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The Barbara Lee Family Foundation is the only organization dedicated to specifically studying women running for executive office on both sides of the aisle. For nearly two decades, elected officials, candidates, practitioners, and press have used Barbara Lee Family Foundation research to better understand the obstacles and opportunities that women in politics encounter.

Research Archive

Finding Gender in Election 2016 (2017)

How did gender influence the 2016 presidential election? For Presidential Gender Watch 2016, the question extended well beyond the fact that for the first time, a major party nominated a woman as its presidential candidate. It even went beyond the majority-female electorate that chose the new commander-in-chief. Presidential Gender Watch’s new report highlights the answers to those questions.

Modern Family: How Women Candidates Can Talk About Politics, Parenting, and Their Personal Lives (2017)

As more women run for office and are elected, voters question how women can serve constituents and take care of family responsibilities at the same time. Women candidates wonder whether they should talk about their family and personal life and how to do so without alienating voters.

Keys to Elected Office: The Essential Guide for Women (2017)

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. Keys to Elected Office: The Essential Guide for Women offers the most direct, must-know advice we’ve gleaned for women elected officials and candidates running for office. From the personal traits, to actions that convey qualification and likeability, to bouncing back from mistakes, this nonpartisan guide is a concise look at what it takes for a woman to run and succeed.

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.

Unlocking the Door to Executive Office: Essential Tips for Women Candidates (2015)

The Barbara Lee Family Foundation (BLFF) has tracked every woman’s general election race for governor since 1998, and 2014 was no exception. With a goal to continually illuminate opportunities and obstacles for women running for executive office, BLFF worked with Dr. Kelly Dittmar and the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University to produce qualitative research on the 2014 gubernatorial elections with women candidates.

Change the Channel: Ads that Work for Women Candidates (2013)

Our past research has consistently shown that women candidates pay a higher price for going negative, even though all candidates must show how they differ from their opponents – it is a necessary part of campaigning. This qualitative research from the Barbara Lee Family Foundation offers evidence-based guidance on how women can successfully contrast with […]

Pitch Perfect: Winning Strategies for Women Candidates (2012)

We’ve all heard it: this perception that “I would vote for a ‘qualified’ woman,” especially when a woman runs for major statewide office. The Barbara Lee Family Foundation’s latest research helps to decode the idea of a qualified woman candidate. It reveals what makes a woman “qualified” in voters’ minds, and how one establishes qualifications […]

Breakthrough Messages for Women Voters (2012)

Executive Summary The statistics are widely reported: Women make up only 17 percent of Congress but are over 50 percent of the U.S. population. Even President Barack Obama believes Congress would get more done if there were more women in Congress, saying, “I think it’s fair to say: That is almost guaranteed.” On behalf of […]

Turning Point: The Changing Landscape for Women Candidates (2010)

This report is designed to help women candidates navigate the changes that the 2010 elections represent. In many ways a departure from our earlier research, Turning Point: The Changing Landscape for Women Candidates helps women candidates for executive office identify and deploy all of their assets without succumbing to the pitfalls that gender bias can still present.

Leading with Authority (2008)

“Men are used to being in charge. Running for office is something they take as an entitlement. Women need to show ‘I have the right.'” – FEMALE STATE PARTY OFFICIAL Four women ran for Governor in 2008: Governor Chris Gregoire (WA), then-Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue (NC), Speaker Gaye Symington (VT) and former Congresswoman Jill Long […]

Cracking the Code (2002)

“In planning and launching a gubernatorial race, it’s an incredible advantage to know the unique challenges that women have faced in past elections. Cracking the Code will help women candidates in the current cycle know where they’ll be challenged and how to win.” – Governor Jennifer Granholm “Campaigns are full of uncertainties, and the key […]

Speaking with Authority (2001)

On September 11, everything changed. Plans. Habits. Priorities. Lifelong assumptions were opened to re-evaluation. Only today are we fully realizing the impact the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC, have had on our thinking. What, then, is the effect of 9/11 on women’s candidacies for public office, we wondered? How will women fare […]

Keys to the Governor’s Office (1998)

Only 18. In the 225-year history of the United States only 18 women have served as governor. In 2001, only four women occupy the top job – in New Hampshire, Montana, Delaware and Arizona. While the numbers of women in state legislatures continued to grow in the 1990s and the numbers of women serving in the […]

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