Reconciling Family Roles with Political Ambition: The New Normal for Women in 21st Century U.S. Politics
44 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2012 Last revised: 30 Sep 2014
Date Written: 2012
Based on data from the 2011 Citizen Political Ambition Study - a national survey of nearly 4,000 “potential candidates” for all levels of office - we provide the first thorough analysis of the manner in which traditional family arrangements affect the initial decision to run for office. Despite a substantial gender gap in political ambition, and the persistence of traditional family structures and gender roles among potential candidates, our findings reveal that traditional family dynamics do not account for the gender gap in interest in running for office. Neither marital and parental status, nor the division of labor pertaining to household tasks and childcare, predict political ambition, regardless of how we measure it. This is not to downplay the fact that the gender gap in political ambition remains substantial and static, but it is to suggest that family arrangements are not a primary contributing factor.
Keywords: political ambition, family roles, candidate emergence, gender
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