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1st Student's Major

Government

1st Student's College

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Students' Professional Biography

Danielle M. Thomsen graduates in summer of 2007 from Minnesota State University, Mankato, with a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish. This fall, she plans to work for an interest group in Washington, D.C., to further women rights through political activism. She hopes to be on the campaign trail for the 2008 presidential elections and then pursue graduate or law school.

Mentor's Name

Joseph Kunkel

Mentor's Email Address

joseph.kunkel@mnsu.edu

Mentor's Department

Government

Mentor's College

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

The underrepresented status of women in legislative positions is an entrenched flaw in the American political system. Although past research has investigated the obvious gender gap, the spotlight has recently shifted toward the preliminary factors affecting a candidate's political ambition. It has been noted that women have little aspiration to run for office, and are unlikely to even consider themselves as viable candidates. Encouragement offered by political parties and external supporters such as family, friends, coworkers, and community organizations plays a vital role in creating a female candidate. This paper evaluates the impact of outside forces on the female candidate image and how those factors influence women's final decisions to run for office. I interview female legislators in St. Paul, Minnesota, and uncover the motivations for and obstacles to their candidacies. I analyze the themes that emerge from their narratives and share their collective stories as women legislators. With the 2006 elections, Minnesota now boasts the third highest proportion of female legislators in the nation, comprising 34.8% of the legislature. The personal experiences of these women may serve as a recipe to future gender parity in state legislatures and Congress.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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