Closing the Gender Gap in Women's Representation in Public Office: Examining Methods to Recruit Female Candidates
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Leading into the 2014 midterm elections, women formed close to one fifth of the officials representing the nation in Congress. In statewide positions and lower levels, women are still noticeably underrepresented in both parties. These statistics are particularly troubling because research shows that when women run for office they are just as likely as men to win their races. It is clear that part of reason why women are underrepresented is because they are not efficiently recruited. This study draws on qualitative data, including interviews with officeholders, candidates, and potential candidates as well as party and organizational recruiters and gatekeepers, to explore the approaches towards the recruitment and support of female candidates. In addition, this project also examines in depth current national level recruitment strategies targeted towards women by the Democratic and Republican parties. This thesis seeks to answer the following questions: How does political recruitment work for women? What strategies are being utilized by the two major parties as well as outside organizations, and how effective are these efforts? Ultimately, this study explores how female candidates are being recruited and whether these methods are effective in helping address the underrepresentation of women in office.