Men, Women and Politics: A World of Difference

Jennifer Lawless
Jennifer Lawless
American University

Jennifer Lawless is a nationally recognized expert on women’s involvement in politics. She is the author of Becoming a Candidate: Political Ambition and the Decision to Run for Office and the co-author of the book, It Still Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don’t Run for Office. She has also issued several policy reports on the barriers that impede women’s candidate emergence.

Overview

Men and Women in Politics

Study after study finds that when women run for office, they perform as well as men, both in terms of the amount of money they raise and the votes they receive. Yet women remain severely under-represented in U.S. politics. When Congress convened in January 2013, 81% of its members were men. Men occupy the governor’s mansion in 45 of the 50 states, and they run City Hall in 88 of the 100 largest cities across the country.

The Difference Between Men and Women in Politics

In this lecture, Jennifer Lawless explains why this is the case. Based on multiple national surveys she conducted of more than 10,000 “eligible candidates” in 2001, 2008, and 2010, she finds that women, even in the highest tiers of professional accomplishment, are substantially less likely than men to demonstrate ambition to seek elective office. Women are less likely than men to be recruited to run for office, and they are less likely than men to think they are qualified to run for office. Despite cultural evolution and society’s changing attitudes toward women in politics, running for public office remains a much less attractive and feasible endeavor for women than for men. In addition, research shows that men and women often differ substatially in their attitudes towards candidates at ever political level, and Professor Lawless will discuss these findings as well.

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