Sarah Andrea Fulton

Associate Professor of Political Science, Texas A&M University

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About Sarah

Fulton is an expert in women in politics, specializing in how voters respond to women candidates.  Her work challenges the longstanding perspective that the electorate treats men and women candidates equitably.  Instead, her research demonstrates that women candidates are more likely than men to hold the qualifications that voters value, and shows that this qualifications gap is the reason why women appear to win elections at equal rates as men.  Absent a qualifications advantage, women candidates receive a vote-penalty relative to their male competitors which accounts for more than a dozen losses by women congressional candidates over the past 20 years.  Her work has won several “Best Paper” awards from a variety of national conferences and journal publishers.

In the News

Sarah Andrea Fulton quoted by Katie Leslie, "Trump and Clinton Need Women, but Can They Get Them?" Dallas Morning News, July 28, 2016.
Sarah Andrea Fulton's research on "The Science of Being ‘Top Dog’," National Public Radio, February 25, 2013.
Sarah Andrea Fulton's research on Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, "Why are Men So Foolish?," Salon, February 17, 2013.
Sarah Andrea Fulton's research on "Ron Paul Faces Long Odds, Large Crowds in Texas," The Texas Tribune, April 11, 2012.
Sarah Andrea Fulton quoted by Joshua Keating, "Iron Ladies" Foreign Policy, April 25, 2011.
Sarah Andrea Fulton's research on "Fact Check: Context of Key Debate Claims," USA Today, October 16, 2008.


"When Gender Matters: Macro-Dynamics and Micro-Mechanisms" Political Behavior 36, no. 3 (2014): 605-630.

Using a new dataset from the 2006 congressional elections, this paper confirms that women candidates receive approximately three-percent less vote-share than similarly-qualified men.  When qualifications are held constant, male independent voters have a 23% diminished likelihood of voting for a female candidate than a male candidate.

"Running Backwards and in High Heels: The Gendered Quality Gap and Incumbent Electoral Success" Political Research Quarterly 65, no. 2 (2012): 303-14.

Demonstrates that women candidates have an equal chance of winning as men because they are more likely than men to possess the qualifications that voters seek in their elected representatives.  When men and women are equivalently qualified, women receive a three-percent vote-penalty relative to their male competitors.

"The Sense of a Woman: Gender, Ambition and the Decision to Run for Congress" (with Cherie D. Maestas, L. Sandy Maisel , and Walter J. Stone). Political Research Quarterly 59, no. 2 (2006): 235-48.

Using a sample of state legislators considering running for Congress, this paper finds that women are more likely than men to resist opportunities to run for higher office, until they perceive a good chance of success and view the benefits of running favorably.  Before running for higher office, women are more likely than men to invest in developing the qualifications necessary to win the race, which generates a gap in qualifications.