The findings laid out here show that women candidates still face challenges. Those challenges, however, are surmountable— and they are often countered by strategic advantages.
We know that women must:
- Be prepared to hit the ground running
- Use the “qualified” label
- Lead with experience and expertise before sharing personal background
- Utilize the full life experience that comes with being a woman—work experience, family life, balancing the personal and professional—to connect with voters
- Know how to go negative without losing the ethical advantage
- Unravel the double bind to demonstrate qualification and likeability
- Rebound quickly from mistakes
How women reach political equality is important—but so is the why. With more women’s voices at the center of the conversation, we have more robust, inclusive dialogue about issues that matter not only to women but to families and all Americans. With more women in office, issues like economic opportunity, access to healthcare, quality education, reproductive health, and sexual assault get the attention they deserve. To voters, women are the ones likely to bring people together to get results and make government work.
Women in politics are no longer an anomaly. Voters no longer see qualified women as the exception instead of the rule. Since the inception of this research in 1998, the number of women governors in our nation’s history has more than doubled, and the number of women in the U.S. Senate hit a record high.
Progress toward equality in elected representation is slow and incremental. But it is persistent—and persistence is key