In recent years, several measures have been taken to advance gender equality in today’s workforce and political environment. For Connecticut, the 2013 election became a historical turning point for women as many prevailed in highly contested political races within the state. While this defining moment promises future success for female leaders, women still remain widely underrepresented in leadership roles. Presently, women constitute only 14 percent of the state’s Congressional Delegation, 29 percent of the Connecticut General Assembly, and 25 percent of municipal governing bodies. What’s striking about these statistics is that studies show that women tend to fare well against men in political campaigns. The existing disparity among female representation in politics can be attributed to a variety of societal factors that impact a woman’s decision to pursue a political seat. Nonetheless, women are vital to the political arena as they provide a perspective unique to their male counterparts.
Women face a range of barriers regarding their political involvement. The most prevalent is the gender bias within American society, which urges women to take on more of a domestic identity than professional or community leader. This implicit bias often shapes a woman’s political and occupational experience and work availability which ultimately impacts their success within the political arena. These factors contribute to the common lack of political ambition among women and girls.
Furthermore, while women fare well against men in political campaigns, women are often presented with obstacles during the campaign process. These include bias within political party recruitment, securing fundraising sources, and fewer network connections within the “political pipeline.” Studies show women are less likely to be considered during political party recruitment and endorsement. Without party endorsement, candidates are frequently put at a disadvantage. In addition, men and women candidates usually raise comparable campaign funds; however, women are more likely to have difficulty attracting funders from traditional sources. These factors derive from the limited access women have to political networking. With fewer women in politics than men, female candidates lack networking and mentoring opportunities. This again disempowers women from seeking and obtaining political leadership positions.
Having more female leaders within Connecticut would not only encourage young women and girls to pursue non-traditional professions, it would also benefit the productivity and functionality of our governing bodies. In fact, female political leaders are more likely to advocate for women’s rights and social justice issues and offer a different perspective in addressing public policy. To learn more about how CWEALF works to promote women in policy and leadership, read our recap on the 3rd Annual Women’s Policy Day.