Extant research on gender, context, and representation in the United States reveals women remain underrepresented as candidates, winners, and throughout political institutions. To better understand the sources of these gender gaps, greater consideration must be given to strategic entry decisions in primary elections. We study this question using aggregate data from state legislative primaries from 2001–2015. We find compelling evidence that women’s probability of entry and victory in primary contests is affected by district political context–especially women-friendliness and religiosity. These results support the strategic entry hypothesis and provide further evidence that the most significant barriers to the representation of women in American political institutions precede electoral politics.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Gender Studies
- Sociology and Political Science