Sex as a Political Variable: Women as Candidates and Voters in U.S. Elections

Sex as a Political Variable: Women as Candidates and Voters in U.S. Elections

Sex as a Political Variable: Women as Candidates and Voters in U.S. Elections

Sex as a Political Variable: Women as Candidates and Voters in U.S. Elections

Synopsis

Though women constitute 52 percent of US voters, only 10 percent of the members of Congress and one of the 50 state governors are women. This book presents research and analysis on women as both candidates and voters in US politics, using numerous empirical sources of data.

Excerpt

Ten Myths About Women and Politics

Sex and politics have been an explosive combination ever since women won the right to vote. When the League of Women Voters was established in 1919 in the final days of the fight for women's suffrage, the St. Louis Globe Democrat wrote that war between the sexes had all but been declared (Mueller, 1988:19). Seventy-five years later, the Washington Post echoed the same sentiment in a front page story that claimed: "1996 is shaping up as an unprecedented political war of the sexes in white America" (Edsall, 1995). U.S. News and World Report featured a story titled "What Do Women Want?" with a subtitle that is in danger of becoming a cliché: "The Gender Gap Is Now a Chasm" (Borger, 1995). a front page Wall Street Journal article (Seib, 1996), which similarly said that the gap appears to be widening into a chasm, compared the political distance between men and women to the interpersonal distance described in the popular book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus(Gray, 1992).

The simple, less dramatic truth is that, despite the hype, the gender gap is not a chasm, and there is no war looming between the sexes, at least not in the political arena. Nor is there truth in a lot of other discussion about women and politics that passes as factual. Contrary to popular belief, women candidates don't have a tougher time raising money, nor do they win their races less often than men. Perhaps stemming in part from the current obsession with Mars/ Venus differences between the sexes, a great deal of attention is being paid to the gender gap and women in politics, but the subject is often accompanied by misinformation, misunderstanding, and misleading conclusions. in this book we aim to replace the myths and misinformation with facts and reality.

The focus on women and politics is well deserved -- not because women are at war with men, nor because they are aliens in their voting behavior, but because women are an overwhelmingly powerful . . .

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