Women have come a long way in political leadership very quickly. Since 1971, the number of women serving in state legislatures has more than quintupled, and more women are expressing interest in running than every before. But women are still vastly underrepresented at the federal and state level. The reasons why range from limited recruitment to family obligations to self-doubt, and the repercussions of their lack of representation are felt across policy decisions that affect all levels of government.
WHY WOMEN DON'T RUN
Lack of Support
AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL
Women hold 127 of the 535 seats in the 116th U.S. Congress
Women hold 25 of the 100 seats in the Senate
Women hold 102 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who was the first woman Speaker of the House, resumes her role as Speaker of the House.
AND WHY THEY SHOULD
Lack of Recruitment
Fear of Sexism
Women are more likely to see themselves as unqualified. Even when they're equally or more qualified than comparable men, who do believe they're qualified.
Women are less likely to be approached than men to run for office.
The support networks that provide introductions, funding, and endorsements are often closed to new faces and new kinds of faces.
Women frequently cite wanting to avoid the treatment they see of female candidates on a national stage.
Study after study shows that women are more likely to reach across the aisle, are embroiled in far fewer corruption scandals and introduce more, bolder proposals.
New perspectives in office means new ideas, especially around issues affecting women and families, and women introduce more new legislation generally than men.
Women who do run win just as often as as male candidates, at all levels of government
More Collaboration, Less Corruption, and Bolder Proposals
Women Are Just as Likely to Win
AT THE STATE LEVEL
Women hold 75 of 312 elective executive offices across the country. Among these women, 32 are Democrats, 42 are Republicans and 1 is non-partisan
1,840 of the 7,383 state legislators in the United States are women.
Women hold 1,398 of the 5,411 state house seats.
Women hold 442 of the 1,972 state senate seats.
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Our Favorite Books
A Woman's Place is in the House, Barbara Burrell
Gender and Elections: Shaping the Future of American Politics, Susan Carroll and Richard L. Fox
Madam President: Women Blazing the Leadership Trail, Eleanor Clift and Tom Brazaitas
Participation and Protest: Women and Politics in a Global World, Sarah Henderson and Alana Jeydel
It Still Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don't Run for Public Office, Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox
Women and Elective Office: Past, Present and Future, Sue Thomas and Clyde Wilcox
Running as a Woman: Gender and Power in American Politics, Linda Witt, Karen Paget and Glenda Matthews