Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

First Advisor

Ryan E. Carlin, PhD

Second Advisor

Toby Bolsen, PhD

Third Advisor

Sarah Gershon, PhD


While crises of terrorism have often prompted preference for male leadership, COVID-19 poses an ideal situation for examining the impact of gender stereotypes on executive approval in a new type of crisis tied to public health, seen as more of a ‘woman’s domain.’ Employing a survey experiment to examine public perception of male and female political leadership during different types of hypothetical national crises (terrorism v. highly contagious virus), this study ultimately finds that there is not a significant difference in average approval ratings between male and female executives in the virus crisis context, and a small difference with females outperforming men in the terrorist context. This study also reveals a few unexpected findings; while female executives seem to perform well in both crisis contexts, results indicate that male executives receive significantly higher approval in the virus context than in the terrorism context, providing an important avenue for future research.


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