Sunday, November 13, 2011

Women Face High Stakes In 2012: Persuading Women To Run For Office

One reason few women are elected to higher office is that few of them run.
Photo illustration by Christopher Meighan/
The Washington Post
"It's very very difficult to make large gains if women are only competing in about a third of the races," said Lawless, of the Women and Politics Institute. "And so until we really see more women running for office, it's very, very difficult to see increases in the percentage of women holding office."
It's partly about ego. Lawless' research has found that 60 percent of men believe they're fit to run for public office, compared to fewer than 40 percent of women who have the same qualifications. Women are also significantly more likely to let these doubts prevent them from running.
Even today, women also have more family obligations to consider than men do.
"In families where both adults are working, generally in high-level careers, women are 12 times more likely than men to be responsible for the majority of household tasks, and more than 10 times more likely to be responsible for the majority of child care responsibilities," wrote Lawless in 2007.
"A lot of women are supporting their families," said Hirono. "They've got other things in their lives that make it that much harder for them to think about running for office."
"This is a brutal line of work in terms of your privacy and your personal life being criticized," said McCaskill. "Any mistake you make being blown out of proportion, being twisted or distorted. I think that there are many women who believe it doesn't jibe with a strong family life, and I'm the first to acknowledge there are challenges associated with that."
"I feel like, in my life, I've been everything as an elected official," McCaskill added. "I've been single, I've been divorced, I've been pregnant. I've had three small children as a single mom. I've been remarried with a blended family. I've gone through a lot of different steps in my personal life, all while holding elected office, and I think that I can say confidently that while there are challenges, there are also advantages, and a lot of women don't see any of the advantages."
So what's the solution?
A 2009 study by CAWP -- which also runs the nonpartisan 2012 Project designed to inspire women to run for office -- found that nearly twice as many women as men said they had decided to run for political office only after it was suggested to them, whereas men were more likely to come up with the idea on their own.
Lawless has also found that women are four times more likely to seriously consider running for office when the idea is suggested to them.
Sam Bennett ran for Congress in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 2008. She is now president and CEO of the She Should Run Foundation, a nonprofit group focused on getting people to urge more women to run for office and then connecting them with organizations and infrastructure to help them do so.
"Men wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and have been culturally raised and trained to see themselves as political candidates. Women have been raised in a radically different way," said Bennett. "Our culture has trained them not only to not see themselves as political candidates, but to see themselves as uniquely unqualified to run. So that's where the challenge lies."
"This problem will not fix itself -- a banner year of outstanding senatorial candidates not withstanding," she added. "The only thing that's going to fix this is exponentially more women being asked to run for office."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Return To Homepage