Research suggests that online harassment is a large reason women are less likely to run for election or reelection, reports Frettablaðið.
Students at Bifröst University wanted to understand why women are less likely than men to run for reelection, so they conducted a series of qualitative interviews across the country. The study found that online harassment of elected women is more severe than the online harassment of elected men.
Some women stated that they did not participate in public forums or discussions online because they feared their words would be twisted. These online platforms should be a helpful tool for elected officials, but they are proving to be harmful instead.
“What emerged was that women found the rules of the game [online were] unclear and that they were therefore hesitant to participate,” says student researcher, Einar Freyr Elínarson.
“The results also indicated that there was no support service in the administration of the municipalities to which they belonged for elected representatives who were subjected to negative publicity or harassment,” says Einar Freyr. Instead, women had to rely on family, friends, or other representatives for support. These systems have opportunities to reform to be more supportive and less tolerant of harassment.
The researchers also found that childbearing and families contributed to high turnover. Women are forced to choose between being subjected to harassment within a civil service career or raising a family.
“The interviewees who are not standing for reelection indicated that the reduced time they had for family time had an impact,” states the research summary.
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