Historic background of female participation in legislatures

This research investigated the performance of women in primary and general election and election for the U. S. House of Representatives, which took place during 1958-2004. The data of the research were based on the survey of 33,100 primary candidates (Lawless & Pearson, 2006). The research shows clearly that the situation of women in politics has changed greatly starting from the year 1958. There was a considerable increase of the number of women, who run for the general elections and succeed in this activity; there have been also more women, who entered congressional primaries.

One of the most prominent cornerstones, which promoted women’s participation in political sphere, was the women’s movement of the 1970s. This is proven by the fact that since that time there have been more women entering primaries. The gap between the success of women in general and primary election narrowed too (Lawless & Pearson, 2006). The same research showed that this process in not the same in Democratic and Republican party. Thus, the progress for Democratic women is more obvious than that for Republican women. So, during the period from 1958 to 2004 2,652 women participated in primaries for the U.

S. House of Representatives. This number constitutes the total of 8 % of all House primary candidates. With time the number of women, who participated in congressional primaries, raised greatly. The gradual increase in female participants began in 1972, which was highly due to the rise of the women’s movement. The lowest level of female participation was observed in 1970. Then only 34 or 2. 7 % of candidates were women. The greatest increase happened in 1992, which was called the “Year of the Woman”. Then the number of women running in the primaries rose to 219 or 12.

4 %, which was a considerable increase if compared with 116 women in the previous cycle. However, later we can still observe a decrease of this number. In 2004 only 197 women or 15. 4 % ran in primaries (Lawless & Pearson, 2006). Research conducted by Zeke Campfield showed that women now constitute 13. 5 % of the U. S. Congress, 8 % of governorships and 22. 4 % of state legislatures (Zeke, 2001). UW junior Jessy Tolkan, who participated in a city council election in 2000, gave her explanation of the women participation in politics:

“It’s more difficult for a woman to run for public office than a man. When campaigning I always had to be with a man. I hated that because of the world we live in I couldn’t do it alone” (Zeke, 2001). Possible future trends So, based on the statistic data, provided in this chapter, we can conclude that in spite of the fact that there is considerable progress in the representation of women in politics; still we can observe substantial leveling off of the number of women in legislative and governing positions, which is puzzling and alarming sign.

The same tendency may be observed in women’s representation among governors and members of Congress (Carroll, 2004). However, there are still some positive developments for women in state government. It was reported that the number of women governors has increased over the last few years. Researchers name several factors, which are responsible for the decrease of women in elective and state legislative offices. One of the most important of them is definitely a problem of effective recruitment.

The possible solution of the problem was seen in implementation of term limits for legislative seats. However, in spite of the good idea this measure has not lead to the increase of the women presentation in legislatures (Carroll, 2001, p. 19) The other interesting fact was discovered in the other research, which reported that in comparison with men women are less likely to be “self-starters. ” It means that women decide to start their political careers mainly after the other people encourage them. This finding was supported by the other one, which focused on the study of party candidates.

The findings of the research showed that only 11 % of women reported that the idea to run the office was entirely their own, which could be compared with 37 % of men. The same research showed that the number of women, who decided to pursue their political career after somebody else’s suggestion, was considerably higher than the number of men (37 % compared with 18 %) (Carroll & Strimling, 1983). Findings of the researches like this prove that position of women in politics is quite unstable and their future depends greatly on the efforts made in order to secure women participation in elected and appointed positions.