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

See all articles by Richard L. Fox

Richard L. Fox

Loyola Marymount University

Jennifer L. Lawless

American University

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Fox, Richard L. and Lawless, Jennifer L., Reconciling Family Roles with Political Ambition: The New Normal for Women in 21st Century U.S. Politics (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2108135

Richard L. Fox

Loyola Marymount University ( email )

7900 Loyola Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90045
United States

Jennifer L. Lawless (Contact Author)

American University ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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