Running for office is still for men—some data on the ‘Ambition Gap’

Women in Congress and the Ambition Gap
Batten School Professor Jennifer Lawless and co-author Richard L. Fox find that women today are just as unlikely as they were 20 years ago to express interest in running for office.

As the 2022 midterm election season gets underway, speculation is already mounting that it’s going to be another banner year for female candidates. Early reports suggest that Black women and Republican women are especially poised to make historic gains.

But make no mistake, even if 2022 is another so-called “Year of the Woman,” politics is still a man’s game.

At first glance, that claim seems to fly in the face of reality. Women in politics aren’t just running for Congress in 2022. They’re everywhere all across the political spectrum. The vice president and the Speaker of the House are women. Republican Liz Cheney is the face of the congressional committee investigating January 6. Conservative firebrands Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert are social media stars. AOC is a household acronym. And Ballotpedia has already identified 13 Democratic and seven Republican women as prospective presidential candidates for 2024.

But we’ve been studying women and men’s interest in running for office for decades. And overall, women today are just as unlikely as women were 20 years ago to express interest in running for office.

Garrett Hall at Sunset

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