Why don’t women run for office? Less confidence and encouragement
Well-qualified women are less likely than their male counterparts to consider running for public office because women do not perceive themselves as qualified and do not receive as much encouragement as men, according to a new study by political scientists at Brown University and Union College.
Despite the fact that women perform as well as men in terms of campaign fundraising and vote totals, they remain severely under-represented in U.S. political institutions. Gender disparities are apparent at the national, state and local levels: Men account for 86 percent of the members of Congress, 86 percent of state governors, 88 percent of big-city mayors, and 78 percent of state legislators.
“If women win elections at equal rates as men, why do there remain so few women candidates?” asked Jennifer L. Lawless, assistant professor of political science and public policy at Brown University. “Gender plays a substantial role in the candidate emergence process.”
Lawless and Richard L. Fox, associate professor of political science at Union College, surveyed and spoke to more than 3,700 lawyers, business leaders, executives, educators and political activists during the last two years – women and men who work in professions that typically precede a political candidacy. The Citizen Political Ambition Study was the first broad-based national sample of potential candidates for all levels of public office.
The impact of self-perceived qualifications on a woman’s decision to run was nearly double that of men. Surprisingly, although many of those surveyed had attained success in male-dominated professions, women were twice as likely as men to rate themselves “not at all qualified” to run for office. Men were about two-thirds more likely than women to consider themselves “qualified” or “very qualified” to run for office.
Women were also significantly less likely than men to think they would win their first race. Only 25 percent of female potential candidates, compared to 37 percent of males, thought that an electoral victory would be “likely” or “very likely.”
Not only did they not think themselves qualified, women received less encouragement to run than men. Thirty-two percent of women, compared to 43 percent of men, received the suggestion to run for office from either someone involved in the political arena or within their personal life. Such encouragement often more than doubled the likelihood of considering a candidacy.
Across all factors – age, party affiliation, income and profession – women were significantly less likely than men to express interest in seeking public office. Among women, there were some interesting differences:
- Women with higher incomes were more likely to consider a candidacy than women with lower incomes. Men were as likely to consider running for office across all income levels.
- Women with more responsibilities for household tasks were less interested in holding office. Forty-eight percent of the women whose partner was responsible for the majority of the household labor had considered running for office, compared to 33 percent of women who were responsible for the majority of tasks. There was no difference for men.
- When women did think of running, they were more likely to be interested in local-level politics. Just one office attracted substantially more interest from women than men: the local school board.
“These results suggest that we are a long way from a political reality in which women and men are equally likely to aspire to attain high-level elective office,” said the researchers.
Yet the findings offer some direction. The number of women who said they would definitely be interested in running for office “someday” was equal to that of men. Women also viewed the activities associated with campaigning as positively as men. Those included such things as attending fundraisers, dealing with party officials, going door-to-door to meet constituents, dealing with the press, and devoting time to running for office.
The research was funded by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center, the Center for American Women and Politics, the Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society, Union College, and Stanford University.
Many of these results are included in a forthcoming article “Entering the Arena? Gender and the Decision to Run for Office,” in the April 2004 American Journal of Political Science. The article is currently available online at www.ajps.org/forthcoming_articles.html.
Kristen Cole | Brown University
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...