Will Women Still Want to Run?

After the ugliest campaign in recent memory, would any woman in her right mind want to run for president again?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Some will be discouraged. Those who run will do so with the full knowledge that we do not live in a post-gender world, any more than we do in a post-racial one.

People will long debate how much being a woman factored into Hillary Clinton’s narrow loss. But to those who study gender and politics, certain issues were clear, and they will frame the campaigns of women who may run in the future.

It has been a political science truism that female candidates cannot win unless voters see them as qualified for office; men have more leeway.

“Donald Trump never held elective office,” said Debbie Walsh, the director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “I don’t think there’s a woman who could get away with that.”

Political scientists saw a double bind: political experience, branded in this election as being part of a clueless or corrupt elite, worked against the woman running for office, while political inexperience helped the man. (Exit polls showed that 18 percent of those who voted for Mr. Trump did not think he was qualified to be president).

As a female candidate, “you have to prove your qualifications beyond the shadow of a doubt,” said Adrienne Kimmell, executive director of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, which has been studying women’s political races for 20 years. “How are you supposed to prove your qualifications while still being an outsider? I don’t know what the answer is to that question.”

Scholars also noticed that while past polls suggested that voters had dropped their resistance to seeing a woman as commander in chief, exit polls suggested a more nuanced reality.

Read more at The New York Times

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