Profs ‘unsettled’ after gender-swap experiment failed to discredit Trump

by WorldTribune Staff, March 10, 2017

Two New York University (NYU) professors who undertook an experiment with the intent of showing the gender bias Hillary Clinton faced in the 2016 election were “unsettled” when the outcome was the opposite of what they expected.

Professors Maria Guadalupe and Joe Salvatore and audiences of the gender-swap mock debates ultimately were baffled when Donald Trump became more likable as a woman and Clinton became even less likable as a man, the NYU News reported.

Several audience members felt they finally understood how Trump won after watching the gender-swapped debates.

“We both thought that the inversion would confirm our liberal assumption — that no one would have accepted Trump’s behavior from a woman, and that the male Clinton would seem like the much stronger candidate,” Salvatore said. “But we kept checking in with each other and realized that this disruption — a major change in perception — was happening. I had an unsettled feeling the whole way through.”

The two sold-out performances of “Her Opponent” took place on the night of Saturday, Jan. 28, just a week after President Trump’s inauguration.

The professors had figured that voters would not have accepted Trump’s aggressive behavior had it come from a woman, and that Hillary’s debate style would be better received if she were a man, the report said.

The actors portraying the candidates in the mock debates “sought to emulate their debate performances exactly, down to gestures and intonation, though it was necessary in some instances to tweak the language to reflect the gender reversal,” the report said.

Salvatore said that several audience members felt they finally understood how Trump won after watching the gender-swapped debate.

“The simplicity of Trump’s message became easier for people to hear when it was coming from a woman,” Salvatore said. He noted the reaction of one female audience member who said the male version of Clinton was “very punchable” because he smiled too much.

“When she [the female version of Trump] was attacking, I had so much respect for her and her level of confidence,” a different female audience member told The New York Times.

“At the time of the debates, I dismissed him as awkward, unskilled, untrained,” Salvatore concluded in an email to the Times. “Now I’m not so sure that I would do that.”