Women are more likely than men to leave politics after an early loss

Academic Paper / Article

November 8, 2019

Women are more likely than men to leave politics after an early loss


Americans elected more than 100 women to office in the 2018 midterm elections, but women still hold less than a quarter of the seats in Congress.

Why are women so poorly represented? Theories include: women are less politically ambitious; there is a lack of support from political parties and donors; voter prejudice and a dearth of information about female politicians influence votes.

UCLA Anderson’s Melanie Wasserman was interested in a less-understood piece of the puzzle: Do women breaking into politics react differently to an electoral loss than men? If so, does this contribute to the low percentage of women who hold office?

Her analysis of 11,466 candidates in closely won local races in California between 1995 and 2014 (including city, county, and school districts) finds women new to politics were less likely than men to run again within four years of losing a close race. For men, losing an initial election caused a 16-to-19 percentage point decline in the probability of their running in another election within the next four years. Women exhibited an additional 7-to-11-percentage point decrease in the probability of running again, relative to the male candidates.

Click here to read the full article published by UCLA Anderson Review on 1 November 2019.

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Melanie Wasserman
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