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CAWP Election Watch

Women candidates and their campaigns: the latest info, trends and historical context.

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Research by CAWP Scholars

CAWP scholars are among the nation's leading experts in the study of women's political participation and representation in the United States. Their research and announcements:

More research and scholarship can be found on our Research Topics page.


More Women Can RunMore Women Can Run: Gender and Pathways to the State Legislatures
Susan Carroll and Kira Sanbonmatsu, Oxford University Press, September 2013
Analyzing nationwide surveys of state legislators conducted by CAWP, More Women Can Run challenges assumptions of a single model of candidate emergence with a relationally embedded model of candidacy. It reorients research on women's election to office and offers strategies for political practitioners concerned about women's political equality. Order here.
Video of a book talk given by Carroll and Sanbonmatsu available here.

Preparedness Meets Opportunity: Women's Increased Representation in the New Jersey Legislature
Susan Carroll and Kelly Dittmar, Center for American Women and Politics, July 2012
This paper examines the factors that account for the rapid rise in the numbers of women legislators in New Jersey, focusing primarily on the time period from 2004 through 2011. Central to the analysis is the question of what it would take to bring about enduring change in a political system characterized by a strong, male-dominated party system like that found in New Jersey.

"Life's A Party: Do Political Parties Help or Hinder Women?"
Harvard Review - Women in Power - Spring 2010Kira Sanbonmatsu, Harvard International Review, Spring 2010.
Sanbonmatsu evaluates the role of political parties in electing women to office, drawing on important findings from the recent Center for American Women and Politics report, Poised to Run. She argues that the history of U.S. parties indicates that women’s organizations and movements, women leaders, and women voters are the keys to making political parties a help rather than a hindrance to women’s representation.

“Organizing American Politics, Organizing Gender”

Book chapter by Kira Sanbonmatsu in The Oxford Handbook of American Elections and Political Behavior, Ed. Jan E. Leighley.
Oxford University Press, 2010, 800 pages
This edited volume contains chapters by leading experts in the field of American elections and political behavior. Sanbonmatsu's chapter reviews research on gender differences in mass behavior and candidacy. She argues that future scholarship should focus on understanding the conditions under which gender structures political behavior and elections. In addition to calling for research on when gender as a social category is cued in politics, she argues that elections can create gender as a category: political behavior and elections themselves can shape beliefs about gender, instructing society about what men and women are like. The book is available here from Oxford University Press.

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Poised to Run: Women's Pathways to State Legislatures

Poised to RunKira Sanbonmatsu, Susan J. Carroll, Debbie Walsh
Center for American Women and Politics, 2009
This report provides an unprecedented look at how women reach the legislatures and how women’s election to office has changed over time. Using data from the most comprehensive nationwide survey of legislators ever conducted, the 2008 CAWP Recruitment Study, it compares women with their male colleagues in their decisions to seek office, previous political experience, and personal background.

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Security Moms and Presidential Politics: Women Voters in the 2004 Election

Book chapter by Susan J. Carroll in Voting the Gender Gap, Ed. Lois Duke Whitaker
Voting the Gender GapUniversity of Illinois Press, 2008, 232 pages
This book concentrates on the gender gap in voting--the difference in the proportion of women and men voting for the same candidate. Evident in every presidential election since 1980, this polling phenomenon reached a high of 11 percentage points in the 1996 election. Contributors discuss the history, complexity, and ways of analyzing the gender gap in voting; the gender gap in relation to partisanship; motherhood, ethnicity, and the impact of parental status on the gender gap; and the gender gap in races involving female candidates. The book is available from Amazon.

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“Do Gender Stereotypes Transcend Party?”

Kira Sanbonmatsu and Kathleen Dolan
September 2009 in Political Research Quarterly
Voters hold stereotypes about candidate gender and candidate party. Yet, little is known about the intersection of gender and party stereotypes. This paper investigates whether gender stereotypes transcend party, considering whether gender stereotypes affect women politicians differently by party and examining the effect of partisan identification on gender stereotypes. Sanbonmatsu and Dolan find that the public perceives gender differences within both political parties. Thus, the presence of the party cue does not preclude a role for candidate gender. However, the authors also find that the implications of gender stereotypes are somewhat different for Democratic and Republican women. Available from Political Research Quarterly.

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“Representation by Gender and Parties”

Book chapter by Kira Sanbonmatsu in Political Women and American Democracy, Eds. Christina Wolbrecht, Karen Beckwith, and Lisa Baldez
Cambridge University Press, 2008, 272 pages
This book provides scholarly research by leading experts in the field of women and politics research. Sanbonmatsu's chapter is a review essay of scholarship on gender and political parties. She argues that future research should integrate theories about descriptive representation with theories about party representation. The book is available from Amazon.

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“Gender Stereotypes and Attitudes Toward Gender Balance in Government”

Kathleen Dolan and Kira Sanbonmatsu
May 2009 in American Politics Research
The desire to elect more women to public office is likely to affect a range of political behaviors and may explain the relatively low levels of women’s descriptive representation overall. Yet, little is known about the public’s view of the ideal gender composition of government. Dolan and Sanbonmatsu find that the public expresses a preference for higher levels of women’s representation than the country has experienced. Women are more likely than men to express a view, though men and women do not differ in their preferences on the ideal percentage of male officeholders. Dolan and Sanbonmatsu examine the role of gender stereotypes and the experience of being represented by women officeholders in shaping support for women’s representation. Available from American Politics Research.

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She's the Candidate! A Woman for President

Ruth B. Mandel
Book chapter in Women and Leadership: The State of Play and Strategies for Change, Eds. Barbara Kellerman and Deborah L. Rhode
Jossey-Bass J-B Warren Bennis Series, 2007, 528 pages
Women and Leadership: The State of Play and Strategies for Change Women and Leadership brings together in one comprehensive volume preeminent scholars from a range of disciplines to address the challenges involving women and leadership. The experts explore when and how women exercise power and what stands in their way, including current thinking on the perils of stereotypes, the importance of leadership style, gender differences in the decision to seek leadership roles, lessons from women leaders, “opt out” patterns and the need for flexible career paths, global inequalities and initiatives, and strategies that get women to the top. The book is available from Amazon here - order through this link and a portion of the proceeds goes to CAWP.

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"Gender Pools and Puzzles: Charting a 'Women's Path' to the Legislature"

Politics & Gender 2006, Volume 2 (September)
Politics & GenderThe “social eligibility pool” stands as one of the most common, and most powerful, explanations for women's underrepresentation in elective office. In this article, Sanbonmatsu revisits the eligibility pool account of women's representation and argues that it has significant shortcomings as a causal explanation. She proposes that scholars direct their attention to how changes occur in beliefs about the types of backgrounds that are thought to be desirable in politicians—the “informal qualifications” for public office. She suggests that scholars work to identify the conditions under which women can take a “women's path” to the legislature from female-dominated occupations. Article available here.

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"Political Parties and the Recruitment of Women to State Legislatures"

Journal of Politics 2002, Volume 64 (August)
This article analyzes the role of political parties in shaping women's representation across the U.S. states. Using data from 1971 to 1999, Sanbonmatsu analyzes several hypotheses about how party affects women's recruitment to the lower houses of state legislatures. She argues that the incentive structure facing potential women candidates is somewhat different for Democratic and Republican women. The social eligibility pool, legislative professionalism, and partisan composition of the legislature affect women's representation differently by party. Rather than assuming a single path for women to elective office, this research implies that it is necessary to disaggregate women by party in order to understand the pattern of where women run for and hold state legislative office.
Article available here.

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CAWP Series in Gender and American Politics

The CAWP Series in Gender and American Politics is published by the University of Michigan Press in association with the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University. Series editors are Susan J. Carroll (Rutgers University) and Kira Sanbonmatsu (Rutgers University).
The Series publishes innovative work on gender and politics. We invite manuscripts that push the boundaries of current thinking about the intersection of gender and politics; that demonstrate the centrality of gender to our understanding of American democracy; that are attentive to linkages among theory, empirical analysis, and political practice; and that study under-represented groups and under-researched topics within the field of women and politics. We encourage work that recognizes how other categories of analysis, including race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality, help to constitute and inform gender politics. The series is open to a variety of methodological approaches, and favors projects that employ multiple or innovative methods.

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