This Is Why Women Don’t Run for Office

Alden Wicker

women in officeIt’s catchy, but let’s face it: Beyoncé’s song, “Who Run the World? (Girls)” is way off.

Women hold just 18.1% of congressional seats, 23.4% of statewide elected positions,   24% of state legislative positions and 12% of mayorships in the 100 largest U.S. cities. It was seen as cataclysmic last fall when 20 women headed to the Senate.

So no, girls do not run the world. And a new report from American University titled, “Girls Just Wanna Not Run” tries to figure out why.

By the time they reach college, young women have often already lost any interest they might have had in a political career. Like with other gender disparities, the reasons are complex, but come down to a mixture of unconscious biases, socialization and the ego gap between men and women. Researchers came up with five main reasons:


  1. Young men are more likely than young women to be socialized by their parents to consider politics for a career.
  2. In school, among friends and when consuming media, young women tend to be exposed less than young men to political information and discussion.
  3. Young women are less likely to have played organized sports and developed a taste for winning.
  4. Young women are less likely than young men to receive encouragement to run for office—from anyone.
  5. Young women are less likely than young men to think they will be qualified to run for office, even once they are established in their careers.

RELATED: Top Job for Women In 2012? It’s the Same as in 1950!

As the report points out, women are actually just as likely as men to win elections once they enter, but they actually have to run first.

To beat the gender gap in political leadership, then, the key isn’t better television ads or media that treats women better during campaigns. The solution is parents and teachers that expose young women to political issues and encourage them to consider politics as a worthy career.

Have you told your daughter that she’d make a good senator lately?

  • Tatiana Efremova

    This isn’t surprising (similar research has been done) but it’s current to today’s younger women, which is good information to have. I know that I would have been in the “not consider” when in that age range. But I’ve noticed that as my competence has grown over the years, I’m comfortable with the idea of running for office down the road – maybe in 10 years or so. And since I don’t exist in a vacuum, I do wonder whether that isn’t more common among women of my generation to recalibrate on the idea of political office as they get along closer to 30 and 40. We’re socialized, but a lot of us go far in shedding the insecurities of youth as we move along in life and careers. To speculate, it’s possible we’re creeping up on a bubble of women who are more likely to run.

  • Chatterbox123

    I wouldn’t run for office, even I felt I was qualified, in today’s climate, because my personal past would be held against me and would be splashed about in the press and in the social media.

  • RealityKing

    Has anyone considered that girls aren’t encouraged to engage in politics because women don’t belong there?

    I’m sure that most having read this far are already snorting accusations of sexism, but what’s wrong with entertaining the reality that men and women are different, and inherently better suited for particular roles. I freely admit that the statements I’m about to make on this subject are only a generalities, but every one of them is true far more often than not, and any thinking person, male or female, knows it.

    Men are designed for leadership. They are generally more logical in decision-making; and more rational, methodic, and pragmatic in executing.

    Men are more resolute in leadership. They are generally more objective; seeing the bigger picture, and denying their own emotions when making decisions. They are less prone to caving to special interests and more willing to accept look beyond short-term pitfalls while pressing aggressively toward the goal. They make no amends for “hurting” people who are actually, in fact, only hurt by their own lack of personal action and responsibility. They reward the industrious rather than the lazy, as it should be.

    Men tend to be more conservative in general than women, making them far better qualified to make thoughtful, responsible decisions rather than indulging in the feel-good idiocy of modern liberalism.

    Now, I’m ready to receive all the irrational, ill-conceived, feminist bashing.

    • Robert Brown

      My daughter got an “A” in Logic in college (and it was actually an “easy A” for her). What grade did you receive?