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Women & Politics Institute

AU Women & Politics Institute Director's Statement on Women's Equality Day

Director Jennifer L. Lawless: We must do more to recruit women to run for all levels of elective office.

Washington, DC – Today, on the date commemorating American women gaining the right to vote, Women & Politics Institute Director Jennifer L. Lawless stated that our work is still far from finished in terms of bringing women into the political power structure.   
While women account for half of the population in the United States, they remain severely under-represented in elective office,” said Lawless.  More specifically, Lawless explains: “The numbers may surprise you.  Eighty-three percent of the members of the U.S. Congress are men.  Eighty-eight percent of state governors are men.  Men occupy more than three quarters of all seats in state legislatures across the country.  And they run City Hall in 90 of the 100 largest cities.  We must do more to recruit women at every level to run for office.”
Lawless’s research reveals that women are significantly less likely than men to be recruited to run for office.  When women receive support and encouragement for their candidacies, though, women are just as likely as men to run and just as likely as men to win.  “The training and recruitment that are so essential for increasing women’s representation is the mission of the Women & Politics Institute.  We explore why there is a gender gap in political ambition, assess how to counter that trend, and then engage in the nuts and bolts work to change the status quo.  Increased leadership in this country by women helps all of society: families, neighborhoods, cities, towns, states, and the global community.”
Former New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug led the charge that, in 1971, culminated in the establishment by Congress of Women’s Equality Day.  By a Joint Resolution of Congress, August 26 commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which guaranteed women the right to vote.   
The Women & Politics Institute at American University’s School of Public Affairs is a non-partisan, non-profit institute dedicated to academic excellence and leading scholarship in the field of women and politics.  Director Jennifer L. Lawless is the co-author, with Richard Fox, of It Takes A Candidate: Why Women Don't Run for Office (Cambridge University Press, 2005).

American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.

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Contact: Ava Lubell