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

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.