U.s. Politics And Elective Offices

1942 WordsApr 5, 20168 Pages
It is well known that there are fewer women serving in U.S. politics and elective offices than there are men. According to the 2010 census, women make up 50.8% of the population, yet in 2016 women comprise only 19.4% of Congress, 24.7% of statewide elective executive offices, and 24.5% of state legislatures (Howden and Meyer 2011; Center for the American Woman and Politics [CAWP] 2016). In fact, in the world ranking of women in national legislatures the United States comes in at number 95 out of 191 (Inter-Parliamentary Union 2016). Clearly there is a dearth of women serving in elected office, but it is not clear why this is the case. Several theories have been put forth to explain the underrepresentation of women in politics including the existence of separate men’s and women’s issues, low prevalence in the eligibility pool, voter bias and stereotypes, recruitment obstacles, and institutional barriers (Sapiro, 1981; Welch, 1978; Lawless, 2004; Devitt, 1999; Sanbonmatsu, 2006; Fox and Lawless, 2004). An additional obstacle is the way women perceive their own qualifications for office. The conventional explanation for the reason women underestimate their qualifications is traditional gender socialization. The idea is that women have been socialized to view politics as a career for men, not women, and so women believe they are not qualified enough to enter that realm (Lawless and Fox, 2010). I posit that it may also be attributed to the presence of exceptionally
Open Document