Feb 8, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Women are running for office, but not nearly as much as men

Percentage of surveyed professionals who have considered running for office
Data: Brookings; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Despite a rise in female candidates winning elections and filling congressional seats, a recent survey found female professionals are still less likely to consider running for elected office than their male counterparts.

By the numbers: Among men with work backgrounds common for political candidates, 60% said they've considered running for office. The same was true for only 40% of women, according to new survey findings published by the Brookings Institution.

  • Three times over the past 20 years, researchers have surveyed around 4,000 lawyers, businesspeople, educators and political activists.
  • They've asked them about their interest in running for elected positions as part of the Citizen Political Ambition Study.
  • In 2001, 2011 and 2021, 16% to 18% more male than female respondents said they'd considered running for office.
  • The gap persisted despite the rise of powerful female politicians during that time, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Between the lines: The survey discovered differences between how men and women perceived their qualifications, despite working in the same fields, Brookings points out.

  • More than a third of the men surveyed said they felt “very qualified” to run for office, compared to only one in five of the women.
  • On the other hand, the women were three times as likely to rate themselves “not at all qualified."
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