An experimental study of the role of gender in selecting third-party mediators in crisis resolution

Scott Sigmund Gartner, John Bangerter, Zackary Goncz, Michelle Sarver, Natalie Schreffler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The absence of women as international crisis mediators (especially as team leaders) is well documented. This chapter examines how disputants hostility interacts with gender to influence third-party mediator selection. Men are stereotypically seen as warriors suggesting that people might want male mediators if they expect a tough fight. Women have long been perceived as more empathetic, making them more likely to be perceived as sympathetic to unfairness. An experimental study of over 390 subjects finds that when an adversary is more hostile, people strongly prefer male mediators. The stakes, however, and thus unfairness, do not play a role. Previous studies show that, compared to other forms of dispute management such as bilateral negotiations, third-party mediation is more likely to be employed in hostile disputes. Therefore, part of the preference for male mediators may derive from a gendered preference for mediators in hostile situations, a dynamic we call conditional sexism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook On Mediating International Crises
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781788110709
ISBN (Print)9781788110693
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • General Social Sciences


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