The United States has flatlined when it comes to electing women: At the local, state and federal level, women hold fewer than 1 in every 4 elected offices, and the ratio hasn’t budged much lately. The U.S. ranks 101st, below China, Iraq and Afghanistan, when it comes to gender equity in our national legislature—down from 52nd two decades ago.
Studies show that women tend to win elections at the same rate as men—but they are far less likely to run at all. A POLITICO investigation into the causes of gender inequality in electoral politics found that the traditional explanations—fundraising imbalances, sexism in the media and the voting booth, unyielding party bureaucracies and more—have faded in importance. Today, the greatest obstacle may be less conspicuous: America has a shortage of female politicians because, to put it simply, women don’t want the job.
But since the presidential election, American women have been behaving unusually. First, in January, approximately 4.2 million people attended more than 600 women’s marches nationwide—making it the largest single-day demonstration in U.S. history, according to estimates collected by Erica Chenoweth at the University of Denver and Jeremy Pressman at the University of Connecticut. In the months afterward, the number of women who filed to run for the Virginia Legislature went up 75 percent over the last comparable cycle in 2013, according to an analysis by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. In New Jersey, the only other state with legislative elections this year, the number of female candidates is up 25 percent....