Why Women Don't Run: The Critical Contextual Factors in Women's Legislative Recruitment

DOI10.1177/106591298103400106
Published date01 March 1981
Date01 March 1981
Subject MatterArticles
WHY
WOMEN
DON’T
RUN:
THE
CRITICAL
CONTEXTUAL FACTORS
IN
WOMEN’S
LEGISLATIVE
RECRUITMENT
WILMA
RULE
DeKalb,
Illinois
Motivation
toward
particular
ends
impels
a
person
to
seek
office.
But
the
struc-
ture,
risk,
and
opportunity
of
various
offices -
the
political
context -
shape
the
outcome
of
this
motivation.
They
have
a
dynamic
of
their
own.
The
structure
and
the
dynamic
vary
from
polity
to
polity ....
James
MacGregor
Burns,
Leadership
EDITORIAL
NOTE:
This
article
received
the
1980
Women
in
Politics
prize,
WPSA.
NOTE:
The
author wished
to
thank
Ellen
Boneparth,
Ruth
S.
Cavan,
Moshe
M.
Czudnowski,
Kathernine
Knight,
Irving
Krauss,
Joyce
Mitchell,
Samuel
Patterson
and
the
three
anon-
ymous
reviewers
for
helpful
comments
on
an
earlier
draft
of
this
article.
Also,
Steve
Baker,
doctoral
candidate
at
Northern
Illinois
University,
deserves
thanks
for
assistance
in
data
,
collection
and
in
computer
runs.
An
earlier
version
of
this
paper
was
presented
at
the
197’8
American
Political
Science
Association
meeting
in
New
York
City.
11...
-
...
&dquo;,.., 11 11.......
....
11 _11 ...,
-,. -
r,....,.
&dquo;_11’
OMEN’S
political
recruitment,
like
men’s,
is
largely
dependent
on
a
V
number
of
critical
contextual
factors.
Each
of
the
three
phases
of
v v
the
recruitment
process
-
eligibility,
selection,
and
election
-
is
affected.
A
potential
candidate’s
decision
to
seek
office
depends
upon
the
political
culture
which
limits
or
offers
opportunity
for
persons
with
the
ap-
propriate
eligibility
attributes.
A
potential
candidate
must
calculate
whether
or
not
to
risk
nomination
by
taking
into
account
the closed
or
open
nature
of
the
particular
political
structure.
In
turn,
election
or
defeat
at
the
polls
is
related
to
voters’
expectation
of
candidates’
stands
on
issues,
which
as
Key2
noted,
must
not
deviate
markedly
from
a
prevailing
modal
consensus.
The
purpose
of
this
article
is
to
determine
the
critical
sociopolitical
contextual
factors
associated
with
limited
or
expanded
opportunities
for
women’s
recruitment
to
legislative
office.
This
article
seeks
to
explain
the
effect
of
aggregate
contextual
patterns
and
processes
on
female
recruit-
ment.3
Therefore
biographical
data
on
women
legislators
(collected
by
the
author4)
are
not
included,
since
they
are
not
theoretically
pertinent
to
this
contextual
analysis.5
Our
objective
is
to
ascertain
the
environmental
elements
associated
with
the
varying
proportions
of
women
recruited
to
political
office.
Thus,
for
example,
women’s
recruitment
to
U.S.
state
legislatures
varied
from
1
per-
cent
in
Georgia
to
22
percent
in
New
Hampshire,
with
an
average
rep-
resentation
of
6
percent
in
1974.
Women’s
recruitment
to
the
U.S.
Congress,
’Lester
G.
Seligman,
Michael
R.
King
and
Chong
Lim
Kim,
Patterns
of
Recruitment
(Chicago:
Rand
McNally,
1974),
p.
160;
James
MacGregor
Burns,
Leadership
(New
York:
Harper
Colophon,
1979),
pp.
119-29;
Moshe
M.
Czudnowski,
"Political
Recruitment,"
in
Fred
I.
Greenstein
and
Nelson
W.
Polsby,
eds.,
Handbook
of
Political
Science
(Reading,
Mass.:
Addison-Wesley,
1975),
2:
155-242.
2
V.
O.
Key,
Southern
Politics
in
State
and
Nation
(New
York:
Knopf,
1949),
p.
413.
3 Cf.
Douglas
W.
Rae,
The
Political
Consequences
of
Electoral
Laws
(New
Haven:
Yale
University,
1971),
p.
8.
4
Wilma
Rule
Krauss,
"Women
in
Parliament
and
Local
Politics."
Paper
delivered
at
the
1974
annual
meeting
of
the
Midwest
Political
Science
Association,
Chicago,
April
25-27,
1974.
5 From
a
theoretical
standpoint,
political
recruitment
research,
unlike
elite
studies,
focuses
upon
the
processes
of
induction
of
persons
into
political
office,
rather
than
on
the
background
of
political
incumbents.
See
Czudnowski,
"Political
Recruitment,"
pp.
155-56.
Moreover,
an
orthogonal
factor
analysis
of
data
on
women
legislators’
backgrounds
and
contextual
data
showed
that
these
two
aspects
are
separate
dimensions.
61
where
women
comprise
3
percent
of
the
House
and
Senate,
also
shows
variation
by
states.
In
1974,
female
representation
in
the
50
states’
congres-
sional
delegations
ranged
from
0
to
25
percent.
Cross-nationally,
the
pro-
portion
of
women
parliament
members
varies
from
1
percent
in
Brazil
to
22
percent
in
Finland.
These
differences
in
proportions
reflect
sociopolitical
contexts
which
offer
more
or
less
opportunity
for
women’s
access
to
legisla-
tive
office.
There
are
five
sections
in
this
article.
The
first
discusses
previous
re-
search
and
sketches the
theoretical
connections
between
the
aggregate
con-
textual
factors
and
the
processes
of
women’s
recruitment
to
legislative
office.
The
methodology
used
in
this
study
is
also
included.
In
section
II
contextual
factors
related
to
female
recruitment
to
the
50
U.S.
state
legislatures
are
analyzed
and
discussed.
Section
III
investigates
the
contextual
factors
related
to
women’s
recruitment
to
Congress.
It
includes
the
discovery
that
environmental
conditions
favorable
to
women’s
recruit-
ment
to
U.S.
legislatures
are
generally
unfavorable
for
their
recruitment
to
Congress.
An
analysis
of
the
deviant
case,
that
is
those
factors
favoring
female
recruitment
to
both
state
legislatives
and
Congress,
is
then
presented.
Section
IV
explores
the
macro-level
correlates
of
women’s
recruitment
to
parliament,
and
the
last
section
summarizes
and
concludes
the
paper.
This
cross-level
comparative
research
should
be of
greater
value
to
under-
standing
and
explaining
women’s
recruitment
than
would
be
a
single-level
sample.~
6
I.
PREVIOUS
RESEARCH
AND
THEORETICAL
RELATIONSHIPS
There
are
few
studies
of
women’s
political
recruitment.
While
research
is
fragmentary
and
incomplete,
it
does
provide
some
clues
for
explaining
differences
in
women’s
proportions
in
legislative
office.
First,
current
work
throws
light
on
whether
women
are
disadvantaged
in
the
eligibility
and
selection
phases
of
recruitment
or
at
the
election
stage.
Secondly, previous
research
provides
some
answers
to
which
contextual
factors
positively
or
negatively
affect
women’s
legislative
recruitment.
The
probability
of
women
being
formally
nominated
and
elected
to
legislative
office
is
equally
as
good
as
men’s,
according
to
several
recent
studies.
Kirkpatrick’
found
that
once
women
had
decided
to
seek
nomina-
tion
for
and
election
to
state
legislatures,
they
were
not
disadvantaged
rela-
tive
to
male
candidates.8
Darcy
and
Schramm9
discovered
that
women’s
chances
for
election
to
Congress-
in
the
8
percent
of
congressional
districts
in
which
they
ran-were
the
same
as
men’s.
Studies
of
women’s
election
to
other
offices10
in
the
U.S.
and
in
Great
Britainll
showed
similar
results.
If
6
Heinz
Eulau,
ed.,
Micro-Macro
Political
Analysis
(Chicago:
Aldine,
1969),
pp.
12-19.
7
Jeane
Kirkpatrick,
Political
Women
(New
York:
Basic
Books,
1974).
8
See
also
Irene
Diamond,
Sex
Roles
in the
Statehouse
(New
Haven:
Yale
University
Press,
1977),
p.
85
9
R.
Darcy
and
Sarah
Slavin
Schramm,
"When
Women
Run
Against
Men:
The
Electorate’s
Response
to
Congressional
Contests,"
Public
Opinion
Quarterly
41
(Spring
1977):
1-12.
10
A.
Karnig
and
O.
Walter,
"Elections
of
Women
to
City
Councils,"
Social
Science
Quarterly
56
(March
1976):
605-13;
Ronald
D.
Hedlund,
Patricia
K.
Freeman,
Keith
E.
Hamm
and
Robert
M.
Stein,
"The
Electability
of
Women
Candidates:
The
Effects
of
Sex
Role
Stereotypes,"
paper
presented
at
the
1978
meeting
of
the
Midwest
Political
Science
Associ-
ation,
Chicago,
April
20-22,
1978.
11
Jill
Hills,
"Women
Within
the
Labour
Party
in
Great
Britain:
A
Preliminary
Look,"
paper
presented
at
the
workshop
on
women
and
politics,
European
Consortium
for
Political
Research,
Berlin,
West
Germany,
March
27-April
2,
1977.
See
also
Melville
E.
Currell,
Political
Woman
(London;
Crom
Helm,
1974).

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