Comparative politics lecturer Dr Sofia Collignon has been honoured by the Political Studies Association for her research into how allegations of sexual abuse impact elections.
Dr Collignon was awarded ‘best paper’ by the Association’s peer-reviewed journal, Political Studies Review, for a research article she co-authored with former US Governor staffer Stephanie Stark entitled ‘Sexual Predators in Contest for Public Office’.
This prize-winning publication uses an original survey experiment to analyse the effect that allegations of sexual assault or harassment have on American politicians’ electoral success. Dr Collignon has led significant research into the causes and consequences of gendered political violence, and her co-author works professionally as a political communications adviser.
Overall, the paper found that citizens were less likely to support a candidate accused of sexual assault or harassment, but there were interesting divides across political groups. Democrats were significantly less likely to vote for anyone facing such allegations, whereas Republicans didn’t have such a strong reaction - especially if the candidate in question was a Republican.
Published in Political Studies Review’s August 2022 issue, the article has achieved a record-breaking number of reads and downloads from the journal website (63,204) as well as attracting widespread media coverage everywhere from BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour to Teen Vogue.
Reflecting on the win, Dr Collignon said: “We are very happy and honoured to receive the award. After the #MeToo movement when Trump was elected, we wanted to understand why some voters support candidates accused of sexual harassment. This research is really about integrity in public leadership, with women's voices at the centre of our ability to change politics.”
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