Turning Point: The Changing Landscape for Women Candidates

“Men are judged on their potential; women are judged on their performance.” ~Candidate

“I didn’t start out thinking I wanted to be in politics — rather, I knew I wanted to make my community better, and that drive to help and to serve led me into public office. When I first ran, the glass ceiling was strong and barely cracked. The old boys’ club was alive and well. Obstacles stood in my way. So I did what women across the country do so well — I jumped in and fought like the dickens. We are all still fighting today, but the journey is easier with friends like the Barbara Lee Foundation.”
North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue

“Every woman who runs for Governor knows there are strategic potholes on the campaign trail. Those who run with the Barbara Lee Family Foundation’s research in hand have the benefit of knowing what they are, where they show up and how to navigate around them.”
Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm

2010 was a turning point for women running for Governor — and a turning point in our 12 years of researching their campaigns. In the midst of the most partisan political landscape in recent history, gender disadvantages faded and women candidates showed distinct advantages over their male competitors. More than ever, gender has the potential to become a strategic asset for women running for executive office.

But advantages for women came with drawbacks. As we have seen in the past and as one woman running in 2010 observed, “Men are judged on their potential; women are judged on their performance.” Voters continue to set a higher bar for women candidates than for their male counterparts. Though some women cleared that bar in 2010, those who didn’t had farther to fall.

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.

This guide is also an invitation. If you are running for office or planning to run, I invite you to use it to its fullest to help inform your campaign. If you have not yet decided to run, consider our research an invitation to become a candidate yourself. And since we know that women need to be recruited to run, I urge you to pass this invitation along to the smart, strong, inspiring women who you know and want to see become our country’s future leaders.

Barbara Lee Founder and President Barbara Lee Family Foundation Cambridge, Massachusetts June, 2011

6 Trackbacks

  1. [...] the not just the sex scandals but also the financial meltdown and goodness knows what else. You can download it here –please tell us whether you [...]

  2. [...] my foundation’s latest research on women’s campaigns for executive office shows that Warren may have a real chance to bridge [...]

  3. By Why Women Still Won’t Run for Office on January 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    [...] For access to the Barbara Lee Family Foundation report, Turning Point, click the link: http://www.barbaraleefoundation.org/our-research/topics/turning-point-2010 [...]

  4. [...] their male competitors by presenting themselves as “360-degree candidates.” Indeed, Barbara Lee Family Foundation research shows that by using all of their experiences and expertise, women candidates have a broader range [...]

  5. [...] their male competitors by presenting themselves as “360-degree candidates.” Indeed, Barbara Lee Family Foundation research shows that by using all of their experiences and expertise, women candidates have a broader range [...]

  6. [...] because, as the Barbara Lee Family Foundation’s research from the 2010 gubernatorial races found, “More than ever, gender has the potential to become a strategic asset for women running for execut… Maybe it’s because women in traditionally male dominated arenas like politics and sports are [...]