Poster Title

Gender and Representation: Economic Performance and the Emergence of Women in State Politics

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Junior

Major

Political Science and Sociology

Institution

Murray State University

KY House District #

5

KY Senate District #

1

Department

Political Science and Sociology

Abstract

A plethora of literature in gender and representation has been devoted to understanding disparities that occur during campaigns. More recently, the shift has been toward candidate emergence and the decision of individual women to run in the United States. In this vein, we are curious whether women are likely to run for office following times of economic prosperity or disparity, respectively. We hypothesize that when the state of the economy is generally decreasing in terms of declining GDP per capita and growing unemployment rates, fewer women will emerge to run for office. In times of worse economic performance, we argued that voters will show less interest in a broader range of topics besides those that will directly affect their personal economic well-being. This will happen because they feel less safe in their economic position. We suggest that this will lead to fewer women feeling encouraged to run for office because they anticipate a lower probability of winning. This may be attributable to asymmetrical partisan gender gaps and decreased confidence to run on platforms typically supported by female politicians like issues affecting women, children, and families, and the promotion of the arts, rather than an economic focus typical to male campaigns. We analyzed state level data from 2009 to 2018 looking at state GDP per capita, unemployment rate by state, incumbency, and the number of women running for state executive in each state. We find initial support for part of the hypothesis. Unemployment rates seem to have a statistically significant and negative affect on female candidate emergence. GDP per capita was a statistically significant measure, however this measure did not directly play a role in the relationship between candidate emergence. The results of this study offer insight and speculation into female candidate emergence and more generally for understanding gender and representation.

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Gender and Representation: Economic Performance and the Emergence of Women in State Politics

A plethora of literature in gender and representation has been devoted to understanding disparities that occur during campaigns. More recently, the shift has been toward candidate emergence and the decision of individual women to run in the United States. In this vein, we are curious whether women are likely to run for office following times of economic prosperity or disparity, respectively. We hypothesize that when the state of the economy is generally decreasing in terms of declining GDP per capita and growing unemployment rates, fewer women will emerge to run for office. In times of worse economic performance, we argued that voters will show less interest in a broader range of topics besides those that will directly affect their personal economic well-being. This will happen because they feel less safe in their economic position. We suggest that this will lead to fewer women feeling encouraged to run for office because they anticipate a lower probability of winning. This may be attributable to asymmetrical partisan gender gaps and decreased confidence to run on platforms typically supported by female politicians like issues affecting women, children, and families, and the promotion of the arts, rather than an economic focus typical to male campaigns. We analyzed state level data from 2009 to 2018 looking at state GDP per capita, unemployment rate by state, incumbency, and the number of women running for state executive in each state. We find initial support for part of the hypothesis. Unemployment rates seem to have a statistically significant and negative affect on female candidate emergence. GDP per capita was a statistically significant measure, however this measure did not directly play a role in the relationship between candidate emergence. The results of this study offer insight and speculation into female candidate emergence and more generally for understanding gender and representation.