Needed: A Kickass Woman Political Archetype

I just read a new paper out by Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox titled 'Why Are Women Still Not Running for Public Office?'.  Right now, America is 84th in the world in terms of percentage women in our legislature, with a whopping 16.3% of our seats in the House and Senate held by women.  That is not only below Uganda, Burundi, and Cuba, it is lower than the international average itself.

Why is this?  It's not, as Lawless and Fox note, because it is harder for women to win than men.  And it's not because qualified women don't exist  The problem is just that women don't seem to think they should or can run compared to men of similar demographic status and accomplishment.  Part of this is cultural, and part of it is infrastructure, as women just aren't recruited as often as men (organizations like EMILY's List and She Should Run are set up to deal with this problem).

One of the consequences of this cultural problem is that progressive citizens run less than their share of the population, and conservatives run disproportionately higher than their share of the population.
Women in the sample, on average, are three years younger than men, a probable result of the fact that women's entry into the fields of law and business is a relatively recent phenomenon. Further, women are more likely to be Democrats and liberal-leaning, while men are more likely to be Republicans and conservative, a finding consistent with recent polls showing a partisan gender gap among the general U.S. population.

This pattern of who runs drives how progressive our politics is quite directly.  If you look at the caucus, and Chris and I did last week, you'll see the pattern instantly.

The more women in office, the more progressives in office.  There's good news in the report - since 2001, there has been an uptick in women doing the things that precede running for office, such as building a fundraising network and being recruited for office.  And women are inspired across parties by women in positions of power such as Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, and Condoleeza Rice.  In the Republican Party, 17 percent of women, compared to 4 percent of men find Hillary Clinton 'inspirational'.


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