Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type



Political Science

First Advisor

Jennifer Wolak


Women compose roughly 50 percent of the population but only 17 percent of the members of Congress. The continual underrepresentation has fascinated researchers for decades. Women have made significant progress in many professional fields previously dominated by men. Why is there not a similar increase in female political participation? In an attempt to answer this question I looked at the Candidate Emergence Study. The study surveys potential candidates in 200 randomly selected districts. The survey asks the potential candidates a wide variety of questions from background information to their perception of politics. With the responses from this study I regressed a series of variables corresponding to recruitment, ambition, and perception. The results demonstrated that recruitment was gender neutral but women were less politically ambition. Furthermore, the female respondents on average have a positive view of themselves as candidates. In contradiction to prior research, I found that children have little to no effect on a candidate’s decision to run for office. The results suggest that gender is no longer a significant factor and issues that traditionally held women back are no longer relevant. Therefore, I predict more women will gradually enter politics.