You've marched. Now it's time to run.

For nearly 20 years, the Barbara Lee Family Foundation has studied every woman’s campaign for governor on both sides of the aisle, including real-time polling on voters’ views and post-election interviews with candidates and campaign staff. From the personal traits, to actions that convey qualification and likeability, to bouncing back from mistakes, this nonpartisan research is a concise look at what it takes for a woman to run and succeed.

About Us

The Barbara Lee Family Foundation advances women’s equality and representation in American politics and in the field of contemporary art. Our work in both our program areas is guided by our core belief that women’s voices strengthen our democracy and enrich our culture.


The Foundation produces unique and original research highlighting the obstacles and opportunities women candidates encounter when running for leadership positions, particularly executive office.

The Politics of Gender: Men, Women, and the 2016 Election

This campaign season, highly public debates about the intersection of feminism, misogyny and sexism have exposed a dark side of American politics and society. As these debates continue, we partnered with the Atlantic to explore the changing landscape of American demographics, the politics of gender perceptions and the role women play in leadership.

Featured Research

Politics is Personal: Keys to Likeability and Electability for Women (2016)

Like it or not, likeability is a non-negotiable quality voters seek in women officeholders and candidates. At the same time, it’s an intangible quality. Voters have difficulty clearly defining what it means to come across as likeable. When it comes to articulating what attracts them to a candidate or officeholder, voters have an “I know it when I see it” mindset.

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The Foundation partners with other nonpartisan organizations dedicated to helping women succeed in American politics. The goal: to change the dialogue about what a leader looks like.

Featured Partner

The Higher Heights Leadership Fund

Higher Heights Leadership Fund is building a national civic engagement infrastructure and network to strengthen Black women’s leadership capacity. Higher Heights Leadership Fund is investing in a long-term strategy to expand and support Black women’s leadership pipeline at all levels and strengthen their civic participation beyond just Election Day.

Featured Program

Presidential Gender Watch 2016

Presidential Gender Watch 2016 is a nonpartisan project of the Center for American Women and Politics and the Barbara Lee Family Foundation to track, analyze, and illuminate gender dynamics in the 2016 presidential election. Presidential Gender Watch 2016 draws upon the research and expertise of both partner organizations, as well as other experts, to further public understanding of how gender the race for the nation’s highest executive office.


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Presidential Gender Watch

The Gender Conversation Continues

In April 2015, we launched Presidential Gender Watch 2016 with the mission to track, analyze, and illuminate gender dynamics in the presidential election. For nineteen months, we did that work with help from expert scholars and practitioners. We raised questions, provided answers, and sought to complicate any simplifications in popular discussions about gender’s role in the presidential race. We were not alone.