Jun 12, 2017

Women are as likely to win elections as men — but fewer want to run

Patrick Semansky, Steven Senne, J. Scott Applewhite, Kiichiro Sato / AP

In the U.S., women hold less than a quarter of elected positions, making it the 101st country in the world for governmental gender equality, according to Politico. Women are actually just as likely to win an election as men, but are far less likely to run.

What doesn't matter: Studies have shown fundraising inequality, sexism in the media and among voters, and unyielding party bureaucracies do not contribute to the lack of women in office, Politico reports.

What does matter: Women aren't as interested in pursuing a political career. There are almost twice as many men who consider running for office than women — 20% of GOP women to 41% GOP men, and 24% Democrat women to 35% Democrat men.

Good news: After the election, there was a 75% increase in women filing to run for the Virginia Legislature and a 25% increase in New Jersey. Organizations that help promote women running for office have reported impressive increases as well. But... in a Politico poll after the election, women were still 15% less likely to say they would run for office than men.

Suggested solutions:

  1. A survey by the Women and Politics Institute at American University found that women were less likely to receive encouragement to pursue politics from teachers, parents, friends, spouses, etc. than men. That should change.
  2. School boards are the most likely place for women to be running for and working in elected positions. Recruiters should search there.
  3. Women tend to pursue office for different reasons than men. Political party recruiters should therefore change their pitches to women reflect how politics can be used to solve problems.

Go deeper: For more on how women view politics differently than men, and ways to fix the gender gap, read Politico's piece, here.

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