MHC professor weighs in on gender in debates

Elizabeth Markovits

Sexism informs how male politicians speak to female politicians, said Elizabeth Markovits,  associate professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College. It also informs how male and female politicians sound to listeners during debates.

Markovits, an expert in truth in political speech, noted in a recent article on Bustle.com that male politicians can easily revert to a style she calls “hyper-sincerity” and appear more frank and honest than their female counterparts.

The article states that during the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the fact-checking website Politifact rated 27 of Clinton's statements as false—and 89 of Trump's statements as false. Yet Clinton is the candidate who is perceived to be struggling with issues of trustworthiness and honesty.

Clinton’s perceived over-preparedness and practiced public speaking style make people think she’s less trustworthy, like Hermione in the Harry Potter books, Markovits said.

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