Why Women Don't Run for Office
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Since the evolution of women’s rights and social movements, there has been an increase in the number of political scholars exploring the role gender plays in politics. Many researchers’ studies have been motivated by the underlying premise that a government dominated by male elected officials is biased against the election of women and does not fairly represent the public, particularly the interests of women. Previous research has provided reasons as to why women are less likely to consider public office, but not so much as to why women who have/are in public office don’t seek higher public offices. Are men and women who have held the same position in public office equally likely to consider running for higher public office? Are the differences between men and women and their decision to run for high public office a result of their political ambition? Does traditional sex-role socialization play a role in how women and men think about seeking public office? Lawless! and Fox have conducted several studies as to why women don’t run for public office, based on survey responses. Since then, there has not been any work, to my knowledge, that examines why women don’t run for office based on case studies of women and men who have previously held/ hold public office. Consequently, in this paper I examine the reasons why women don’t run for office using case studies. To determine why women do not run for office I use case studies of Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Nancy Pelosi, and John Boehner, examining their political ambition, qualifications, and the media’s reactions to them. My analyses demonstrate that women don’t run for office because of their lack of political ambition. Much like previous research, my findings are not supportive of my hypothesis that there is biasness against the representation of women in public office, in fact, my findings suggest that women and men are reported both negatively and positively at the same rate. Similar to some of Lawless and Fox’s studies, I find that women are just as qualified as men, if not more qualified than their male counterparts seeking office. Furthermore, my findings suggest that women’s lack of political ambition is the main reason as to why they don't run for office. Consequently, I believe these findings have important implications for scholars studying women’s political ambition and/or the lack there of and why this may be.