Voting for Women

How the Public Evaluates Women Candidates


Kathy Dolan

First Edition • August 1, 2003 • 208 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813398419 • $40.00 USD$98.99 CAN

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Women comprise an ever-increasing percentage of the candidate pool for elective office in the United States. Public opinion surveys profess strong support for female candidates, yet many of these same candidates still encounter skepticism (at best) or hostility (at worst) from the public. The role of candidate gender in elections is a complex one. Yet, our understanding of how voters react to these women is often based on election-specific, anecdotal, or hypothetical evidence. Voting for Women is one of the first book-length treatments of both how the public evaluates female candidates and whether and when people will support them at the polls. It also provides a history of women and elections in the U.S. and analysis of contemporary data on how voting environments can influence women’s success.

Kathleen Dolan received a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Maryland in 1991. She is associate professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Her primary research and teaching interests are in the areas of elections, public opinion, and gender politics.

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“Women running for public office is no longer and oddity in American political life and Kathleen Dolan in Voting for Women provides the most extensive analysis to date in support of the coming of political age of women candidates in the minds of voters. Her comprehensive analysis of individual level data from survey research on elections to the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate from 1990 through 2000 in which women were candidates shows that their sex is not the primary factor voters relate to in making their voting decisions. The context of particular elections influences the extent to which gender is a factor. The findings of her research will be central to any future work on women as candidates for public office and as political leaders.”
— Barbara Burrell, Associate Director, Public Opinion Laboratory and Associate Professor of Political Science, Northern Illinois University

“Finally a book that rigorously examines the dynamics of electoral support for women in a readable way.”
— Virginia Sapiro, University of Wisconsin, Madison

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