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Where Do Women Serve? A Comprehensive Analysis of the Gender Gap in U.S. Government

August 2019

Alejandra Aldridge , Nathan Lee


This study collected data on the federal, state, and local level to analyze women’s participation in government. The study found that there is a large gender gap between men and women on all levels (with the disparity being roughly even across levels of government) and that women are the least likely to hold executive positions of any kind. They are most likely to serve as unelected officials, especially as legislative staffers or municipal/county clerks. In fact, gender parity is actual reached for congressional staffers, and reversed for those at the state and local level. Women are mostly likely to serve in lower level, unelected positions

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Policy Implications

This study does not come to any causal conclusions about why women are less likely to serve in government, especially as elected officials. However, the authors do make some suggestions as to how this gender gap may be closed. Many times, organizations that aim to elect more women to office tell potential candidates to start at the local level because they believe they are more likely to be elected this way, but this study disproves that theory. The authors, instead, suggest that these organizations target female staffers and bureaucrats, to convince them that their prior experience makes them fit for office. Additionally, the authors refute the claim that women simply have an aversion towards running for office by pointing out that, if this were the case, women would be the most averse to federal campaigns and those in high populated areas (where campaigns are more discouraging), but there is not a gender difference across level of government, population, or region

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