It’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:
- Young men are more likely than young women to be socialized by their parents to consider politics for a career.
- In school, among friends and when consuming media, young women tend to be exposed less than young men to political information and discussion.
- Young women are less likely to have played organized sports and developed a taste for winning.
- Young women are less likely than young men to receive encouragement to run for office—from anyone.
- 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.
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?