Article

Do Parties Know That 'Women Win'? Party Leader Beliefs About Women's Electoral Chances

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Abstract

Women's groups emphasize the view that women are viable candidates in American politics with the popular slogan “when women run, women win.” What do party leaders believe about women's electoral chances? Do parties know that “women win”? In an analysis of state legislative election results, I find few gender differences in candidates' vote share and success rates—two widely used measures of the status of women candidates. Yet I find that many party leaders report that one gender has an electoral advantage. These party leader perceptions are related to the objective measures of women's electoral success to some extent. However, most analyses reveal a gap between elite perceptions and objective measures of women's status as candidates. This disjuncture suggests that scholars may have overestimated the extent of party leader and voter support for women. a

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... Although the research was inspired by the supply and demand arguments of women and visible minority representation in electoral politics, many socioeconomic and political factors can count as both supply-side and demand-side factors. One example is occupation; it counts as a supply-side factor in terms of contributing to the economic status of candidates, and as a demand-side factor as parties have a higher demand for and actively recruit candidates who belong to traditional professional networks in business, legal, or non-profit sectors (Sanbonmatsu 2006). Therefore, I will consider factors known to impact electoral representation from both sides of the arguments and analyze whether some of these factors contribute more to explaining the underrepresentation of women and visible minorities in Vancouver's municipal elections compared to others. ...
... According to some scholars, given an opportunity to compete for the same office under equitable background and circumstances, women have as good of a chance at winning as men (Black and Erickson 2000, Burrell 1994, Sanbonmatsu 2006, Spicer et al. 2017, Wicks and Lang-Dion 2007. The problem of underrepresentation of women and visible minorities stems from the lower number of such candidates. ...
... Research has repeatedly shown that candidates who have higher socioeconomic status reap more advantages when running for office since they are not deterred by the costs and requirements necessary for electoral campaigns Erickson 2000, Putnam 1976). Political candidates often come from legal, business, or non-profit professional backgrounds (Sanbonmatsu 2006). Black and Erickson (2000) also state a compensation model. ...
Thesis
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The 2018 municipal elections highlighted that visible minorities, particularly visible minority women, are underrepresented in Vancouver’s politics; yet, in terms of population, visible minorities outnumber white Vancouverites. I examine to what extent and how socioeconomic and political factors derived from the supply and demand literature contribute to the underrepresentation or lack thereof of women and visible minorities. A supply-side problem results in the lack of women and minority representation when there are not enough “qualified” women and visible minorities running for office. A demand-side problem occurs when party officials act as gatekeepers discouraging women and visible minorities from running for office. I answer this question using a combination of the statistical analysis of secondary data on candidates from 2005 to 2018 and a content analysis of data derived from semi-structured interviews with incumbent city councilors and municipal party officials involved in candidate recruitment. Results show that women are not underrepresented in the Vancouver city council. In fact, women have the best chance of winning as long as they are white women. Visible minorities are underrepresented because there are not enough “qualified” visible minority candidates running. Those who run not only have less socioeconomic resources than white candidates but also experience party officials serving as gatekeepers.
... Some argue that the supply factor is most linked to such underrepresentation (Bochel and Denver 1983, Erickson 1997, Fox and Lawless 2004, Norris and Lovenduski 1993, Norris and Lovenduski 1995. Those who favor the supply side argument believe that contrary to the popular belief that men tend to do better when running for office against women, if given an opportunity to compete for the same office under equitable background and circumstances, women have as good of a chance at winning as men (Black and Erickson 2000, Burrell 1994, Sanbonmatsu 2006, Spicer et al. 2017, Wicks and Lang-Dion 2007. The main argument is not that there are no "qualified" women and minorities, but that these individuals choose not to run. ...
... Evidence has shown that most electoral races tend to favor incumbents who are usually white, male or both; incumbents enjoy the advantage of often being reelected and many incumbents in political offices are men (Burrell 1994, Desposato and Petrocik 2003, Sanbonmatsu 2006, Spicer et al. 2017. This results in political parties' gatekeeping visible minorities and women from entering politics. ...
... Candidates' occupations are coded into four different categories. Literature has shown that political candidates often come from legal, business, or nonprofit professional backgrounds (Sanbonmatsu 2006). Individuals working in these industries are also known to be recruited more for, or at least, have more networking access to political candidacy (Sanbonmatsu 2006). ...
Conference Paper
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The 2017 and 2018 municipal elections highlighted that visible minorities, particularly visible minority women, are underrepresented in Vancouver's politics; yet, in terms of population, visible minorities outnumber white Vancouverites. I examine to what extent and how supply-side factors contribute to this underrepresentation of visible minorities. A supply-side problem results in the lack of women and minority representation when there are not enough "qualified" women and visible minorities running for office. I answer this question using the statistical analysis of secondary data on city councilor candidates in the 2017 and 2018 Vancouver municipal elections. Particularly, I run t-tests on the supply variables by gender and by visible minority status respectively. I also run three logistics regression models predicting candidates' chances of being elected as a city councilor in 2017 and 2018. Based on my results, I draw conclusions about how parties in Vancouver, and potentially urban cities with similar demographics, can strive towards a more representative municipal government.
... Few studies systematically explore what occurs in this process for women. Some scholars have studied the various forms of recruitment on women's political ambition and likelihood of running for political office, including political party recruitment (Broockman 2014;Lawless 2012;Sanbonmatsu 2006Sanbonmatsu , 2010Shames et al. 2020), recruitment by women's groups (Rozell 2000), and local feminist electoral activism (Marshall 2002). In particular, the "gender-conscious recruitment, training, financing, and organizational support help women reach office" (Burrell 1994;Carroll 1994;Cook, Thomas, and Wilcox 1994;Duerst-Lahti 1998;Rozell 2000;Sanbonmatsu 2015a, 139). ...
... In particular, the "gender-conscious recruitment, training, financing, and organizational support help women reach office" (Burrell 1994;Carroll 1994;Cook, Thomas, and Wilcox 1994;Duerst-Lahti 1998;Rozell 2000;Sanbonmatsu 2015a, 139). However, women are less likely than men to be recruited to run for office by political elites (Butler and Preece 2016;Crowder-Meyer 2011Fox and Lawless 2010;Lawless and Fox 2010;Niven 1998;Sanbonmatsu 2006). ...
... they are still not the party's favored candidates. In fact, party leaders and mainstream women's groups are less likely to recruit women of color to run for office (Kreitzer and Osborn 2018;Sanbonmatsu 2006;Shah, Scott, and Juenke 2019). Moreover, women of color rather than experiencing the compliment of being sought by political gatekeepers to run for office as party loyalists are more likely to encounter negative recruitment in which party officials or leaders act to discourage women of color from running for office (Carroll and Sanbonmatsu 2013). ...
Article
Pundits and scholars alike point to recent elections as evidence of a changing American electorate with women of color (WOC) at the center of creating a more diverse electorate. Similarly, we are also witnessing an increase in WOC seeking political office at all levels. We focus on the apparatuses driving increased participation of WOC in these aspects of electoral politics. We argue that much of the growth in WOC voting and running as candidates for public office stem from strategic networks of WOC-centered mobilizations working to extend democratic inclusion. We build a framework to theorize the interconnected relationships of these groups and depict the complex ecosystem of WOC formations in operation as they cultivate a more diverse electorate and candidate base simultaneously. Specifically, we focus on WOC-centered groups during the 2020 election cycle, providing a typology of political activism based upon the types of labor they contribute to the democratic process.
... Scholars have long recognized the importance of local party elites in the conduct of elections (Crowder-Meyer 2011;Katz and Eldersveld 1961;Sanbonmatsu 2006). Local partisans can act as support networks that connect candidates to crucial donors, interest groups, and other sympathetic actors (Koger, Masket, and Noel 2009). ...
... Juenke and Shah (2016) suggest that underrecruitment may contribute to underrepresentation of minority groups in legislatures, though Lawless (2012) finds that potential African American candidates reported higher rates of elite recruitment. Sanbonmatsu's (2006) survey of state legislative leaders yielded little evidence of a belief among party elites that candidates' gender affects their likelihood of winning, though women leaders in particular were more likely to feel that there are districts in which a woman candidate would face a particularly hard path. Survey evidence from the Citizen Political Ambition panel suggests that women report being recruited at a lower rate Lawless and Fox 2010). ...
... Similarly, chairs may view candidates who share their own characteristics as more appealing to their base. Conversely, it is also possible that women and minority chairs tend to overestimate the electoral challenges that their fellow women and/or minority candidates face (Sanbonmatsu 2006). If so, then chairs who are women and/or racial minorities may downgrade the chances of candidates who share their characteristics. ...
... A considerable, and growing, body of research from Canada (Pruysers and Blais, 2017;Pruysers andBlais, 2018a, 2018b), the United States (Holman and Schneider, 2018;Fox and Lawless, 2010;Lawless and Fox, 2005) and the United Kingdom (Allen and Cutts, 2018) reveals that men are significantly more interested in a political career than women and that women are significantly less confident in their political abilities and qualifications. Importantly, these gender gaps in ambition are coupled with the fact that women tend to respond less positively to recruitment efforts than men and that party recruiters have been shown to hold stereotypical views regarding the political acumen of women candidates (Sanbonmatsu, 2006). ...
... Recent evidence from the United States suggests that when candidate quality is taken into account, women may face a small disadvantage from voters (see, for example, Fulton 2012Fulton , 2014. Moreover, there are still widespread misconceptions about women performing poorly at the ballot box, a view that is held by the public and many party officials (Sanbonmatsu, 2006; see also Pruysers and Blais, 2017). 11 The difference between formal rules and informal practices highlights the importance of collecting this kind of survey data, as it allows us to consider actual party behaviour rather than simply relying on party statutes. ...
Article
It is well established that political parties play a key role as gatekeepers to elected office. This article explores the local determinants of a diverse candidate pool. In particular, we seek to uncover the district- or riding-specific party factors that are related to women's participation in the parties’ candidate nomination stages. That is, why do some nomination races in a party have no women contestants, while others have many? Using data from an original survey of party constituency association presidents, as well as extensive nomination data from Elections Canada, we demonstrate that a number of local factors are related to the presence of women contesting a party's nomination. Local party associations with a woman serving as president, as well as associations that hold earlier and longer nominations, are significantly more likely to see a woman enter the contest. The results are important since they call attention to what parties do at the grassroots level, as well as highlight practical solutions for parties seeking to have more diversity in their candidate pool.
... Some answers can be found on the institutional level, such as the daunting travel distance to Harrisburg (Silbermann 2015) and the professionalism and full-time operation of the General Assembly (Thomas 1996). Some blame likely belongs with the state's traditional political culture (Hill 1981) and, in particular, the parties' traditional political culture (Freeman 1986), which certainly contributes to: (1) issues surrounding demand for female candidates (Sanbonmatsu 2002;Crowder-Meyer 2013; also both Brown and Weikert in this issue); (2) the likelihood that women in the state see themselves as potential candidates (Fox and Lawless 2005; Sweet-Cushman 2018); and (3) whether voters have an affinity for female candidates (Sanbonmatsu 2006;Dolan 2014;Bauer 2015). ...
... Some answers can be found on the institutional level, such as the daunting travel distance to Harrisburg (Silbermann 2015) and the professionalism and full-time operation of the General Assembly (Thomas 1996). Some blame likely belongs with the state's traditional political culture (Hill 1981) and, in particular, the parties' traditional political culture (Freeman 1986), which certainly contributes to: (1) issues surrounding demand for female candidates (Sanbonmatsu 2002;Crowder-Meyer 2013; also both Brown and Weikert in this issue); (2) the likelihood that women in the state see themselves as potential candidates (Fox and Lawless 2005; Sweet-Cushman 2018); and (3) whether voters have an affinity for female candidates (Sanbonmatsu 2006;Dolan 2014;Bauer 2015). ...
Article
The Editor’s Note provides an introduction to the topic of women and Pennsylvania politics. It also provides an overview of the articles in issue 21:1.
... A growing body of survey and experimental work indicates that voters are willing to support female candidates (Burrell 1996;Seltzer, Newman and Leighton 1997;Lawless 2004;Dolan 2014;Aguilar, Cunow, and Desposato 2015;Wylie 2018;Schwarz, Hunt, and Coppock 2018). Nevertheless, there is still a widespread belief that voters prefer male candidates (Sanbonmatsu 2006;Lawless and Fox 2010;McElroy and Marsh 2011;Bateson 2020). Sanbonmatsu (2006) finds that in the U.S. some party leaders are overly pessimistic about women's chances. ...
... Nevertheless, there is still a widespread belief that voters prefer male candidates (Sanbonmatsu 2006;Lawless and Fox 2010;McElroy and Marsh 2011;Bateson 2020). Sanbonmatsu (2006) finds that in the U.S. some party leaders are overly pessimistic about women's chances. If party elites believe that female candidates will face an electoral penalty, they may be less willing to provide them campaign resources. ...
Article
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Political parties shape electoral outcomes by determining who stands for election and what campaign resources they have at their disposal. The introduction of gender quotas have led party leaders to nominate more women candidates, however, those women disproportionately lose. We contend that one of the reasons that women routinely lose is because party elites withhold the campaign resources necessary to mount an effective campaign. In this paper, we test this resource gatekeeping argument using data on the provision of campaign resources in Brazil. We analyze the distribution of three different types of party resources: candidate identification numbers, financial support, and television airtime. Our findings show that party elites provide female candidates less advantageous candidate identification numbers, less financial support, and less media access than they provide male candidates. Importantly, we do not find that gender gaps in campaign contributions are attributable to differences in candidate quality. This finding suggests that even when women are recruited to run for office, party elites may still undermine their electoral prospects.
... Less work has considered the long-term processes between individuals and organizations that lead to candidate emergence. This research has tended to focus on party leaders recruiting candidates (e.g., Karpowitz et al., 2017;Norris, 1997;Sanbonmatsu, 2006;Smith, 2018). However, non-partisan organizations also shape candidate emergence by providing individuals with knowledge relevant to campaigns, confidence in their ability to win elections, and exposure to governance processes (Lundin et al., 2016). ...
Article
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Organizations play a critical role in developing citizen political participation. Though unions are one of the few organizations focused on the social and economic well-being of the less advantaged in America, little is known about the processes and mechanisms by which they promote the political participation of workers. We use data from semi-structured interviews with teacher candidates for state office in the 2018 midterm elections to describe how their unions shaped their political engagement and their candidacies in particular. We find that teachers’ unions acted as “schools of democracy” in a series of three developmental stages revolving around (1) political awareness (knowledge, skills, and political identities), (2) political ambition (political efficacy and mobilization), and (3) political support (material resources and political capital). Our qualitative approach allows us to “peer into the black box” of candidate emergence to detail the long-term and often hidden mechanisms that enable unions to promote the political engagement of their members. We extend prior research on political organizations by illuminating how organizations help candidates—particularly those from underrepresented groups—develop their political skills, foster interest in public office, and ultimately support their campaigns.
... Furthermore, electoral gatekeepers may be inclined to recruit women more frequently for these offices if they both seem them as a more natural fit and recognize (either consciously or subconsciously) that their attributes are likely to make them more successful. That I find that the stereotypes held for generic offices both tend to be more agentic than communal seems to suggest that gatekeepers may presume women are not a good fit for either office, a consideration that has been wellestablished in the candidate recruitment scholarship (Sanbonmatsu, 2006;Butler & Preece, 2016;Doherty et al., 2019). ...
Article
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Different stereotypes exist for women politicians in a way that is not true for men; a difference that may affect voter evaluations. While some research concludes that these stereotypes disadvantage women candidates, other findings suggest there is no effect, or that women may have some advantages. I employ three unique experiments to offer insight to this disconnect, expanding the knowledge of stereotypes about the goals of legislative vs. executive offices and female politicians in these roles. This analysis provides insight into how the type of office matters, sharpening our understanding of gender stereotypes in candidate evaluation. I find that stereotypes of women in these offices are unique from those of an ungendered officeholder or male officeholders and stereotypes of women are vastly positive, but that these positive stereotypes never equate to an electoral feminine advantage and may penalize a woman with traits counter to the stereotype of the office.
... This refers to whether an electoral system allocates seats in proportion to votes that are received (proportional representation; PR) or based on candidates or parties winning at least a plurality of votes (majoritarian or plurality systems). Empirically, numerous studies have shown that countries with PR systems, such as Belgium/Flanders, have significantly more women in office than majoritarian systems, all else equal (Caul, 1999;Norris, 1985Rule, 1987;Sanbonmatsu, 2006). This is even reinforced by the existence of electoral gender quotas, which are absent in the American system. ...
... Cultural barriers include patriarchal social norms held by voters about who is a legible and acceptable leader (Conway, 2001) and negative gendered stereotypes (Schneider & Bos, 2014). Finally, institutional barriers may refer to the type of electoral system, some of which are more friendly to nontraditional candidates than others (Crowder-Meyer, Gadarian, & Trounstine, 2015), or political gatekeepers' lack of support for women (Niven, 1998;Sanbonmatsu, 2006;Crowder-Meyer, 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
Hundreds of training and support programs for women political candidates have emerged in the United States as increasing numbers of women run for elected office. Drawing on two years of ethnographic research with Republican and Democratic programs, I outline how the groups not only provide skills training but also function as supportive social networks that propel women into leadership, toeing the line between rethinking what leadership looks like and encouraging participants to adopt entrenched practices that reflect existing gendered norms. A qualitative investigation shows that the “sisterhood” created through training is a crucial support system for alumnae, less robust but perhaps particularly important for Republican women whose party leaders and institutions are less willing to support women as an identity group. Training networks vary in the amount of support and resources they can provide, but program alumnae across the board seek to help each other socially, emotionally, and materially with advising, mentorship, volunteering, and fundraising. By helping participants band together to propel each other into elected office, women’s candidate training organizations can serve as substitutes for elite traditional fundraising and mentorship “boys’ club” networks. They are an increasingly important mechanism through which members of historically excluded communities can gain power.
... Women, compared to men, tend to devalue their own skills and experiences and are less likely to see themselves as credible candidates for office (Fox and Lawless 2005;Moore 2006;Windett 2014). Women are also less likely to be recruited for political office Lawless 2005, 2010;Sanbonmatsu 2006) and tend to run for office later in life (Thomas, Herrick, and Braunstein 2002;Windett 2014). ...
Article
This article investigates the role of gender and elections in shaping the size of legislators’ policy agendas in Congress. Despite the increase in women who hold elective office, perceptions of political leadership are still associated with male traits and stereotypes. As female legislators seek to gain influence in Congress and work to represent their constituents, they develop comprehensive legislative agendas. In their quest for higher office, men in Congress expand the size of their legislative agendas, but their female colleagues, armed with larger preexisting legislative agendas, do not. Thus, gender has a critical role in moderating the election–legislative behavior linkage.
... However, highly qualified and politically well-connected women from both major political parties in the US are less likely than similarly situated men to be recruited to run for public office by party leaders (Fox and Lawless, 2010;Preece et al., 2016). From the party organization perspective, there are times when party leaders do not invest effort in recruiting women as potential candidates, because their perception is that the women cannot win in a specific constituency (Crowder-Meyer, 2013;Sanbonmatsu, 2006). Alternatively, party leaders more often run female rather than male candidates as -sacrificial lambs‖ in unwinnable races (Stambough and O'Regan, 2007). ...
Article
Full-text available
In the last two decades the number of women involved in politics locally and nationally has increased. Nevertheless, there is limited empirical work investigating the increase in the number of female candidates for the position of mayor. To fill this gap in the literature, we conducted interviews with 57 of the 72 female candidates for mayor in Israel before the October 2018 elections, and 37 of the 72 female candidates for mayor after the election. In addition, we interviewed 11 male candidates and men elected as mayors after the election, as well. On the individual level with regard to political ambition, we found that there are four components whose synergy results in more women being encouraged to run for mayor: mentoring, information, networking for women and training. We called this model the MINT model, which has emerged from the interviews conducted with the candidates. On the societal level, it is important to increase public awareness of the importance of gender representation and hence, voting for women to be mayors.
... However, Hayes and Lawless (2016) find that media coverage of women candidates is not nearly as biased as is usually presumed. Perhaps the most persuasive argument against bias as the main factor preventing women from holding public office is evidence that women who run win at equal rates as men (Burrell 1994;Clark et al. 1984;Darcy and Schramm 1977;Lawless and Fox 2010, 49-50;Lawless and Pearson 2008;Sanbonmatsu 2006;Seltzer, Newman, and Leighton 1997). Nevertheless, existing research indicates that prominent women officeholders may have a greater effect on the number of women running for office than the number elected (Ladam, Harden, and Windett 2018). ...
Article
Women remain underrepresented in electoral politics compared to their share of the population. Using an original dataset spanning 1975–2019, we examine whether the presence of women in prominent political office leads to an increase in the number of women serving in state legislatures. We define prominence in two ways: the total number of women elected to statewide office and the length of a state’s history of electing women. We find that the prominence effect diverges by party. The election of prominent Democratic women leads to an increase in the proportion of Democratic women state legislators, while the election of Republican women leads to a decrease in the proportion of Republican women state legislators. Rather than serving as role models for women of both parties to enter the political pipeline, electing more women to prominent office is contributing to a greater representational gap between the parties in state legislatures.
... As an 'information shortcut,' gender tends to privilege men and disadvantage women, because men predominate among those serving on selection panels and leader sex often interacts with a tendency to rely on traditional, insular networks for recruiting candidates (Bjarnegård 2013). The result is between elite perceptions about qualifications and the actual pool of qualified aspirants (Sanbonmatsu 2006). ...
Article
Diagnosing women’s under-representation in electoral politics often involves a “blame game,” seeking to identify the primary factor responsible for depressing the share of women among candidates as well as elected officials. The Danish electoral system – in which parties present ordered lists of candidates but voters have the option to cast preference votes that can rearrange the list order – provides an opportunity to assess the relative role of elite versus voter bias in shaping women’s electoral fortunes. Using data from local elections in 2009, we find greater evidence for elite bias against women. We also observe, however, that voters do not widely exploit their preference votes. In an original post-election survey, we discover that “candidate gender” is less important for male and female voters than a host of other characteristics when deciding for which candidate to cast a preference vote.
... While the influence of parties in selecting female candidates has been well explored in national parliaments (Fox & Lawless, 2011;Hayes, 2011;Krook, 2010;Kunovich & Paxton, 2005;Norris, 2006;Norris & Inglehart, 2008;Paxton & Kunovich, 2003;Sanbonmatsu, 2006;Stockemer, 2013), research investigating how political parties act as gatekeepers for women in executive positions is lacking. There are notable exceptions with regard to cabinet positions (Annesley & Franceschet, 2015;Annesley, Beckwith, & Franceschet, 2019;Claveria, 2014), which stresses the importance of left-wing parties or voluntary gender quotas in increasing the presence of women in ministerial offices. ...
Article
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This paper evaluates existing theories regarding women’s participation in top government positions by applying these theories to Asia through a qualitative comparative analysis (QCA). Thus, this paper aims to identify the conditions necessary and/or sufficient for women to break the political glass ceiling in Asia. Overall, the results show that political parties in democratic or hybrid regimes support different types of female candidates depending on the party’s ideology and political scenario. More specifically, there are three alternative pathways for a party to be successful when selecting a female candidate in Asia. Conditions that were previously necessary in the region, such as family ties to political dynasties or contexts of instability or transition, are no longer necessary. New opportunities in specific socio-political contexts are arising for women who aim to reach the highest office in the country but do not belong to political dynasties. Eprints here: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/T2NDETWZZDFY7ANWPQMB/full?target=10.1080/13569775.2020.1712005
... Factors leading to low levels of political ambition among women are long-standing and deeply rooted. They include the way women are socialized (or not) into politics ( Lawless and Fox 2013), negative stereotypes about women's political ability ( Pruysers and Blais 2017), potential bias among party officials (Sanbonmatsu 2006), low levels of political efficacy (Gidengil, Giles, and Thomas 2008), lower levels of political knowledge (Pruysers and Blais 2014), and a variety of others. Addressing the ambition gap, and more importantly finding solutions, will likely take more than sending an email with some generic words of encouragement. ...
Article
Although there is a significant gender gap in political ambition, the literature has shown that women are responsive to encouragement to run for office. As a result, both political parties and other organizations have adopted online campaigns to encourage women to seek political candidacy. The purpose of this study is to explore whether forms of online and impersonal encouragement can result in higher levels of political ambition among recipients. To test this possibility, we randomly assigned 341 participants into two conditions: control and encouragement. Despite receiving positive encouragement about their own political abilities, there were no significant differences between the two conditions.
... while some identify structural reasons, such as discrimination due to clientelistic party networks (Crowder-Meyer 2013;Fox and Lawless 2014) or a lack of encouragement (Lawless and Fox 2010;Sanbonmatsu 2006), others identify reasons rooted in women's individual characteristics or their preferences. According to this explanation, women do not value the power-related aspects of politics (Schneider et al. 2016), they may make less use of their networks (Granovetter 1983;Greguletz et al. 2019), they are more averse to competitive situations, such as elections, especially when elections are perceived to entail personal costs (Kanthak and Woon 2015), and they are less ambitious than men (Fox and Lawless 2014). ...
Article
Why do women fail to rise in parties, especially youth parties? This analysis shows that female party members’ preferences regarding the purpose of a committee, networking and the election rule in party organisations differ from male party members’ which is likely a reason why women face challenges to rise in parties. This article investigates for the first time these gender based differences in preferences simultaneously by conducting a survey experiment with youth party members. Respondents (n > 1200) were asked if they would run for a seat in a decision-making committee of their youth party. In order to analyse which youth party members opt for which opportunities, the purpose of these committees, the networking opportunities they provide, and the election rule for these committees vary at random. The results show that female members hesitate to join committees that would grant them power, and that they are less likely to opt for upward networking opportunities than their male party colleagues. This effect is particularly strong in hierarchically organised youth parties of centre-right parties. Findings on preferred election rules mostly hold for women from left-wing parties. In contrast to men, this group prefers party quotas. Analysing differences by gender and political orientation, this article shows a clear gender preference gap exists both within and across youth parties.
... A paucity of female candidates selected to take first position in the ballot list can therefore be proposed to explain the fact that while nearly 47% of candidates are female, they make up only 38% of elected members to the National Assembly. As suggested by Sanbonmatsu (2006), this lack of representation of women as frontrunners in a political party may be due to a gap between elite perceptions and objective measures of women's status as candidates. ...
Preprint
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Ecuador has one of the strongest electoral designs in terms of gender quotas in Latin America. However, there remains a significant gap between the number of women candidates and the number elected. To explain why a quota does not lead to an elected representation proportional to the quota we examine voter bias and elite bias in the legislative elections of 2013 and 2017. Results show gender bias towards female candidates, and not against, which is a surprising result in a country maintaining a culture of traditional gender roles on average. A breakdown of the voting patterns by gender, however, reveals that the overall voter preference for female candidates is driven entirely by female voter tendencies. Rather, the lack of representation of women as frontrunners in a political party might explain the gap between female candidates and elected members to the National Assembly. Elite bias against women, not voter bias, explains women’s electoral fortunes in Ecuador.
... women members of parliament (MPs) has increased only slightly since the country's political transition from military rule in 1993, when 8 percent of elected MPs were women.2 But, as in a number of countries such as the United States, where when women run, they win (Sanbonmatsu 2006), voters in Ghana appear not to discriminate against women candidates for parliament in the general election (see Table 3.1)-there are just few women candidates to begin with.3 ...
Chapter
Chapter 3 asks how women fare during candidate selection within institutionalized parties. The chapter provides a unique analysis of the persistent barriers women are likely to face as aspirants in countries that lack legislative gender-based quotas. Focusing on Ghana’s two national parties, the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party, Bauer and Darkwah examine how the adoption of seemingly more inclusive and transparent primary processes affects women’s likelihood of being selected as party candidates. Drawing on qualitative interviews with party elites, women aspirants, and candidates, they find that women in Ghana report serious concerns with potential violence and harassment. In addition, they show that financial constraints pose a barrier for women aspirants and that party efforts to overcome these constraints through fee reductions and subsidies are largely insufficient.
... Notwithstanding this apparent parity in outcomes, Lien argues that Asian American women simultaneously encounter multiple systems of oppression, and gender-related barriers to incorporation. This is consistent with scholarship in women in politics and intersectionality that has emphasized that equality of outcomes is not a reliable indicator of equality in underlying socio-political processes (Hardy-Fanta 2003;García Bedolla and Scola 2006;Sanbonmatsu 2006;Hancock 2007). Consistent with this theoretical expectation, we hypothesize that foreign-born Asian American women will vote and participate at lower rates than men once we account for heterogeneous effects of factors related to immigrant incorporation. ...
Article
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Asian American men and women have voted at roughly similar rates across the last three presidential elections. This sets Asian Americans apart; women in America have generally voted at higher rates than men since the 1980s. The women in politics and immigrant incorporation literatures suggest that pathways to participation may be distinct for women and men. Yet, there is scant attention to gender in studies of Asian American political participation. As a result, little theoretical or empirical foundation exists for explaining why the gender gap in participation is so different for Asian Americans. To better understand this puzzle, we analyze pooled data from the National Asian American Surveys of 2008, 2012, and 2016. The data show that women are less likely to vote than men once we account for variables related to resources, mediating institutions, and immigrant incorporation. We also demonstrate that Asian American women who are foreign-born citizens are less likely to participate across a range of modes of political action, and across ethnic groups. We argue that this is evidence that gender and ethnicity simultaneously condition the processes of immigrant political incorporation, and the study of gender gaps must be approached more broadly as a political and comparative phenomenon.
... On the supply side, there is evidence women's underrepresentation is driven in part by their lower levels of political ambition, but Black political aspirants in the United States have shown high levels of political ambition (Shah 2014(Shah , 2015. Party gatekeepers underestimate the electoral potential of both women and racialized candidates, and they are less likely to recruit them than white men (Crowder-Meyer 2013; Dancygier et al. 2015;Sanbonmatsu 2006a). Local party chairs in the United States tend to view minority candidates as less viable than white candidates but believe women are as viable as men (Doherty, Dowling, and Miller 2019). ...
Article
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Election to office is shaped by a series of decisions made by prospective candidates, parties, and voters. These choices determine who emerges and is ultimately selected to run, and each decision point either expands or limits the possibilities for more diverse representation. Studies of women candidates have established an important theoretical and empirical basis for understanding legislative recruitment. This study asks how these patterns differ when race and intersectionality are integrated into the analyses. Focusing on more than 800 political aspirants in Canada, I show that although white and racialized women aspire to political office at roughly the same rates, their experiences diverge at the point of party selection. White men remain the preferred candidates, and parties’ efforts to diversify politics have mostly benefited white women. I argue that a greater emphasis on the electoral trajectories of racialized women and men is needed.
... Future work could also examine whether the electability boost intervention tested here might be effective for counteracting other barriers to achieving gender parity among elected representatives: gender differences in willingness to run for higher office (66), the tendency for women candidates to attract more competition in primaries (50), and women candidates being less likely to be recruited to run for office (67,68). Finally, women are underrepresented in positions of formal leadership not only in politics but across a number of domains (1-3), and the perception of practical barriers may impede women's access to leadership positions in business, education, and religion as well. ...
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Significance Women remain underrepresented in political leadership in the United States and beyond. While abundant research has studied the possible impact of gender stereotypes on support for women candidates, our research finds that voters also withhold support for women candidates because they perceive practical barriers to women successfully attaining political leadership positions. We find that providing Democratic primary voters with evidence that women earn as much electoral support as men in US general elections increased intentions to vote for women candidates. Our results suggest that women face complex barriers that prevent gender equity in politics, and these barriers can be reduced when voters believe that Americans not only want but also will take action to support women candidates.
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This paper theorizes three forms of bias that might limit women's representation: outright hostility, double standards, and a double bind whereby desired traits present bigger burdens for women than men. We examine these forms of bias using conjoint experiments derived from several original surveys—a population survey of American voters and two rounds of surveys of American public officials. We find no evidence of outright discrimination or of double standards. All else equal, most groups of respondents prefer female candidates, and evaluate men and women with identical profiles similarly. But on closer inspection, all is not equal. Across the board, elites and voters prefer candidates with traditional household profiles such as being married and having children, resulting in a double bind for many women. So long as social expectations about women's familial commitments cut against the demands of a full-time political career, women are likely to remain underrepresented in politics.
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Objective In this article, we reexamine how the entry and success of women state legislative candidates is affected by local political context. Methods We use evidence from state legislative elections from 2001 to 2010 to test our hypotheses. Results We find that female candidates’ emergence and success are affected by the district's context relative to both all districts nationally and all districts within that state. Intrastate comparisons are particularly influential in districts that are less women friendly using a national comparison. Conclusions Our findings underscore the importance of considering multiple dimensions of political context as scholars attempt to understand the variation in political representation of women state legislators.
Book
The third edition of Gender and Elections offers a systematic, lively, and multifaceted account of the role of gender in the electoral process through the 2012 elections. This timely yet enduring volume strikes a balance between highlighting the most important developments for women as voters and candidates in the 2012 elections and providing a more long-term, in-depth analysis of the ways that gender has helped shape the contours and outcomes of electoral politics in the United States. Individual chapters demonstrate the importance of gender in understanding and interpreting presidential elections, presidential and vice-presidential candidacies, voter participation and turnout, voting choices, congressional elections, the political involvement of Latinas, the participation of African American women, the support of political parties and women's organizations, candidate communications with voters, and state elections. Without question, Gender and Elections is the most comprehensive, reliable, and trustworthy resource on the role of gender in U.S. electoral politics.
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Most research on evaluations of women candidates considers single elections in isolation. Using two Dynamic Process Tracing experiments, this article examines whether voters alter their evaluations of women candidates, as well as their willingness to learn about and vote for them, based on the presence of other women running simultaneously in concurrent contests. We find a consistent pattern in which female candidates are not adversely affected when they are the only woman on a voter’s ballot, but they are disadvantaged when other women appear on the same party’s ballot in other races. This effect is more prominent for women in lower offices: women running for the House of Representatives are more disadvantaged than women running for higher offices are.
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Unlike many other countries, the U.S. has not adopted sets of laws or voluntary policies, such as quotas or “all-women short lists” in the U.K., to increase women’s representation. In lieu of official policy, an informal network of groups has grown around the need to increase the number of women candidates vying for political office in the U.S. Though researchers and the media discuss these groups often, we lack a complete picture of how many groups exist and what they do. This paper builds a descriptive profile of women’s recruitment and training in the U.S. using a new census of active women candidate groups. We highlight patterns in where they operate, partisanship, abortion litmus tests, and their participation in recruiting, training, and funding women candidates. We find that organizations operate in all states, but that these organizations are not equally accessible to all groups of women.
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In order to understand why women tend to be under-nominated even though they are more likely to be elected compared to men in Taiwan, this study focuses on the nomination systems of two major political parties. The country provides a critical case of inter-party and intra-party comparison for women’s nomination, as the two major parties diverge in their practice of candidate selection. Further, the electoral reforms from the SNTV (Single Non-Transferable Vote) system to the SMD (Single-Member District) system have led parties to alter their strategies in selecting women candidates. With the nomination dataset compiled over the past 20 years, this study finds that more centralized nomination is more conducive to women’s candidacy, even under different electoral systems. Under the old SNTV system, the more centralized KMT (Kuomintang) nominated more women candidates than did the decentralized DPP (Democratic Progressive Party). Under the new SMD system, women’s representation as a whole actually increased in Taiwan, which runs contrary to the general expectation, compared to the multimember-district system and so the SMD tends to inhibit women’s representation. The growing centralization in the major parties after the electoral rule changed to the new system, has enhanced women’s candidacies, but the higher male incumbent advantage is a hurdle still to be overcome in the long term. This study argues that although electoral rules have altered the parameters of party competition, party nomination are critical factors for explaining changing women’s representation.
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There is growing attention to the descriptive representation of racialized minorities in politics. Because of a systematic lack of data on nomination contestants’ racial backgrounds, most research looks at outcomes on election day, thus ignoring the crucial stages that help to shape minority candidate emergence. Using a unique data set on nomination contestants and local party presidents in a recent Canadian election, this study demonstrates that while district diversity is one determinant of minority candidate emergence, the presence of a racialized local party president is also substantively important. The findings show that racialized party gatekeepers play a key role in the emergence of minority candidates, and these networks matter most in districts with lower levels of racial diversity. The findings further suggest that the general pattern of left-center parties facilitating minority candidate emergence may not apply in the Canadian context.
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The conventional wisdom suggests that women have less political ambition than men. The notion that women can solve the problem of their political underrepresentation by just “leaning in” also informs candidate training programs. This article links scholarship on women's candidate emergence to new research on women's candidate training programs, reaching three conclusions about the gender ambition gap. First, institutional, organizational, and structural barriers limit women's access to elected office more than their psychological predispositions. Second, most candidate training programs cannot address these systemic barriers. Third, the “lean in” frame reinforces notions that men are inherently capable, while women must overcome deficiencies in confidence or skills or both.
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Women’s representation in political decision-making institutions represents the pinnacle of women’s empowerment. Investigating how women gain access to these venues of power, how they act in positions of power, and how they pave the political way for other women is pivotal to understanding mechanisms of women’s representation. Normalizing the idea and the practice of women politicians will eventually strip the phrase of its gender component and contribute to an understanding that performance in politics is not determined or deterred by gender, but by each individual’s capacity. This research aimed to illustrate how two societies with different cultures, systems, histories, and people managed to generate similar evolutions in women’s legislative representation, starting with 1990 and following the 2016 elections. The findings showed that, although a similar amount of women have filled the ranks of the Romanian and the American legislative bodies, and average senior female legislators spend about 12 years in both cases, the latter are far more consistent in office, left-wing parties are more likely to generate female lawmakers, longest-lasting lawmakers are more likely to be appointed to committee leadership, yet Romanians are more likely to be assigned soft policy portfolios than their American counterparts. In terms of rhetorical gender negotiations, the two candidates analyzed display gender-balanced content and a similar strategy of creating rapport with their audience, yet the American woman capitalized on personal experience, whereas the Romanian candidate kept away from sharing the personal, reflective of the struggle of navigating the double bind.
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Much existing research on coattail effects focuses on the president’s ability to attract votes for congressional candidates of the same party. In addition to candidates’ parties being noted on the ballot, however, voters can often infer candidate gender, meaning it could also influence voter perceptions of candidates. In this article, we examine whether coattail effects exist not just at the party-level, but also with respect to gender. Using electoral data from gubernatorial and state legislative races from 2010 and 2014, we examine the degree to which women candidates for governor attract votes for female candidates for state legislative races down-ballot. We find that women state legislative candidates can benefit from having a woman at the top of the ticket, but the context and frequency of this benefit differs by party.
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Globally, women are underrepresented in politics. We propose developmental psychology offers an important, yet underused, theoretical lens for understanding and counteracting the gender gap in political leadership. In making this proposal, we harness insight from research on women’s underrepresentation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), where developmental psychology has revealed that cultural beliefs and attitudes about STEM are transmitted early in life and begin undermining girls’ interest and confidence in STEM long before adulthood. Leveraging developmental research from STEM as inspiration, we identify five areas of inquiry that are critical to a developmentally informed perspective on the origins of the gender gap in politics. Although studying children to understand political inequities among adults may be playing the “long game,” we argue this will be a necessary step to advance gender equity in political leadership.
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Even though a record number of women ran for the Democratic nomination in 2020, Clinton’s loss in 2016 led pundits, party elites, and voters to worry about whether the country would be willing to support a woman for president, and polling organizations regularly asked questions that tapped into such concerns. While the vast majority expressed willingness to vote for a woman for president in polls, people were more skeptical about how their neighbors felt. Our research question cuts to the heart of this issue: How does polling information about comfort with the idea of a woman president affect perceptions of the electability of actual women running for their party’s nomination, and in turn voting decisions? We expect that exposure to signals of low comfort with a woman president will reduce perceptions of electability, and in turn dampen support for women at the nomination stage, but there are competing hypotheses for how signals of high comfort will be received. We further expect that Democratic women will be most affected by such information. We test these expectations with an experiment fielded on the 2019 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES). Our findings have important implications for media coverage of polls related to women running for executive office.
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In this article, we examine the extent to which women teachers ran for state legislative office in 2018, where they won, and the degree to which they contributed to the surge of women representatives elected in state legislatures around the country. We engaged in a comprehensive effort to collect information on all of the teacher candidates who ran for seats in state legislatures during the 2018 midterm elections. We found that 430 teacher candidates ran for a state legislative office. These candidates were fairly evenly split between men (51%) and women (49%), and tended to reflect the racial demographics of the teaching profession. Most teacher candidates ran as Democrats (69%) and 33% came from the six states that experienced teacher walkouts during spring 2018. We found that men and women teacher candidates were similarly likely to win the general election, but due to the higher proportion of women teacher candidates running relative to the men-dominated composition of state legislatures, the teacher candidates contributed to the increase in the descriptive representation of women in state legislatures after the 2018 midterm elections. Women teacher candidates won 61 seats in the 2018 midterm elections, which represents about 3% of the 1839 seats won by women in state legislatures in 2018. Although our work focuses on only a single election cycle, if teacher candidacy is a growing trend, then political engagement from the women-dominated profession of teaching may create new growth in the number of women lawmakers in the United States.
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Previous literature on women and political ambition has shown that the ambition of potential candidates is often shaped by career paths that develop the kinds of skills useful for navigating the political environment. These studies often did not include the experiences of Black women who chose to run for office. Utilizing data from interviews with Black women elected officials across the country I offer that the key to making the decision to run for office is the unique socialization process of Black women. This process is shaped by generational examples of service, familial and community nurturing that encourages striving for excellence, and a sense of obligation to do work and not just hold a title. I find that though Black women at times initially doubt their ability to be successful in politics they often overcome these doubts as a result of encouragement by peers and community members who remind them of the skills they developed from their community and political work. They are also motivated to work to meet the needs of their communities. These experiences provide further understanding of how Black women purposefully engage within their communities and develop a standing that allows for their potential success as candidates.
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Ireland is the first country in the world to apply a legislative gender quota under an STV electoral system. Since 2016, the quota has required parties to ensure that at least thirty percent of their candidates running in the general election are women. Due to the nature of the electoral system, namely that it is candidate-centred, the impact of the quota has the potential to be limited if voter bias is present among the electorate. While the initial gains from the quota’s first election in 2016 were maintained at the 2020 general election, with one more woman elected to Dáil Éireann, the headline figures may be misleading. In this earthquake election, a significant number of high-profile women from across the political spectrum lost their seats, while male colleagues retained theirs, suggesting that female candidates may have been evaluated differently from their male counterparts. Using self-reported voter attitudes from the 2020 Irish National Election Study, we investigate whether there is an underlying bias against women amongst voters. We test whether such a bias has an impact on the share of women running and the share of women winning, as well as individual women’s level of electoral success. Overall, we find no evidence that voter bias affected outcomes for women at the 2020 Irish general election.
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Extant research on gender, context, and representation in the United States reveals women remain underrepresented as candidates, winners, and throughout political institutions. To better understand the sources of these gender gaps, greater consideration must be given to strategic entry decisions in primary elections. We study this question using aggregate data from state legislative primaries from 2001–2015. We find compelling evidence that women’s probability of entry and victory in primary contests is affected by district political context – especially women-friendliness and religiosity. These results support the strategic entry hypothesis and provide further evidence that the most significant barriers to the representation of women in American political institutions precede electoral politics.
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Existing research about the effects of electoral systems on descriptive representation is mixed. In this paper, we test implications of theoretical arguments about the impact of electoral rules on voters’ propensity to vote for women candidates. We conducted a survey experiment during the 2017 provincial election in British Columbia, Canada, using actual candidates in both real and hypothetical electoral districts. We find that more permissive, or candidate-centered, forms of proportional representation do not improve descriptive representation of women; if anything, they diminish it. We interpret these results as being driven by the supply of candidates – voters tend to vote for incumbent, well-known candidates who happen to be predominantly men. Our findings provide a cautionary note about how electoral rules can interact with real-world experiences and conditions.
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This paper examined whether Black women political candidates face double jeopardy in voter perceptions of electability due to Black women being perceived as having fewer traditional leader traits compared to White male, White female, and Black male candidates. Due to increasing political polarization in the United States, concerns over electability are at the forefront of many voters’ minds when casting their ballots. Traditional conceptions of electability are built upon racialized and gendered notions of what traits connote an effective leader; thus, women and racial minority candidates are often perceived as less electable compared to White men. However, research has not adequately examined the intersectional aspect of electability bias. The current study proposed a double jeopardy effect: we expected that participants (n = 454) would perceive Black women, compared to White men, White women, and Black men, as lower in competence and leadership ability, which would lead to lower electability perceptions and voting intentions. Unexpectedly, there were mixed findings for the effects of race/gender on competence and leadership ability, and we did not find any evidence that candidate race/gender related to electability or voting intentions. We discuss potential explanations for these null findings and suggest avenues for future research.
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This experiment sent state legislators an email from an individual seeking advice on running for office, varying the gender and party of the sender. This project explores two inquiries—who the legislators choose to respond to and how the legislators’ own gender and partisan identities shape that decision. I theorize that women in politics is a salient issue for legislators; therefore, they will be more willing to advise politically ambitious women. Overall, I find that legislators are more willing to offer help when the aspirant is a woman and of the same party. When primed to further consider women in politics, legislators are more likely to offer gender-specific advice. Democrats rather than women legislators drive this heightened responsiveness to the woman aspirant. These findings highlight what role public officials can play in closing the candidate gender gap, and how legislators’ multiple identities intersect and frame their decisions to aid political aspirants.
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Research suggests that women who run in elections for state supreme court tend to do well in those elections. However, this begs the question: how do those women fare in judicial primary elections and is the subsequent success just a reflection of a more arduous primary process? Using a unique dataset of judicial primary elections from 1990 through 2016, I establish similarities and differences in the structural process and test hypotheses about the paths women take when running for state supreme court. Taking into account the different structural paths available to women, I find women have an advantage in primary elections in that they are more likely to “win” and move to the general elections. However, I also find incumbent women are more likely to attract women as challengers when running in primary elections, and women are more likely to attract challengers in nonpartisan judicial elections. This finding may be mitigated by differences in the primary process based on state. Overall, I find women do not have a disadvantage in the judicial primaries, and often have an advantage over similarly situated men. As a whole, this work paints a nuanced picture of the ways women are elected to state supreme court. These findings also dispel many assumptions about the disadvantages women are thought to have when running for state supreme court.
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Gender gaps in voter turnout and electoral representation have narrowed, but other forms of gender inequality remain. We examine gendered differences in donations: who donates and to whom? Donations furnish campaigns with necessary resources, provide voters with cues about candidate viability, and influence which issues politicians prioritize. We exploit an administrative data set to analyze donations to Canadian parties and candidates over a 25-year period. We use an automated classifier to estimate donor gender and then link these data to candidate and party characteristics. Importantly, and in contrast to null effects from research on gender affinity voting, we find women are more likely to donate to women candidates, but women donate less often and in smaller amounts than men. The lack of formal gendered donor networks and the reliance on more informal, male-dominated local connections may influence women donors’ behavior. Change over a quarter century has been modest, and large gender gaps persist.
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Do elites exhibit gender bias when responding to political aspirants? Drawing on theories of gender bias, group attachment, and partisan identity, I conduct the first audit experiment outside the United States to examine the presence of gender bias in the earliest phases of the political recruitment process. Based on responses from 1,774 Canadian legislators, I find evidence of an overall gender bias in favor of female political aspirants. Specifically, legislators are more responsive to female political aspirants and more likely to provide them with helpful advice when they ask how to get involved in politics. This pro-women bias, which exists at all levels of government, is stronger among female legislators and those associated with left-leaning parties. These results suggest that political elites in Canada are open to increasing female political representation and thus should serve as welcome encouragement for women to pursue their political ambitions.
Thesis
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Women in the United States are dramatically underrepresented in comparison to men serving in elected public office. This distinct dichotomy is both a reactionary response by female candidates choosing to run for office as a lower percentage than men as well as a causal product of campaign barriers limiting women from being elected. In this thesis, the dilemma of women’s political underrepresentation in public office is analyzed at the local level, offices including school board and city council, and at the statewide level, offices including governor and state legislature. Women tend to hold a greater percentage of local office seats as opposed to seats in the state legislature. This thesis analyzes the key differences that female candidates will face between seeking office at the local level as opposed to the statewide level. A call-to-action for women to begin seeking public office across all levels requires a specification of different tactics, depending of the office sought.
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Parties vary substantially in the proportion of women they send to parliament. I examine how party characteristics affect women's representation in the parliamentary parties of 12 advanced industrial nations over time. Four party-level factors have some explanatory power: organizational structure, ideology, women party activists and gender-related candidate rules. A temporal sequence is proposed in which these factors and electoral rules directly and indirectly affect women's representation. Women party activists and gender-related rules are the more direct mechanisms affecting women's legislative representation. Further, New Left values and high levels of women activists within the party both enhance the likelihood that gender-related candidate rules will be implemented.
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We report the results of an experiment involving 820 randomly sampled adults. Half heard about a female Republican candidate for Congress. The other half learned of an otherwise identical male candidate. Democrat and Independent voters were more likely to trust, think qualified, view as a leader, and vote for the female Republican (contrasted with the male Republican). On the other hand, being female led to associations that hurt Republican women within their own party. We augment our experimental results by providing evidence that Republican women have done significantly worse than Democratic women in winning nominations in open-seat congressional districts.
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There is a distinct gap in women's representation in national legislatures between countries with single-member district electoral systems and those with proportional representation electoral systems. While this gap has been well documented, there have been only limited attempts at explaining its existence. After reviewing the literature on the representation gap, we turn to the party change literature and propose a modified contagion theory as one possible explanation for the gap. Contagion theory suggests that traditional parties will feel pressured to nominate more women if one of their political rivals, usually a smaller party farther to the left, starts to promote representation of women. We distinguish between macrocontagion and microcontagion and argue that especially microcontagion is more likely to occur in party list proportional representation systems than in single-member district systems. This should be true because contagion pressures are more likely to develop, and the costs of adapting to these pressures are less, in party list proportional representation systems. We formally test for microcontagion at the electoral district level in Canada and Norway, both leaders among their type of electoral systems in female representation. The data confirm our hypothesis by showing no indication of microcontagion in Canada, but evidence of such an effect in Norway.
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Among the most enduring inequalities in American politics is the underrepresentation of women among elected officials. This pro-masculine bias becomes increasingly pronounced the higher the office on the political pyramid. Although many women have served on school boards, few have served in Congress. Several alternative theories have been proposed to explain the gender gap in officeholding. Factors ranging from women's socialization, career choices, and domestic responsibilities to prejudice on the part of political influentials and voter bias against female candidates have been cited as barriers to elective office for women.
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A critical void in the research on women's underrepresentation in elective office is an analysis of the initial decision to run for office. Based on data from our Citizen Political Ambition Study, the first large-scale national survey of potential candidates, we examine the process by which women and men emerge as candidates for public office. We find that women who share the same personal characteristics and professional credentials as men express significantly lower levels of political ambition to hold elective office. Two factors explain this gender gap: first, women are far less likely than men to be encouraged to run for office; second, women are significantly less likely than men to view themselves as qualified to run. Our findings call into question the leading theoretical explanations for women's numeric underrepresentation and indicate that, because of vestiges of traditional sex-role socialization, prospects for gender parity in U.S. political institutions are less promising than conventional explanations suggest.
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There are two distinct bodies of research on candidate gender. The first argues that voters are not biased against female candidates. These studies are usually based on aggregate analyses of the success rates of male and female candidates. The second body of research argues that voters employ gender stereotypes when they evaluate candidates. These studies are usually based on experiments which manipulate candidate gender. This study seeks to unite these literatures by incorporating gender stereotypes and hypothetical vote questions involving two candidates in one model I argue that many voters have a baseline gender preference to vote for male over female candidates, or female over male candidates. Using original survey data, I find that this general predisposition or preference can be explained by gender stereotypes about candidate traits, beliefs, and issue competencies, and by voter gender. I also argue that this baseline preference affects voting behavior.
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Parties in the legislature have become central to the recruitment of candidates, overshadowing the role traditionally played by the local and state parties. In this article, I analyze original data from a recent national mail survey of state legislative leaders in order to understand why some legislative parties are more involved in recruitment than others, testing several competing theories of party activities. I find that legislative leaders are perceived to be more active in recruitment than either the state or local party. Where there is more competition between the two parties, the parties in the legislature are more actively engaged in recruitment. These results suggest that legislative leaders can use candidate recruitment as a strategy to build or maintain a majority. Meanwhile, I do not find support for the view that the legislative party recruits candidates where the state and local parties are not recruiting candidates. I also find that recruitment is not limited to the most professionalized legislatures.
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Women hold slightly more than one fifth of all seats in state legislatures in the United States. This analysis examines why women are elected more often in some states and districts than in others. Using logistic regression, a variety of explanations related to differences in culture, institutions, electoral structures, and demographic features are found to influence the probability that women are elected. Findings show that free-for-all districts increase the chances that women are represented; however, when considered in conjunction with other contextual features, this factor's influence is far from overwhelming. The findings have implications for modeling aspects of the electoral process as well as for informing the policy debate over reforms intended to bring about more equitable representation. Results show that altering current electoral procedures presently used in state legislatures will have only a limited impact on the number of women legislators. Of the factors examined, political culture and education are two of the most influential, yet the most difficult to change.
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The authors extend previous research on women’s participation in politics by examining the role of female elites in political parties in selecting and supporting women as political candidates. They hypothesize that political parties, in their role as gatekeepers, mediate the relationship between country-level factors, such as women’s participation in the labor force, and political outcomes for women. The article focuses on three outcomes for women: the percentage of female political party leaders, the percentage of female candidates in a country, and the percentage of women elected. New cross-national measures of women’s inclusion in political parties are developed and analyzed in a cross-national, path-analytic model of women in politics to find that (1) women’s position in party elites translates into gains for women as candidates only under proportional representation systems, (2) women’s position in party elites increases the likelihood that female candidates will be elected only in non-proportional representation systems, and (3) parties may be overly sensitive to the perceived liability of women as candidates, when in fact, women have success as candidates across all regions of the world.
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General measures of ideology and partisanship derived from national survey data concatenated to the state level have been extremely important in understanding policy and political processes in the states. However, due to the lack of uniform survey data covering a broad array of survey questions, we know little about how specific state-level opinion relates to specific policies or processes. Using the General Social Survey (GSS) disaggregated to the state level, we develop and rigorously test specific measures of state-level opinion on tolerance, racial integration, abortion, religiosity, homosexuality, feminism, capital punishment, welfare, and the environment. To illustrate the utility of these measures, we compare the explanatory power of each to that of a general ideology measure. We use a simulation to clarify conditions under which a national sample frame can produce representative state samples. We offer these measures to advance the study of the role public opinion plays in state politics and policy.
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The impact of context on women candidates has been vigorously studied using comparisons of state-level data and found to be substantial. Many of the variables used in this research were measured at the state level even though their influence is theorized at the district level and observed to vary within states. This essay tests these intra-state contextual influences using regression analysis of state House of Representatives district-level contextual data in four states from 1982-1990. The findings confirm, contradict, and provide mixed results for particular state-level results.
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One-half century ago, V. O. Key, Jr., published his masterpiece, Southern Politics in State and Nation. Key's analysis of the failure of democracy in the South must count as one of the great achievements of our discipline. His explanation is rich and complex. Certainly the anti-liberal basis of society in the mid-twentieth-century South was crucial—“Whatever phase of the southern political process one seeks to understand, sooner or later the trail of inquiry leads to the Negro,” he wrote (1984[1949], 5). But it was not only that the South was an illiberal society, what really mattered was that the South was also non-democratic.
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This article analyzes the role of political parties in shaping women’s representation across the U.S. states. Using data from 1971 to 1999, I analyze several hypotheses about how party affects womens’ recruitment to the lower houses of state legislatures. I argue that the incentive structure facing potential women candidates is somewhat different for Democratic and Republican women. The social eligibility pool, legislative professionalism, and partisan composition of the legislature affect womens’ representation differently by party. Rather than assuming a single path for women to elective office, this research implies that it is necessary to disaggregate women by party in order to understand the pattern of where women run for and hold state legislative office.
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The electorate's reactions to women congressional candidates are examined using both election returns and survey data. When party and incumbency are controlled candidate sex alone is found to have little or no effect on election outcomes. A curious interaction is found between candidate sex and party, however. This is attributed to nomination patterns
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