Why Aren't Women Running? Addressing the Underrepresentation of Female American Politicians Through the Leadership Valuation Gap




Cooper, Danielle

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The main aim of this paper is to examine the underrepresentation of women in United States elected office and then to propose a psychological explanation for this phenomenon. To do so, I discuss potential disadvantages that women face in running for office. Then, I analyze recent gender trends within American government. From there, I evaluate different factors that may influence a woman’s desire to run for office. I qualify two existing explanations for women’s underrepresentation, the political ambition gap theory and leadership ambition gap theory, by proposing the concept of a “leadership valuation gap.” After establishing this notion, I investigate its effects on the current American political system. Finally, I discuss public policy initiatives that could address the leadership valuation gap, providing real-world accounts from female American politicians and data from a survey that I conducted.



Political Science, Leadership, Gender Studies