After the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, a large cohort of women emerged to run for office. Their efforts changed the landscape of candidates and representation. However, women are still far less likely than men to seek elective office, and face biases and obstacles in campaigns. (Women running for Congress make twice as many phone calls as men to raise the same contributions.)
The editors and contributors to Good Reasons to Run, a mix of scholars and practitioners, examine the reasons why women run—and do not run—for political office. They focus on the opportunities, policies, and structures that promote women’s candidacies. How do nonprofits help recruit and finance women as candidates? And what role does money play in women’s campaigns?
The essays in Good Reasons to Run ask not just who wants to run, but how to activate and encourage such ambition among a larger population of potential female candidates while also increasing the diversity of women running for office.
From the presidential level down, men and women who run for political office confront different electoral realities. In her probing study, Navigating Gendered Terrain, Kelly Dittmar investigates how gender influences the campaign strategy and behavior of candidates today. Concurrently, she shows how candidates' strategic and tactical decisions can influence the gendered nature of campaign institutions.
Navigating Gendered Terrain addresses how gender is used to shape how campaigns are waged by influencing insider perceptions of and decisions about effective campaign messages, images, and tactics within party and political contexts. Dittmar uses survey information and interviews with candidates, political consultants, and other campaign professionals to reveal how gender-informed advertising, websites, and overall presentation to voters respond to stereotypes and perceptions of female and male candidates.
She closes her book by offering a feminist interpretation of women as candidates and explaining how the unintended outcomes of political campaigns reinforce prevailing ideas about gender and candidacy.
France today is in the throes of a crisis about whether to represent social differences within its political system and, if so, how. It is a crisis defined by the rhetoric of a universalism that takes the abstract individual to be the representative not only of citizens but also of the nation. In Parité! Joan Wallach Scott shows how the requirement for abstraction has led to the exclusion of women from French politics.
During the 1990s, le mouvement pour la parité successfully campaigned for women's inclusion in elective office with an argument that is unprecedented in the annals of feminism. The paritaristes insisted that if the abstract individual were thought of as sexed, then sexual difference would no longer be a relevant consideration in politics. Scott insists that this argument was neither essentialist nor separatist; it was not about women's special qualities or interests. Instead, parité was rigorously universalist—and for that reason was both misunderstood and a source of heated debate.
Selecting Women, Electing Women is a groundbreaking book that examines how the rules for candidate selection affect women’s political representation in Latin America. Focusing particularly on Chile and Mexico, Magda Hinojosa presents counterintuitive assumptions about factors that promote the election of women. She argues that primaries—which are regularly thought of as the most democratic process for choosing candidates—actually produce fewer female nominees than centralized and seemingly exclusionary candidate selection procedures.
Hinojosa astutely points out the role of candidate selection processes in explaining variation in women’s representation that exists both across and within political parties. Selecting Women, Electing Women makes critical inroads to the study of gender and politics, candidate selection, and Latin American politics.
Voting the Gender Gap
Edited by Lois Duke Whitaker University of Illinois Press, 2007 Library of Congress HQ1236.5.U6V68 2008 | Dewey Decimal 324.9730082
This book concentrates on the gender gap in voting--the difference in the proportion of women and men voting for the same candidate. Evident in every presidential election since 1980, this polling phenomenon reached a high of 11 percentage points in the 1996 election. The contributors discuss the history, complexity, and ways of analyzing the gender gap; the gender gap in relation to partisanship; motherhood, ethnicity, and the impact of parental status on the gender gap; and the gender gap in races involving female candidates. Voting the Gender Gap analyzes trends in voting while probing how women's political empowerment and gender affect American politics and the electoral process.
Contributors are Susan J. Carroll, Erin Cassese, Cal Clark, Janet M. Clark, M. Margaret Conway, Kathleen A. Dolan, Laurel Elder, Kathleen A. Frankovic, Steven Greene, Leonie Huddy, Mary-Kate Lizotte, Barbara Norrander, Margie Omero, and Lois Duke Whitaker.
Why don’t more women run for office? Why are certain states more likely to have female candidates and representatives? Would strengthening political parties narrow the national gender gap? Where Women Run addresses these important questions through a rare and incisive look at how candidates are recruited. Drawing on surveys and case studies of party leaders and legislators in six states, political scientist Kira Sanbonmatsu analyzes the links between parties and representation, exposing the mechanism by which parties’ informal recruitment practices shape who runs—or doesn’t run—for political office in America.
“Kira Sanbonmatsu has done a masterful job of linking the representation of women in elective office to the activities of party organizations in the states. She combines qualitative and quantitative data to show how women are navigating the campaign process to become elected leaders and the changing role of party organizations in their recruitment and election. It is a significant contribution to the study of representative democracy.”
--Barbara Burrell, Northern Illinois University
“Sanbonmatsu has produced an excellent study that will invigorate research on the role of political parties and the recruitment of women candidates. Using a variety of methods and data sources, she has crafted a tightly constructed, clearly argued, and exceedingly well-written study. A commendable and convincing job.”
--Gary Moncrief, Boise State University
“Sanbonmatsu offers important insights in two neglected areas of American politics: the role of political parties in recruiting candidates and the continued under-representation of women in elected office. Connecting the two subjects through careful qualitative and statistical methods, insightful interpretation of the literature and interesting findings, the book is a significant new addition to scholarship on parties, gender, and political recruitment.”
--Linda Fowler, Dartmouth College
Kira Sanbonmatsu is Associate Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University and Senior Scholar at the Eagleton Institute of Politics’ Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP). She was previously associate professor at Ohio State University. She is the author of Democrats, Republicans, and the Politics of Women’s Place.
To explain women’s underrepresentation in American politics, researchers have directed their attention to differences between men and women, especially during the candidate emergence process, which includes recruitment, perception of qualifications, and political ambition. Although these previous analyses have shown that consistent dissimilarities likely explain why men outnumber women in government, they have overlooked a more explicit role for gender (masculinity and femininity) in explanations of candidate emergence variation.
Meredith Conroy and Sarah Oliver focus on the candidate emergence process (recruitment, perceived qualifications, and ambition), and investigate the affects of individuals’ gender personality on these variables to improve theories of women’s underrepresentation in government. They argue that since politics and masculinity are congruent, we should observe more precise variation in the candidate emergence process along gender differences, than along sex differences in isolation. Individuals who are more masculine will be more likely to be recruited, perceive of themselves as qualified, and express political ambition, than less masculine individuals. This differs from studies that look at sex differences, because it accepts that some women defy gender norms and break into politics. By including a measure of gender personality we can more fully grapple with women’s progress in American politics, and consider whether this progress rests on masculine behaviors and attributes. Who Runs? The Masculine Advantage in Candidate Emergence explores this possibility and the potential ramifications.