Why Aren't More Women Running for Political Office and What Can We Do About It?
"Women belong in all places where decisions are being made." - Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
At first, it might appear that Women in Politics are everywhere. After all, we have the first female Vice President Kamala Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – the only speaker in 70 years to have won the office twice, and Liz Cheney with a Leadership Role in a Congressional Committee. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert are social media stars, and AOC is a household acronym.
Academic studies find that when women run for office, they perform just as well as men – they raise as much money, win as many votes, and claim victory just as often. Despite the women make up more than half of the population - why aren’t there more women running for political office?
There are a number of reasons why women don’t run for political office. Some of these reasons include:
· Gender stereotypes. Women are often stereotyped as being less competent and less qualified than men for leadership positions. This can discourage women from running for office, even if they have the skills and experience necessary to be successful. When a woman considers running for office, she will decide that she’s not qualified if she doesn’t have, say, a law degree and a business degree, and public policy experience. When men are asked what qualifications they have, they say things like passion and vision. Let’s face it, it is a lot easier to have passion and vision than numerous advanced degrees.
· Women are less likely than men to be recruited to run for office. Men have been far more likely to receive the suggestion to run for office, and they have, for their entire lives, received messages that suggest to them that they are qualified. Women are less likely than men to be recruited or consider running for office, even though women are just as likely as men to win their elections.
· Work-life balance. Women are more likely than men to be the primary caregivers for children and aging family members. This can make it difficult to balance the demands of a political campaign with the demands of a family.
· Violence and harassment. Women who run for political office are more likely to be subject to violence and harassment than men. This can be a major deterrent for women who are considering running for office.
These are just some of the reasons why women don’t run for political office. It is important to address these barriers in order to increase women’s representation in government.
Here are some things that can be done to encourage more women to run for political office:
· Challenge gender stereotypes. We need to challenge the stereotypes that women are less competent and less qualified than men for leadership positions. This can be done through education and awareness campaigns.
· Provide more support for women candidates. We need to provide more support for women candidates, including financial support, campaign training, and mentorship. These can help to level the playing field for women candidates.
· Make it easier for women to balance work and family. We need to make it easier for women to balance the demands of a political campaign with the demands of a family. This can be done by providing flexible work arrangements, childcare, and elder parents’ support, and paid family leave.
· End violence and harassment against women in politics. This can be done by passing laws that protect women from violence and harassment, and by educating the public about the issue.
Running for political office isn’t for everybody. If men and women were equally likely to consider running, and women were systematically more likely than men to write it off – then yes, we will have more men running for office. The issue that should be addressed - is that running for office is significantly less likely to appear on a women’s radar screen in the first place.
If you or a woman you know would consider running for office, there are 8 political organizations that can help. They are - Emily’s List. She Should Run. National Women’s Political Caucus. Women’s Campaign Fund. Ignite. Running Start. Victory Institute. National Federation of Republican Women.