceptions of legitimacy. However, this effect is dependent on both the level and the type of bias held by citizens. That is, when a person feels hostile bias toward women, the bias disrupts the potential legitimacy that the court could gain. On the other hand, we argue that benevolent sexism does not trigger any change in how citizens view the high court in a democracy. Using evidence from an experiment, we find that the presence of women on the high court has a strong positive impact on citizen perceptions of court legitimacy, though not among those with hostile gender bias.


Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Women, Gender, and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association



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