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Women & Politics Institute

Policy Reports

Not a ‘Year of the Woman’...and 2036 Doesn’t Look So Good Either

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The 2014 election saw some incredible firsts for women: Republican Joni Ernst was elected the first woman to represent Iowa in the U.S. Senate; and Mia Love, a Republican from Utah, became the first black woman ever elected in the Republican Party to Congress. But when historians look back on the 2014 election, it will not be dubbed the "Year of the Woman," and the next several election cycles will likely fall short as well, write Jennifer L. Lawless and Richard L. Fox. Read the report here

It’s the Family, Stupid? Not Quite...How Traditional Gender Roles Do Not Affect Women’s Political Ambition

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Following Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy announcement in April of 2014, media outlets speculated whether the future grandchild to Hillary Clinton would impact her potential presidential campaign in 2016. In this research paper, Jennifer Lawless addresses the question of whether family roles and responsibilities affect a potential candidate's political career. Lawless analyzes both female and male candidates and finds that traditional roles and responsibilities have little influence on candidates’ decision to run for office. Read the report here

Girls Just Wanna Not Run

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Studies of women and men who are well-situated to run for office uncover a persistent gender gap in political ambition. Among “potential candidates” – lawyers, business leaders, educators, and political activists – women are less likely than men to express interest in a political career. Given the emergence over the past ten years of high-profile women in politics, such as Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachmann, though, the landscape of U.S. politics looks to be changing. Perhaps young women are now just as motivated as young men to enter the electoral arena. Maybe young women envision future candidacies at similar rates as their male counterparts. Until now, no research has provided an analysis – let alone an in-depth investigation – of these topics. Read the report here

Men Rule: The Continued Under-Representation
of Women in U.S. Politics

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Study after study finds that, when women run for office, they perform just as well as their male counterparts. No differences emerge in women and men’s fundraising receipts, vote totals, or electoral success. Yet women remain severely under-represented in U.S. political institutions. We argue that the fundamental reason for women’s under-representation is that they do not run for office. There is a substantial gender gap in political ambition; men tend to have it, and women don’t. Read the report here

Why Are Women Still Not Running for Office?

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Extensive research shows that when women run for office, they perform just as well as men. Yet women remain severely under-represented in our political institutions. In this report, we argue that the fundamental reason for women’s under-representation is that they do not run for office. There is a substantial gender gap in political ambition; men tend to have it, and women don’t. Read the report here