Alternate Theories On Women 's Underrepresentation

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Alternate Theories on Women’s Underrepresentation Initially it was thought that women were underrepresented in politics and elected office because they were underrepresented in the “eligibility pool” (Welch, 1978, 372). The idea was that women were socialized to believe that their duty was in the home raising children. As such, there were very few women in the “eligibility pool,” the typical jobs that have a tendency to lend themselves to a future in public office: law, business, and medicine among others (Welch, 1978, 373). This line of reasoning would suggest that all that has to be done to increase the proportion of women in public office is to increase their presence in such fields and disciplines (Fox, Lawless, and Feeley, 2001, 412). This explanation, however, falls short. The proportion of women in these careers has increased immensely and yet the disparity still persists (Fox and Lawless, 2011, 60). When considering potential factors that contribute to women’s underrepresentation in elected office, another thought may be that perhaps voters just do not vote for women. Research shows that when women run they tend to win at the same rate as men and, furthermore, there is little evidence to suggest any kind of systemic bias against women at the polls (Lawless and Pearson, 2008, 67). However, additional research into the matter has qualified this claim. There is evidence that voters tend to view “masculine” characteristics—being self-confident, assertive, tough, and

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