Men Rule: New Study Gives 7 Reasons Women Don’t Run for Office

Image via iStockPhoto/rabbit5_ist

Men still rule the school when it comes to the world of politics.

I know that’s not really news, but it’s good to have someone do a study about this sort of thing just to remind us that the more things change (there are more women in elective office today than a couple of decades ago), the more things stay the same (the numbers haven’t changed all that much in the last decade).

There are still only 17 women in the Senate and only 17% percent of the seats on the House of Representatives are held by women.  Talk about a glass ceiling.

Yes, I know a few people who are trying to change the dynamic of political conversation.  But female political representation is actually down and fewer women are running for elective office, even though every election cycle these days gets touted as a “year of the woman.”

The just-released report that looks at the state of things for political women is called “Men Rule: The Continued Under-Representation of Women in U.S. Politics,” authored by the same academics who brought us the book,  It Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don’t Run for Office.

Here are the seven reasons contained in the report for why men still rule the political world:

1. Women are more likely than men to perceive the electoral environment as highly competitive and biased against female candidates,

2. Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin’s candidacies aggravated women’s perceptions of gender bias in the electoral arena,

3. Women are much less likely than men to think they are qualified to run for office,

4. Female potential candidates are less competitive, less confident, and more risk averse than their male counterparts,

5. Women react more negatively than men to many aspects of modern campaigns,

6. Women are less likely than men to receive the suggestion to run for office – from anyone, and

7. Women are still responsible for the majority of childcare and household tasks.

Do any of these surprise you?  I certainly didn’t fall off my chair when I read them.  Now, I’m a big fan of the whole ‘women should rule the world’ idea, but I also recognize the fact that it would be nice to accomplish that without all the name-calling and family-bashing and, let’s just say it, lying that goes on in the world of politics, especially when it’s played out on the big stage.  Who can blame women, or men for that matter, for wanting the steer clear if the mean-spirited vitriol that is political standard operating procedure.

One of the main reasons I quit practicing law was because I was tired of the uncountable number of lawyers (mostly men, I must say) refused to play nicely and by the rules, who would try every dirty trick in the book, including personal attacks, to win their cases.  So I can’t imagine making my life worse than it was then to run for office.

Life is just to short for that crap.  And while I am a political junkie and will write about it and analyze the world of political goings-on, I will never run for office because I’d never subject my family to it.  It makes me wonder why men are OK with letting their families suffer.  There are many organizations dedicated to convincing women to step up and run for office.  And I admire that and I acknowledge that we won’t be able to create a political environment we want until more women are ready to jump into the fray.  I just don’t see that happening until things are a little more civil in the political world.

My good friend Karen was sort of begging people to step up and do something about this.  I certainly hear what she’s saying.   But I’m not holding my breath that we’ll see more women jumping into the political arena in my lifetime.  Unless I live to be about 150, that is.

  • I think #7 is a huge one. Being primary manager of the household and run a campaign and lead while in office is tough. A lot of female politicians raised their children first and ran for office later. I have heard that you can do it all, just not at the same time… (

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