An in-depth study of women congressional candidates over the past two decades
Barbara Burrell presents a comprehensive comparative examination of men's and women’s candidacies for the U.S. House of Representatives in elections from 1994 through 2012. Analyzing extensive data sets on all major party candidates for 10 elections—covering candidate status, party affiliation, fund-raising, candidate background variables, votes obtained, and success rates for both primary and general elections—Burrell finds little evidence of categorical discrimination against women candidates. Women compete equally with men and often outpace them in raising money, gaining interest group and political party support, and winning elections.
Yet the number of women elected to the U.S. House has expanded only incrementally. The electoral structure limits opportunities for newcomers to win congressional seats and there remains a lower presence of women in winnable contests despite growing recruitment efforts. Burrell suggests that congressional dysfunction discourages potential candidates from pursuing legislative careers and that ambitious women are finding alternative paths to influence and affect public policy.
Barbara Burrell is a professor emeritus at Northern Illinois University, where she was a member of the Political Science faculty and a faculty associate in the Women’s Studies Program. She is the author of A Woman’s Place Is in the House: Campaigning for Congress in the Feminist Era (University of Michigan Press, 1994), a landmark study of women candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives from 1968 through 1992.
Read: Barbara Burrell cited in FiveThirtyEight Link | 7/26/2016