Claims of bias against female candidates abound in American politics. From superficial media coverage to gender stereotypes held by voters, the conventional wisdom is that women routinely encounter a formidable series of obstacles that complicate their path to elective office.
Women on the Run challenges that prevailing view and argues that the declining novelty of women in politics, coupled with the polarization of the Republican and Democratic parties, has left little space for the sex of a candidate to influence modern campaigns.
The book includes in-depth analyses of the 2010 and 2014 congressional elections, which reveal that male and female House candidates communicate similar messages on the campaign trail, receive similar coverage in the local press, and garner similar evaluations from voters in their districts.
When they run for office, male and female candidates not only perform equally well on Election Day - they also face a very similar electoral landscape.
“Hayes and Lawless tackle the conventional wisdom about bias against females in political campaigns and find that women actually do as well as men when they run. The problem is getting them to seek office because when they run, female candidates are very successful at raising money, conducting professional campaigns, getting media attention, and attracting votes. This is a smart and carefully researched analysis by two leading scholars of American elections.” -Darrell M. West, Brookings Institution
“Relying on new data and careful analysis, Hayes and Lawless demonstrate the gap between perception and reality and make convincing arguments about the sources of that gap. Anyone who wants to understand the impact of candidate sex and gender in U.S. elections needs to read this book.” -Kathleen Dolan, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
“A lot of what we think we know about gender and electoral politics in the U.S. is based on intuition. In Women on the Run, Hayes and Lawless provide a welcome corrective. Relying on a variety of novel empirical data sets, the authors craft a thoughtful, engaging, and compelling story of (dare we say it?) gender equity: female candidates fare about as well as their male counterparts in recent American elections. Polarized politics and the declining novelty of female candidates have created the level playing field we usually dismiss as out of reach. In telling this story, Hayes and Lawless do what political scientists everywhere aspire to, but rarely achieve: they tell us something we don’t know about relevant political questions.” -Daron Shaw, Distinguished Teaching Professor and Frank C. Erwin, Jr. Chair of State Politics, University of Texas at Austin
“As the President of a national organization dedicated to recruiting and training Democratic women to run for office, I have spoken with countless women who are hesitant to run because they fear harsh media scrutiny. Finally, we have an important and thoroughly researched book that demonstrates that the ‘novelty’ of female politicians, as well as party polarization, have significantly leveled the playing field. When we encourage women to run for office, we can now say with confidence that the media will not treat them any better or worse than their male counterparts. Eliminating this psychological obstacle can have a tremendous impact on women who are considering a potential bid for political office.” -Andrea Dew Steele, President and Founder of Emerge America