Year of Publication

2016

College

Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Summary

Substantive representation of women in elected positions is an area where The United States is lacking. Within the United States Congress, women are disproportionately less likely to be elected to office and it is much of the same at the state level. Nationally, women hold only 104 (19.4%) of the 535 seats in the United States Congress as of 2015 (8). At the state level, women fare somewhat better. Women comprise 24.2 percent of state legislatures nationwide (9). In the state of Kentucky, women hold 25 seats in the state legislature or 18.1 percent. This is far from equal or representative of the population, especially since women make up over half the population in the state of Kentucky (10).

In Why Don’t Women Run For Office? (2004), Lawless and Fox suggest that there are five areas that could potentially lessen the political gender gap, which vary in expected effectiveness. Those five areas are: attitudes about campaigning, age and party affiliation and income, recruitment, family circumstances, and perceptions of electoral prospects. The area of focus for this analysis is the political organization recruiting and encouraging women to run for office. I seek to test how effective having the encouragement and support of a political organization is to women deciding to run for an elected office.

Women often do not think of themselves qualified or capable of holding an elected position and just need a bit of encouragement to step into the arena. Is this the determining factor as to whether or not a woman will decide not run for an elected position? Once those women have been encouraged and recruited, are they more likely to run for office? I seek to delve into the whether or not that makes a difference.

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