Why More Women Don’t Hold Office

Jennifer Lawless, a political science professor at Brown University, author, with Richard Fox, of It Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don’t Run for Office, describes the barriers to public office women face.

Why More Women Don’t Hold Office

Gender bias and sexism heighten women’s inclinations to doubt their abilities. After all, they are accustomed to operating in an environment where they feel they face a double standard and a doubting atmosphere. It follows that even women who think they are qualified to run for public office believe they need to be more qualified than men just to compete evenly. In fact, women who think they’re qualified to run for public office tend to state very specific credentials. In contrast, most men do not make specific linkages between their professions and the political environment. Instead, they reference passion, leadership, and vision. An attorney from Oklahoma captured this distinction well when he explained that “All you need is the desire to serve. That makes you qualified for the job. You can learn the details of policymaking later.”

Sounds about right. Why do we need to feel so qualified but men only need to want to serve? But that sure explains our government.


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