Dissertation Project

Developing the Pipeline: How Women’s Candidate Training Organizations Increase Women’s Interest in Running for Office

My work is motivated by the question of why there is still a lack of women’s political representation in government, which cannot be explained by factors that have closed the gender gap in other forms of political participation. My dissertation puts forth a novel theory about the role of women’s organizations in the recruitment and training of women candidates, tying their effects both to individual-level women’s political ambition and ultimately aggregate shifts in political representation at the state level. My project’s core contribution is to show that women’s political ambition is tied to feeling that they will be meaningfully supported when they run, and that these perceptions are conditional on the source and substance of recruitment. Through interviews with 57 organizations currently training candidates (both women’s and all-gender), I show that WCTOs are more likely than all-gender candidate training organizations (ACTOs) to engage in active recruitment/encouragement in their trainings, more likely to substantively discuss gender barriers to running for office (but not barriers faced by racial, ethnic or sexual minorities), and are more likely to connect program attendees with substantive resources that help their campaigns, particularly access to elite networks, individualized mentorship and a supportive alumni community. I pair these interviews with an original survey experiment which shows that the types of mobilization cues used by WCTOs increase women’s political ambition, and that information about programming from a women’s (as opposed to an all-gender) organization increases all women’s interest in participating in politics, while also increasing overall political ambition for women high in gender-consciousness. As I expand this work into a book, I am planning to use a difference-in-differences design to test the aggregate effects of the founding of women’s political organizations at the state level on women’s representation in state legislatures. I am also running an additional survey experiment to test how cues from women’s organizations about their commitments to racial diversity — in who they support and the substance of their trainings, impact feeling institutionally supported across race and ethnicity.

Additional Research Projects


What’s Happened to the Other Gender Gap?: Social Structure, Politics, and Political Participation (with Ashley Jardina, Shauna Shames, Nancy Burns and Kay Schlozman) — Under Contract with Cambridge Elements at Cambridge University Press

Working Papers:

Toeing the Party Line: The Asymmetric Influence of Feminism on Partisans’ Participation (with Marzia Oceno) — Invited to Revise and Resubmit

All in the Family: The Effects of Familial Cues on Attitudes toward Women’s Rights (with Lauren Hahn and Mara Ostfeld) — Under Review

Does the Medium Matter: Cuing Race and Gender in Conjoint and Vignette Experiments (with Angela Ocampo)

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