Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Andrew Busch

Rights Information

© 2014 Elizabeth Eggert


This thesis seeks to explore why so fewer women seek political candidacy in the United States. I begin by seeing if the political arena has progressed, if at all, within the last thirty years. A comparison between the number of female legislators in the United States versus other western industrialized nations is used to see if there are cultural or institutional causes of gender disparity in governments throughout the world. I then examine existing factors that both encourage and discourage women from running for political office. External factors include the type of electoral process the United States uses, Political Action Committees (PACs) marketed to support female candidates, media coverage, and incumbency blockades. A discussion on internally existing factors analyzes ever existing stereotypes of men, women and leaders that result both from socialization of gender roles and inherent anatomical discrepancies between males and females.

After analyzing the various factors I conclude that immutable biological differences between men and women affect political ambition and will consequently affect how many women seek political candidacy. This finding may not sit well with activists striving for political parity, but it is a reality society needs to accept. We cannot use anatomical gender differences as justification to prevent women from seeking office. But understanding the inherent causes will stop the criticism and essentially the undermining of women in American politics.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.