Possible Explanation of the Underrepresentation of Women in Politics

Due to the existing problem there happened increase of the number of the researches, focusing not on the increasing presentation of women in politics, but on problems associated with their election to Congress. Numerous researches showed that in their pursue for Congress seats women win at the same rates as men. On the other hand, these researches focus greatly on general elections, not on the congressional primaries. However, it should be mentioned that it is of the great importance to win a congressional primary as this is a prerequisite to running in the general election (Lawless & Pearson, 2006).

Uniqueness of the electoral competition in the USA lies in the dominance of candidates not political parties. It should be also mentioned that candidate-centered model is characteristic feature of the present-day congressional primaries (Lawless & Pearson, 2006). One of the researches conducted by Gary Jacobson shows some changes, which took place between the 1950s and 1980s: “The electoral importance of individual candidates and campaigns expanded, while that of party labels and national issues diminished” (Jacobson, 2004, p. 23).

It should be mentioned that party does not have a great influence of the nomination of the candidates to run for office. In financial and logistical terms it also gives only minor support to candidates for elective positions. This leads to the fact that in their pursue for the major positions, candidates should build their own prominent political image, build coalitions and create their campaign strategies. Thus, separate candidates ensure recognition of their own name apart from the political background of their political party (Lawless & Pearson, 2006).

This system of competition presents considerable challenges for women running for public office. Although it is not easy for any candidate to become prominent and recognizable, this problem is particularly typical for women, who generally face other significant obstacle. Lawless and Fox explain these difficulties the following way: “Navigating the candidate emergence process involves relying on and utilizing the types of backgrounds, experiences, and characteristics that have historically been impressed upon men, but discouraged among women” (Lawless and Fox, 2005).

So, we can say that the entrance of women to public office is greatly hampered by the candidate-centered system existing in the USA. This idea has been supported in the numerous researches (Davis, 1997; Darcy, Hadley and Kirksey, 1993). There exist numerous theories of women underrepresentation in politics, dwelling on the statistic data of male-female correlation, problems experienced by women in their political pursue and possible ways of increase of the number of women in the political sphere.

Let’s have a closer look at the several theories of the women underrepresentation in congress. There are many researchers, who study the problems of women in politics and try to provide valid explanations of the current situation, when women are badly represented in the political life of the United States. This study has begun a few decades ago and gradually the view on the reasons of women underrepresentation in politics changed.

At first, scholars assumed that exclusion of women from the political life of the country was due to the gender discrimination and bias against female candidates (Lawless & Pearson, 2006). It should be noted that this belief could be true some two decades ago. However, with the change of time the feminist movement and the fighters for human rights and gender equity changed the public opinion and caused the evolution of the public mind concerning women in politics. This led to the increase of the number of women, who fought for and won election to public office.