What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being Dudes?

Last month, my ward in Philadelphia hosted a candidate's forum for the city council at large seats in Philadelphia. Democrats are capped at a maximum of five at large seats in the city council, and this year there is an exceptionally large number of challengers running to unseat the incumbents. At our forum, a total of fourteen candidates showed up, including twelve challengers. One thing a number of us noticed during the forum was how all of the candidates were men. Towards the very end, one woman did show up, but for most of the night is was just a lot of dudes sitting in a row. And it isn't just the at-large races where male candidates proliferate in Philadelphia. Much of the same can be found in the local district races, where all but one of the strong challengers, Maria Quinones Sanchez, to sitting incumbents on city council are men.

I am not really sure what to make of this, but it certainly does seem odd to me that most of the Democratic, "progressive movement" candidates in both local areas like Philadelphia, and national areas like prominent, Act Blue fundraising pages for high trafficked blogs are male. And by "most," I mean more than a supermajority. Looking back at the 2006 electoral cycle, off-hand I can only think of nine women candidates for federal office who made positive waves throughout a wide swath of the progressive netroots: Christine Cegalis in IL-06, Victoria Wulsin in OH-02, Darcy Burner in WA-08, Linda Stender in NJ-07, Francine Busby in CA-50, Donna Edwards in MD-04, Angie Paccione in CO-04, Lois Murphy in PA-06; and Kirsten Gillibrand in NY-20. By contrast, there were around three or four-dozen male candidates who drew regular, prominent, positive attention from the progressive netroots. I'm not going to list them all here, because I don't want the length of the list, or quibbles over who belongs on the list, to dominate discussion. But I do think it is fair to say that there is about a 3-1 or 4-1 male-female ratio among "progressive movement candidates," no matter how that term is defined.

Now, the percentage of women among "progressive movement candidates," is pretty similar to the overall percentage of Democratic candidates for, and elected officials in, federal office. Right now, that percentage is about 22% (click here for a complete list). Thus, the situation online may simply be the result of problems already present within the overall progressive ecosystem, rather than new causes specific to the progressive netroots and progressive movement. However, while one would think that much of the imbalance is slowly being corrected over time, that no longer seems to be the case. Even after a wave election such as 2006, with only nine of forty-one freshman House Democrats being female, and only two of nine freshman Senate Democrats being female, women actually make up virtually the same percentage of Democrats in Congress that they made up before the election. That points to stagnation and a potential plateau, not continued progress. Considering the male-female ratio of the candidates we end up strongly supporting, the progressive netroots and progressive movement might actually be contributing to this stagnation and plateau, rather than combating it.

I want to make it clear that this post is mainly trying to ask a question, rather than arguing that there is an inherent problem in our movement that we must correct. Why is it that we in the progressive netroots seem to end up throwing our activist and media weight behind male candidates far more often than we do so for female candidates? Or, to put it another way: what's up with all the dude movement candidates? I think it is useful to ask the question in that phrasing, because in many instances movement candidates quite literally are "dudes," and not just more generally male. Are we simply a reflection of problems that arise elsewhere? Is it an indication that the personal and cultural characteristics the progressive netroots both displays and tends to look for in candidates--fighting Dems, bar fight primaries, straight-talking combativeness--skew masculine? Is it a simple statistical fluke? Is it somehow a combination of these factors, in that the personal characteristics we look for in candidates are not viewed as positive attributes by the electorate when those same attributes are displayed by women candidates? Is it something else entirely?

I honestly don't know. I also know that a candidate's gender is not a factor I at least directly take into account when evaluating candidates to support, and I can't imagine that changing. My suspicion is that the problem lies in indirect, cultural aspects of both the progressive netroots and the American political scene in general. However, that is just a vague guess. I would like to hear your thoughts on the matter. Why are so many "progressive movement candidates" male? It is a reasonable question, and it deserves to be discussed. To simply bristle at the notion that this issue doesn't need discussion would be a very, very bad sign.

Tags: Democrats, gender, progressive movement, Women Candidates - Shortage (all tags)



Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

I think EMILY's list demanding a T-Mac fundraising approach instead of movement campaigns has played a big role. Women can get money from EMILY's list and do so by aggressively reaching out to people who have been inspired by others' campaigns instead of using the opposite model of inspiring new people.

There is a huge opening for female candidates to begin running movement campaigns instead of the old model. As both Obama and Edwards will probably outraise Clinton this quarter, it will begin to make more and more sense.

by Bob Brigham 2007-04-14 01:55PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

You list Vic Wulsin prominently, and it's true that we got good attention and financial support from the netroots in October (due in part to a hard-hitting ad the highlighted the Schmidt-Murtha incident). But it's also true that as a campaign, we struggled mightily for 5 months to enlist netroots support before that, with little success (I was the campaign's communications director). We never succeeded, for example, in getting on the Netroots Endorsed list.

Why did we have such a hard time attracting attention from the netroots? Partly, of course, for the same reason we didn't get attention from the Democratic Party -- OH-02 is a very conservative district and Vic was a new candidate.

But it's also true that leaders in the netroots -- leaders like Markos and Duncan Black and you -- were looking for fighting Dems. Dems who would hit hard and often. Now, I think that's a good trait to seek out, and I think Dems need to go on the offensive. But I think that desire it also created a bias towards candidates with military backgrounds (like Patrick Murphy and Sestak and Webb) and candidates that just come across as tough.

Victoria Wulsin is a public health doctor. She's a serious lady with real ambition and a good heart. And she's fought for a lot of important causes in her life -- but she's not a brawler, and she doesn't come across as one. And, to some extent, I think that's true of many women candidates.

Early financial support from the Netroots might well have helped win OH-02 (we lost by 2000 votes). Financial support from the DCCC would have surely won it (as Van Hollen has acknowledged). But if we want to see more women be successful in Democratic politics, I think we need to be reinforce the point that brawn/toughness and a combative nature aren't the only recipes for political success, and we shouldn't always be looking for those characteristics in our candidates.


by AdyBarkan 2007-04-14 02:01PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being
Your efforts to get on the list were not helped by having supporters directly send David, Matt, Markos and myself dozens of personal emails with that request. That was really, really annoying, considering that we had numerous open threads asking for nominations where people could have placed their comments instead. Further, the nominations go through the communities, not through us, and the lack of discussion of of Wulsin's race in nominating threads, which was at least partially a result of people being told to email us insyead, didn't help. It was obviously a coordinated campaign, not a bottom-up decision, since those emails came in bunches and from the same people. Considering that we all get several hundred emails a day without things like that, I'll just say that it didn't help.

And we gave early financial support to OH-02, to the tune of $500,000 in Paul Hackett's race, which first put the district on the map. We played a huge role in helping to set that district up for another close run. Also, if I remember correctly, Wulsin raised about $170K via Act Blue, which is hardly shabby. Very few candidates raised more. If everyone engaged in online fundraising wasn't directly supporting Wulsin, does that mean the netroots weren't doing enough for her?

I don't mean to come off so harsh, but I do bristle at the notion that the netroots didn't do enough in OH-02. Quite frankly, I don't think there is a single House district where we poured more energy and effort in the 2005-2006 cycle, despite it have a PVI of R +13. To imply that it is our fault Wulsin lost because we didn't raise another $20,000 for Wulsin before September of 2006 strikes me as well, I don't know what.

You guys ran a great race out there, and it is extremely frustrating that you lost. I also think you are right about the traits some people are looking for online. But the notion that we didn't help Wulsin and OH-02 even more is a little much, don't you think? Did we have to support her to the same degree as Webb to prove we were committed to the district or something?

Wulsin was one of the women candidates we supported--big time. Rather than discussing why we didn't support her more than any other candidate in the country, I'd like to talk about female candidates we didn't support much at all.
by Chris Bowers 2007-04-14 02:24PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

Certainly Vic got support, you're right. My main point -- and perhaps I didn't emphasize this enough -- was simply that I think it's important to look for a variety of traits among candidates, above and beyond toughness (or at least beyond the traditional, muscle and aggression type of toughness). And to the degree that many of the major Dem blogs are written and read (primarily) by men, it's important to make an active effort to find women candidates and appeal to women readers and activists.

Just to touch on the specifics of your response:

To the extent that supporters were emailing you, I apologize. I understand how that would get annoying  and I'm certainly responsible for a good portion of that.

I didn't mean to blame you or Markos or anyone else for the loss. My point was that there was a missed opportunity among various funding organizations -- DCCC, Emily's List (until very late, when then brought the big guns and $250 K), labor, various liberal PACs, and the netroots. Schmidt didn't raise any money whatsoever (30K on hand in the second quarter) and the progressive community failed to jump on the opportunity.

Certainly, the buzz around Paul's campaign did help us, and it made many voters comfortable voting for a Democrat. And a large part of that buzz came from his being a tough-as-nails Iraq vet who opposed the war and called Bush a son of a bitch. I think Paul's a good candidate, but I also think Vic struggled in his shadow precisely because she didn't have his machismo characteristics, and she had to create legitimacy around a different type of candidate. People (including some of us on staff at various times) were expecting and hoping for a second Paul, and we had to learn to run with a different type of candidate with different strengths and traits.

As for what we raised on ActBlue, that was a result of our campaign making an explicit effort to drive many of our donors to that website (even if they weren't already "online" activists. Our blog outreach -- although far from perfect, as you note -- was extensive and leveraged ActBlue as a tool.

Anyway, my complaint was that, earlier in cycle (summer 2006) when you were soliciting candidates to support, there was no acknowledgment of a gender gap. The early Netroots Endorsed list was, I think, about 80-90% men.

I'm glad that you're asking the question you do in this post.

by AdyBarkan 2007-04-14 03:17PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

The netroots isn't the netroots page.  But this isn't an issue of our behavior, it's a larger cultural problem.

We missed Donna Edwards, Carol Shea-Porter, and Vic Wulsin.  But that still leaves the list super-male.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-14 03:51PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

There was the whole Band of Brothers (no Sisters need apply) thing and lots of male (and a few female) military veterans promoted as candidates in 2006, following Kerry's 2004 campaign, which from the convention on came across as based on refighting Vietnam.

by joyful alternative 2007-04-14 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

Good question.  It's the same in the progressive blogosphere.  How many women are front-pagers for this blog and others?  I'd like to see women more involved at all levels of progressive politics and truthfully, I don't know why this has not happened.  Here in Louisville, I see quite a few women involved in political campaigns, but usually not as the candidate, though we did just oust Republican Anne Northup and replace her with Progressive male John Yarmuth.  

I worked for Yarmuth's opponent in the primary, Fighting Dem, Andrew Horne.  Horne's campaign staff was probably around 50-50, and frankly, I'd say the women were the better more effective workers, willing to step up and do anything.  Of course, that's just my impression.  Why more women are not running for office is hard to figure, but with the number of women I see working in campaigns, I hope that's an indication that in the future, we'll see more women seeking office.

One other thing to think about.  The Fighting Dem movement failed in it's original goal.  Out of the whole group, (correct if I'm wrong) only 2 Fighting Dems won.  The benefit from this group is probably being realized now by the formation of VoteVets. They've been very active lately and their striking Body Armor ad certainly helped Jim Webb in Virginia for sure.  Of course, everyone can claim credit for Webb's win--support from the netroots, especially Raising Kaine in Virginia, probably turned the Webb race.  

by Nick Stump 2007-04-14 02:09PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

I'm glad you brought this up, and I would make one addition---"white dudes."

I recall in 2006 looking at the netroots candidates page on ActBlue and thinking "jeez, a lot of white guys."  

A combination of factors which may be in play:

1. Implicit bias, ie, even though consciously we reject racial and gender stereotypes, underneath they may still be residues of them.  

2. Less candidates.  Even today, fewer women and minorities run for office than white males.  

3. Support for minorities often comes at least partially from churches, which are often somewhat culturally conservative.  So even though these candidates are progressive, they might be less progressive on sam-sex marriage or abortion than on other issues.  White male progressives, however, do not have to rely on religious institutions which are culturally more conservative.  

4. If a male conservative said, "Women shouldn't be allowed in the military" he might be called anti-woman.  But if Ann Coulter says it, she won't be called that (Plus, she's "just kidding, can't you take a joke" etc).  Same thing with anti-immigrant comments (Lopez), etc.  But no one is going to call a male progressive anti-woman because he says that believes that women can serve in the military or whatever.  So there may be less of an effort ot identify women who can make those arguments, because anyone can make our arguments.  

Some thoughts, I honestly don't know if any are right, and I'm sure there's other reasons.  Anxious to hear what others think.

by bosdcla14 2007-04-14 02:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Are enough women even running?
I wonder if women are simply grossly under-represented among those who offer themselves as candidates?  That, coupled with a recent bias (not a bad thing, just a fact) in favor of seeking out candidates with a military record (also a disproportionately male group) would predictably results in fewer females among the group.  
Couple that with the Emily's list bias, as noted in a previous comment, "skimming" some strong candidates, and you have one viable explanation for your observation.  
by nycounsel 2007-04-14 02:12PM | 0 recs
i've mentioned this a few times.

I would like to see less candidates that look like me.

Er, well not exactly like me, but less white males.

especially movement candidates.


by neutron 2007-04-14 02:14PM | 0 recs
Carol Shea-Porter in NH-01
should have been a movement candidate.  Paul Hodes was much more mainstream in NH-02, Carol was fiercely anti-war and certainly no shrinking violet.  But she ran her campaign on very little money, and we couldn't get you guys interested, because for you money was the measure.  Paul got lots of blog attention.
At least, that is how this woman sees it.  I would like to see all campaigns move to Carol's model,  instead of this genuflection to money.  Yeah, I know, that's how it's been for years.  Tell me another story about how things can't change.
Carol won a come from behind primary, and you still ignored her.  She won against a sitting well-funded incumbent in the general.  She is doing a wonderful job representing us, because she IS one of us.  And she owes us, and only us, her seat.
by bloomingpol 2007-04-14 02:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Carol Shea-Porter in NH-01
Without question, that was clearly a case where we had a bit of a blind spot. Although, I will say, the really, really late primary did not help, and we were done adding candidates by the time she rather surprisingly won the nomination. That is also why we never really considered, for example, John Hall.

When Jerry McNerny surprisingly won his primary against a DCCC candidate back in June, due to the great grassroots campaign he was running, that was the main reason he ended up on the netroots page. There could hardly be a better way to attract our attention and demonstrate netroots / grassroots support than doing something like that. By the time it came to Shea-Porter, it simply was too late.
by Chris Bowers 2007-04-14 02:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Carol Shea-Porter in NH-01

I didn't follow the NH-01 race too closely until the very very end, but I think it could be argued that Carol Shea-Porter benefitted from the fact that the race didn't get much attention.  It seems like her win surprised everyone, including her opponents and everyone in NH, so running a stealth campaign might have been the ticket she needed to pull out the win.

Again, I'm not saying that she should NOT have been on the list.  I think she is exactly the type of candidate that would be perfect for a netroots endorsement, I'm just saying that in this particular case, it may have actually benefitted her to not have the attention placed on her race.

by Fran for Dean 2007-04-15 09:49AM | 0 recs

Following the 1992 election, I was represented predominantly by women at every level of legislative office--from city council through US Senator, until I moved around the time of the 1994 primary. County Supervisor and State Senator were the sole exceptions.  I'm actually in the same situation today, 14 years later.

I was somewhat atypical, but not that much. Women have played a substantial legislative role in California--particularly core urban Democratic areas--with a noticeable bump up in '92 when Boxer and Feinstein were both elected to the US Senate.  But they have not fared nearly so well in executive offices.  In fact, Debra Bowen--my Assemblymember in 1993-94--was not only the only woman elected to statewide office as Secretary of State last November, but almost the only fresh face as well.  (We actually elected former Governor Jerry Brown as Attorney General. What's that about? Why not his dad instead?  Sure, Pat's been dead for a while, but he could use the exposure to a new generation of voters even more than his son.)

What I'm trying to say is that even where women are doing "relatively well," they still seem to serve as canaries in a coal mine--sensitive indicators of continued dysfunction in our democracy.  We should not just be asking "why aren't there more women?" but also, "what else is wrong with this picture?"  The two questions are closely related, but the later indicates that lack of women isn't the only thing wrong.

The fact is, our political system is broken in multiple ways, and we've only just begun to experience a political re-awakening.  Many of the problems with the system as a whole have been internalized in the Democratic Party, and even its relatively progressive constituencies, internal organs and allies.

We've got a lot of work to do.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-04-14 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Stalled

Agree about this. Fifteen years ago in Northern California, it felt as if women were reaching parity, even surging in political office. But the next generation, after the current crop age out, will be guys again.

I think a lot of it is about the intensely partisan cast of contemporary politics. Would a Lynn Woolsey be able to start in politics today? She came from having pulled herself up by her bootstraps from welfare (!) so she's tough -- but she presents as a well-meaning person who understands policy. The current culture almost requires not only policy interests but almost a lust for conflict. Even tough as nails women pols like Pelosi and Boxer aren't quite from that school -- though they do what they have to do. And Feinstein presents herself as magisterially above the fray and she is the toughest of our female pols.

The current current cultural style is simply uncommon among women. This may well change with the current repudiation of the neocon brand -- "all war. all the time." We might be on the verge of valuing some other characteristics in pols.

by janinsanfran 2007-04-14 05:29PM | 0 recs
You Have A Point, But...

Debra Bowen is the uberwonk of California statewide office-holders.  And she has a long history of pulling Republican support with her preactical problem-solving approach.  I was at her first re-election announcement back in 1994, and several local Republican officeholders spoke on her behalf.

So if she, being who she is, could make the move from State Senate to Secretary of State, there's got to be space for other women like her to move up from local office to the state legislature.

In short, I think women can do just as well. Sigh!  But maybe they've got school their male colleagues all over again.  It certainly didn't hurt Bowen that she was already a leading expert on electronic voting and its disconnects.  Similarly, there are plenty of other women are experts on hot-button issues.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-04-15 12:39PM | 0 recs
Linguistic sidebar

I don't know about the substantive question: I can't believe there's not a shedload of studies bearing on it.

What has me puzzled is the accent question.

Chris mentions as one of the candidates in Philly

Maria Quinones Sanchez

Now, concentrating on matters political the last two or three years, I've let my Spanish go rather badly.

But (as Mr Google thankfully confirmed) the correct way of writing these names in Spanish is María Quiñones Sánchez.

Going to the woman's site - which is, what I've seen of it, in English - I find that she spells her name Maria Quiñones Sanchez.

There's logic there!

In Spanish, the first and last name take a written accent, because the stress in each does not conform with the default stress scheme for Spanish.

Whereas, in the middle name, the tilde changes the consonant, rather than the stress.

On the other hand, Mr Google tells me loads of folks of that name go by Quinones - no tilde.

How Sixpack pronounces that, I shudder to think.

by skeptic06 2007-04-14 02:45PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates...

Speaking as a liberal white dude, I gotta say that the only place I feel at home, politically, is in the Progressive movement.  I wonder if one of the factors is simply selection bias -- that there are other places (organizations, etc.) for women or persons of color to go, so the white guys end up in the general movement by default.

That and, as recipients of privilege, we do tend to have received more tools which are useful for working in politics, as well as more encouragement to participate in a general sense.

Just musing.

by Kimmitt 2007-04-14 02:46PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates...

I was thinking about this as well, but didn't get to it in my post below. Because women appear to have had upward political mobility in the post-92 Dems, many may feel less excluded. However, we progressive white men have not felt that upward political mobility with that post-92 Dem establishment, and have had to create another political space to advance our agenda. We have a lot of women with us, to be sure.

by eugene 2007-04-14 02:58PM | 0 recs
The "General" movement?

As a white male myself, I'd be careful about designating ourselves the netroots the general movement. It has a specific goal--strengthen the Democratic party--and specific tools--messaging and electoral politics.

Why isn't the community organizing movement, for example, the general movement? Please don't recreate the cultural hegemony of white men within a movement that is trying to dissemble it.

by CT student 2007-04-14 03:23PM | 0 recs
Re: The "General" movement?

That's a fair point -- I meant to differentiate the more pan-ideological community from the more focused communities.

(Please note that less focus does not imply more virtue; any successful broad-based movement must consist both of focused groups moving a given aspect of the agenda forward and more general groups working to integrate the agendas.)

by Kimmitt 2007-04-14 08:00PM | 0 recs
Two disconnects

My stab at an answer:

Women's political organizing was one of the key components of what we call the DLC era Democratic Party. 1992 is a good example, but we can also see this here in Washington State: Our 3 major statewide offices (the two US Senate seats and the Governor) are held by moderately liberal Democratic women who have survived this decade without active netroots support. Murray and Cantwell got some in '04 and '06 (and Murray more actively courted it); and to survive in '08 Gregoire will at least have to try. But they all got where they were through a Democratic system that by all accounts has been extremely favorable to them.

Perhaps we may be missing something really significant here in the receptivity to women of the post-1992 Democrats, the same establishment we frequently rail against. This may help explain, for example, why Hillary is doing so well among women voters in the current polling. It might be that, speaking broadly, Democratic women are less upset with the current party than Democratic men. After all, the Speaker and our leading 2008 candidate are women.

blogswarm seems to hit on an important institutional factor as well with his comments about EMILY's List - NARAL has often functioned the same way too.

Many of us can point to the repeated failures of the post-1992 Democrats on women's issues. There are also a lot of women among the netroots who feel unrepresented. Barbara Ehrenreich continues to write about the millions of working- and middle-class American women left behind by the post-92 Dems. But there might well be a lot of women who see things differently.

We also must ask how our movement speaks to women's issues and how welcoming we really are of women. Currently there are debates raging at dKos about Markos' comments about misogynistic threats. Whatever we think about the specific comments, many women have expressed dissatisfaction with the overall tone toward women and their issues at dKos. Perhaps that causes divisions. There are a LOT of women centrally involved in the left blogosphere, from Pandagon to TalkLeft to FDL to My Left Wing. But they don't seem to be engaged in the electoral processes to the same degree. Is there a (perhaps unfair) perception that women aren't taken seriously by a boys' club?

To conclude I see two big disconnects: between us and women who have seen the post-92 Dems as offering upward political mobility and therefore reward that establishment with votes and support; and between men in the netroots and women in the netroots who see the men as clueless or uninterested or even hostile to their involvement and their issues.

by eugene 2007-04-14 02:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Two disconnects

I think you've nailed it about who Hillary's supporters are -- and the women who feel that they came into their own in the political system in the 90s are demographically really important among voters -- 45-65 years old, peak age for actally voting. And they do feel represented, at least in California and Washington. In CA, there is not a following generation of women pols -- so there will be guys again in a few years. Is this true in WA too?

Most political campaigns feel like boys' clubs to me and I'm a pretty boyish woman. I thrive in these campaigns, but the feeling is almost always there, even when there are a lot of women around. Campaign culture is boyish -- its a fight and its winner take all. As long as that is true, a lot of women are going to find the environment foreign.

by janinsanfran 2007-04-14 05:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Two disconnects

You know, those are really very interesting points about the demography. I wonder if Hillary's support is strongest among women in that age cohort.

Here in WA, yeah, most of our female politicians fall into that generation - Murray, Cantwell, Gregoire, but also Democrats like Lisa Brown (Senate Majority Leader), Mary Margaret Haugen, Margarita Prentice, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Darlene Fairley (powerful State Senators), Helen Sommers (House Appropriations Chair), etc. And they were largely elected in the early to mid 1990s.

Now that I think about it the only woman under 45 who has had any political momentum here lately was Darcy Burner. Most of the people we elected last fall to help us take super-majorities in the state legislature were in fact men.

This is a really fascinating point you make.

by eugene 2007-04-14 08:06PM | 0 recs
I hold a municipal-level

elected office, and I am the only woman on a five person board. Before me there had only been one in fifteen years.

Every few years, we have to recruit people to run for the board, and I always look for women first, but it's damn hard. They just don't want to do it. I think maybe it's fear of conflict, they usually say something like, "oh I could never do that!"

Anyway, I guess I agree with the "canary in the coal mine" theory. Being a traditionally male-dominated venue, politics has a masculine ethos of strife and competition, which makes it unattractive to most women. Although when women do enter it, like Nancy Pelosi, it seems like their "female" tendency towards alliance building serves them well, and they can thrive, if only they can survive long enough to come into their own.

I like to think that the progressive movement, even if it is mostly represented by dude candidates at this point, can nonetheless contribute to a long-term "feminization" of politics, since the basic social model of progressivism is one of collaboration instead of dominance and submission.

by Sadie Baker 2007-04-14 03:09PM | 0 recs
Re: I hold a municipal-level

I think you've put it very well. This is what I was trying to convey with my comments up above.

by AdyBarkan 2007-04-14 03:27PM | 0 recs
Re: I hold a municipal-level

There's something deep going on here.  I think that women are afraid of public aggressiveness, the leaders of the feminist movement have simply failed to address this, and Democratic party leaders don't care.  It's immensely frustrating and very much a canary in a coal mine problem.

Chris and I fret about this problem a lot.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-14 03:53PM | 0 recs
Re: I hold a municipal-level

Yeah, but is "aggressiveness" something that we should constantly be seeking in our candidates? There are different ways of being a successful candidate -- not all candidates need to be aggressive, at least in the Paul Hackett sense.

I think a major mistake that we all made in the 2006 cycle was looking for Paul Hackett clones. There are other ways to win.

by AdyBarkan 2007-04-14 04:17PM | 0 recs
Re: I hold a municipal-level

You're missing my point.  Of course we should support female candidates, but there just weren't many to pick from.  I'm talking in a more generic sense, that, just anecdotally (and I'm not sure how to poll for this), many women in politics tend to feel really uncomfortable taking public stances, on blogs, listservs, and then using them to organize to gain and wield power.  Not all, obviously, and I'd point to CREW as an example of exceptionally aggressive women.  

But even the feminist blogosphere, such as it is, tends not to raise money for candidates or take an interest in partisan politics.  That's not our doing.

I would say I never liked the fighting Dems meme, I thought it was annoying and focused on internal confidence problems.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-14 05:11PM | 0 recs
Re: I hold a municipal-level

When you say you don't like the "Fighting Dems" concept, could you explain which one you mean?  As I recall, there are two separate, and sometimes overlapping, definitions:

  1. A "Fighting Dem" is simply a Democrat who is a military veteran
  2. A "Fighting Dem" is a Democrat who will agressively "fight" in terms of politics, especially when attacked politically.

For example, in my mind, Paul Hackett would be an example of both types of Fighting Dems.  Jon Tester would be an example of the second kind (think "I don't want to weaken the Patriot Act.  I want to REPEAL it.").  Christine Cegelis could also be considered the second kind of Fighting Dem, but Tammy Duckworth would only be the first kind.

by Fran for Dean 2007-04-15 09:59AM | 0 recs
My pet theory is

remember who ruled the school back in 7th grade? It was the girls. There is nothing more ruthless than a 7th grade girl.

The way they do it is by keeping other people half in love with them, and half scared to death of them. Not scared that they will beat you up, like a 7th grade boy might do, but afraid they might say something that will make everyone laugh at you. And they move upward by moving sideways, they groom one another like monkeys.

Women/girls wield enormous social power at an early age, but then lose interest in it. They should all be natural politicians. Provided, of course, that they can outgrow the amorality of 7th grade.

Anyway, that is how I see myself, I am not Jim Webb but a much nicer, more decent version of my 7th grade self. Trying to "use my powers for good," so to speak.

by Sadie Baker 2007-04-14 06:48PM | 0 recs
Re: I hold a municipal-level

 No, Matt, aggressiveness is not taken well from women.
      IIRC, women graduate law school in slightly greater numbers than men, no?
by sb 2007-04-14 04:39PM | 0 recs
Re: I hold a municipal-level

This is pure stupidity.  Do you read the feminist blogs at all?  The last thing they are is "afraid of public aggressiveness."

Just because you don't pay attention to something doesn't mean it isn't there.

Btw, good to know that you and fellow white guy Chris "fret about this [non-existent] problem a lot."  I bet the feminist blogs are happy to know someone is thinking about the "problem."

by Stahlsworth 2007-04-14 05:48PM | 0 recs
Re: I hold a municipal-level

Ok, fine.  All of the feminist blogs are full of aggressive women.  Now, do they raise funds for political campaigns?  Encourage each other to run for public office?  Get involved in politics?  If they do, then anecdotally, the results have been less than spectacular.  Why?

That's what Chris and Stoller are fretting about.  And if you haven't noticed, this post is written to help them correct a blind spot.  Belittling them doesn't help that any.

by pseudo999 2007-04-14 08:32PM | 0 recs
Re: I hold a municipal-level

That's not what Stoller was "fretting about" in his initial comment.  His initial comment (which I was responding to) said, "I think that women are afraid of public aggressiveness" as his reason for why there are not more "women movement candidates."  This is bullshit sexist essentialization.  This needed to be pointed out regardless of whether or not all your other questions are valid.

by Stahlsworth 2007-04-15 04:29AM | 0 recs
Re: I hold a municipal-level

I'm surprised by your sympathetic use of the word "aggressive". I see this sympathetic use of "aggressive" as an indication of the problem. When I look the word "aggressive" up in my dictionary it says:

1.    characterized by or tending toward unprovoked offensives, attacks, invasions, or the like; militantly forward or menacing: aggressive acts against a neighboring country.
2.    making an all-out effort to win or succeed; competitive: an aggressive basketball player.
3.    vigorously energetic, esp. in the use of initiative and forcefulness: an aggressive salesperson.
4.    boldly assertive and forward; pushy: an aggressive driver.

Definitions 2, 3, and 4 aren't so bad, though the word "assertive" or "dedicated" would convey most of the positive aspects.

But definition 1, how most people think of "aggressive," is problematic. Aggression in this sense is exactly what is wrong with the Bush administration -- menacing, unprovoked militance and offensiveness. This is not at all a progressive stance.

If we (progressive netroots or Democratic party or whatever) want candidates who are "aggressive" then we won't get many women and very few real progressives. What we want are assertive, energetic, and dedicated candidates who will make an all-out effort to succeed, but do so in a civil manner and by playing according to the rules of law.

by RandomNonviolence 2007-04-14 06:54PM | 0 recs
Re: I hold a municipal-level

What I'm hearing is that you haven't had female candidates groomed to act more stereotypically male and handed you on a silver platter.  There are a huge number of factors that contribute to the dearth of female candidates - things from pressure to stay home with the kids, to the double bind of being seen as an emasculating bitch if you're outspoken and an ineffective shrinking violet if you're not, to the undercurrent of machismo in netroots politics (for instance, the "Band of Brothers" branding that was pushed for a while was on its face exclusionary and really off-putting to me).  The high percentage of netroots-endorse white dudes indicates a certain level of tunnel vision.

The thing is that things have to change for things to change.  Looking at the face of netroots candidates, it's hard to come away thinking much has changed at all.  There's definitely a delicate balance between giving the people what they want and giving them what they didn't know they wanted, but if I were in your shoes, I'd be asking, say, feminist bloggers to open this question up to their audiences.  Actually - I'm going to email a few now, and see if there's anything my meager audience has to say.  It's a lot easier to find out what people want when you talk to them, not about them.

by saraeanderson 2007-04-14 07:55PM | 0 recs
Not sure who you're replying to

at this point when you say, "What I'm hearing is that you haven't had female candidates groomed to act more stereotypically male and handed you on a silver platter," but if it's me, you're not listening.

I'm not talking about among bloggers, I'm talking about women I know personally in my small town in Tennessee. Women I know from my County Democratic Women, or my children's school. Women who seem to have no problem assuming leadership in other areas of life, but shy away from taking part in elective politics.

And I'm not asking anyone to groom them for me, or teach them to "act stereotypically male." I'm the one doing the grooming, or trying to!

by Sadie Baker 2007-04-15 09:46AM | 0 recs
Re: I hold a municipal-level

 I'm pretty offended by this blame-the-women line of argument.
  That's flat-out absurd- to argue that women categorically object to strife and competition.

     I don't think you can begin to have social equity for women in this country until childcare is addressed in some significant way- at the very least tax credits for corporate daycare.
      I think that as long as childcare is done on an every one fend for themselves basis, the misogynistic backlash against feminism will  continue.


by sb 2007-04-14 04:34PM | 0 recs

I don't object to strife and competition. And childcare and tax credits for daycare are really not a make-or-break issue when you're trying to recruit candidates for a board that meets once a month, in the evening.

So you tell me, why can't I get any women to join me on this board? This is the kiddie pool level of elective politics, a perfect place to get your feet wet and see if you like it. If women aren't entering into the feeder system, they aren't going to be coming out the back end, running for state or national office later on.

So you tell me why, when a person, another woman, approaches them and says, "I admired your work with the such-and-such group, or the such-and-such project, and I think you would be a good person for this job. Would you think about running? We need someone like you on the board."

Why do they say no?

by Sadie Baker 2007-04-14 06:58PM | 0 recs
And I also believe

we won't begin to have a serious approach to childcare in this country until more women get into higher office and make it happen. It's kind of a chicken-and-egg problem, in my mind.

by Sadie Baker 2007-04-14 07:07PM | 0 recs
Re: I hold a municipal-level

I don't think it was "blame the women" so much as "blame the societal forces which consistently produce this set of opinions."

by Kimmitt 2007-04-14 08:02PM | 0 recs
Re: I hold a municipal-level

I don't know if this is true or just urban myth, but...

I read somewhere that females are just as likely as males to run for office once asked. [I bet a lot of males have those same misgivings about running, too, but may articulate their excuses a bit differently.]

Another way of approaching this issue is, how do we go about making sure we ask/encourage more females to run for office?

by WVaBlue 2007-04-15 04:20AM | 0 recs
Not my experience.

This is what I'm talking about. One woman I asked, for example, she didn't run, but her husband did, instead!

And I am not "blaming women," I am talking about my actual, real-life experience.

I don't know what to do about it in the big picture. All I know that I can do as an individual is, keep trying to set an example ("but look, it's fun" I tell them") and keep trying to recruit.

by Sadie Baker 2007-04-15 04:44AM | 0 recs

There's a lot of factors here, and the fact that Dems were getting walloped by the GOP on national security "weakness" in the 02 and 04 cycles has an awful lot to do with the choice to try to inoculate ourselves by running military guys.  Even Darcy Burner's bio ad was half about the military men in her family (that was an awful ad).

But for us in the netroots, I think there's a way we could help ourselves.

I think we have a few templates in our head of the kinds of candidates we are looking for.  In addition to the "fighter" and "no bullshit" abstractions, I think we carry around memories of candidates we've liked, and when we go looking for new candidates, we try to find people who match these mental images.  Paul Hackett is the most important one for a lot of us; oftentimes in a lot of these races, I think we are looking for Paul Hackett.  (In fact, Jim Webb and Jon Tester are kindof both Paul Hackett.)  I think we know that there is this type of person that we like as our candidate and that we have liked in the past, and so we go looking for that.  The choice of Rick Noriega in Texas as a potential grassroots nominee shows exactly this tendency.  "Oh, he's young, oh, he just got back from Afghanistan, oh, he must be perfect."  I'm not trying to take away anything from Rick Noriega, but I think we have a certain type of candidate that we already know how to look for, and that particular candidate is male.  

The solution is to learn what types of female candidates we like, find the female leaders we admire, and turn them into templates too, and learn how to look for new candidates that capture their same combination of inspiring qualities.  I think having a more clear image in our mind of the kinds of women we might be looking for will make it much easier for us to actually see them.  

So for example, I know people were crazy about Barbara Ann Radnofsky, even though she was less than a longshot.  What was the package of qualities that made her so inspiring?

What is it about Darcy Burner or Christine Cegelis or Debbie Wasserman-Schultz that people like?  

I'm not suggesting there's only one template to be found either.  Ann Richards and Barbara Jordan and Darcy Burner obviously all had very different schticks, but they all seemed to work.

This quickly starts to require a more personal knowledge of candidates than I have.  I started to try to sort people into types (Klobuchar with Cantwell, Blanco with McCaskill, Granholm with Sebelius with Capito, Wilson with Snowe with maybe Dina Titus), but I don't have enough real information about any of these people to make meaningful character assessments.  But, I do think the key, or a key at least, is to develop a more clear mental image of the kinds of women we've been deeply impressed by in the past, because holding some more clear mental pictures in our head will make it easier to see and notice other people who might have those same wonderful qualities.

by texas dem 2007-04-14 03:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Template

I never really understood what it was that made so many in the netroots sign onto Darcy Burner's campaign, though I will admit to not having followed it too closely.  On the other hand, I think the common strain that we liked between Cegelis and Wasserman-Schultz is that they're both agressive and not afraid to speak up for what they believe in.  I think that's the trait that the netroots looks for most often, is not being afraid to say what you believe, even if it's not the most popular thing among your constituents. And I think part of the reason why we like those candidates is that,if that "unpopular position" is a progressive position, the candidate often learns that their constituents DO in fact support it.  

The clearest example I can think of this is the one I stated in another comment above: Jon Tester's "I don't want to weaken the Patriot Act, I want to repeal it."  Any traditional Democratic strategist would tell you that's an unpopular position that will make you look weak and lose votes.  I think we in the netroots think just the opposite - it allows you to make the case against the Patriot Act, and since people know it's not the politically correct thing to say, it makes you look strong by not being afraid of it.

by Fran for Dean 2007-04-15 10:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Template

PS - great idea!

by Fran for Dean 2007-04-15 10:14AM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being
   Great post.  I noticed this phenomenon too.  Women progressives were not only underrepresented in the 2006 election, they also underperformed expectations.  I believe they run less frequently and are less successful because of a lack of establishment support.  You know that the most successful candidates have the support of both the establishment and the grassroots.  Sestak is a good example.  He was a progressive candidate with the complete support of the establishment and of the grassroots.
    Women don't seem to get as much establishment support.  Bill Clinton came to southeast PA and campaigned HARD for Sestak and Patrick Murphy, but only half-heartedly for Lois Murphy.  I also think that women are subjected to the micromanagement of their campaigns by the establishment more than men are.  Emanuel ran Duckworth's campaign, and I think the voters realized it.  Nancy Boyda gave the finger to the DCCC and she took out her ultra-conservative opponent because she ran a genuine campaign.  It's the same thing with Shea-Porter - another genuine campaign.  Women are being pressured to run "male" campaigns particularly with war going on, and it just doesn't ring true to voters.  
by cilerder86 2007-04-14 03:23PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

Lois Murphy was "the" establishment candidate for two cycles, and got a ton more support up front than Sestak or Pat Murphy.

Not saying the problem is not real.  But, she is not a very good example.

by DanielUA 2007-04-14 08:16PM | 0 recs
David Byrne says....

The girls dont want to play like that,
They just want to talk to the boys.
The just want to do what is in their hearts,
And the girls want to be with the girls.


And the boys say, what do you mean?
And the boys say, what do you mean?
Well there is just no love,
When theres boys and girls.
And the girls want to be with the girls,
And the girls want to be with the girls.

Girls want things that make common sense,
The best for all concerned.
They dont want to have to go out of their way,
And the girls want to be with the girls.


And the boys say, what do you mean?
And the boys say, what do you mean?
Well there is just no love,
When theres boys and girls.
And the girls want to be with the girls,
And the girls want to be with the girls.

Girls are getting into abstract analysis,
They want to make intuitive leap.
They are making plans that have far reaching effects.
And the girls want to be with the girls.


And the boys say, what do you mean?
And the boys say, what do you mean?
Well there is just no love,
When theres boys and girls.
And the girls want to be with the girls.
And the girls want to be with the girls.

by Stewieeeee 2007-04-14 03:24PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

Maybe some of it's due to Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emmanuel and whom they pursued.

In Pennsylvania, we might very well have freshman Senator Barbara Hafer if we'd have been allowed to choose our own.

by joyful alternative 2007-04-14 07:40PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

Bull#*%&. Rahm Emanuel recruited tons of women (much more arguably too many than too few). 10 of the 21 first wave candidates on Red to Blue were women. Only 1 of those women (Kirsten Gillibrand) won. Of the 11 male First Wave Candidates, 9 won.

by bobdoleisevil 2007-04-14 08:24PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being
Maybe Rahm can't tell which women candidates can win. Or maybe he ran a style of campaign that didn't help women candidates after they were recruited.
by Chris Bowers 2007-04-15 12:40AM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

Would Lois Murphy be an example? I've heard she had heavy establishment support, and that's what did her in.

by joyful alternative 2007-04-15 02:52PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

What did Lois in, compared with Patrick Murphy and Joe Sestak here, was that she didn't run on the war as a primary issue.  Indeed, that factor unites a lot of the close losses among female candidates -- Madrid, Farrell and at least 1-2 others, and I wonder to what extent that's a factor generally here -- we jumped on the most aggressively anti-war campaigns.

Also, geography: a lot of key bloggers got to know Patrick Murphy personally because of where his district is.  Carol Shea-Porter and John Hall, among others, didn't have that opportunity.

by Adam B 2007-04-15 03:17PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

Tammy Duckworth as well -- which was too bad, given that she is an Iraq vet.  But Iraq was not a big issue in her campaign, or in the campaign ads the DCCC ran against Roskam.

by Maven 2007-04-15 07:07PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

I think you would get more non traditional (read, non white men) if you had public financing of elections.

by DanielUA 2007-04-14 08:18PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

Sorry.  I mean, read NOT white men.

by DanielUA 2007-04-14 08:18PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being
fundraising wasn't the issue in virtually all of the close losses women and minorities suffered in 2006.
by Chris Bowers 2007-04-15 12:40AM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

Yeah, but my point is that you are filtering out an especially big number of good candidates before they decide to run.

by DanielUA 2007-04-15 08:46AM | 0 recs
That's not how it worked out in Maine...

In the mid-1990s, Maine had the highest percentage of women state legislators in the country - close to 40%.  By 2004, the year I ran for Maine House, it was down to less than 20%.  Two events occurred in the meantime - public funding of elections and term limits.  I don't know which really did it, or if it was the combination of allowing not only more women, but even more men, who hate to raise money to run, along with a new unspoken rule not to challenge incumbents, but allow their 4 terms to expire before running for their seat.  But clearly, something changed and women didn't stop running, but they stopped winning, particularly in primaries.

Despite being the "movement" candidate (endorsed by Progressive coalitions and the local media), I lost my primary to a white establishment male, albeit by only a few votes.  I could write a dissertation as to why I think that happened (including placing a chunk of the blame at my own feet) but I do believe that the demographic of primary voters plays against women, and Progressive women in particular.  My district was 65% women, with an average registered voter age of 33.  However, the average age of those who voted in the previous primary was 62, and over 50% were male.  So if people were actually voting their demographic (not that they always do), the white 60+ year old male had the advantage over the non-white 40 year old female, though it wouldn't have appeared that way from the overall district stats.  [I believe that's one reason why the young female Green Party candidate did so well (34%) in the general election, despite being in a district with only 3% registered Greens.]

by MBW 2007-04-15 07:33AM | 0 recs
Re: That's not how it worked out in Maine...

Very interesting comment.

by DanielUA 2007-04-15 09:57AM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

An interesting topic.  Here are some of my ideas that have not yet been addressed in the post or this thread:

What if we look at the possible causes from three points of view:

1.  Why don't women run more?

2.  Why don't voters vote for the ones who do run?

3.  How does the American system affect this all?

As far as I can tell, most of the answers so far are about why women don't run more, and a few are about the system and how it affects that.  

My angle is slightly different as I was born in Europe and have noticed that there are very specific differences between the American system and some European systems, especially those of Scandinavian countries, and these differences affect the chances of women succeeding.

These aspects of the American system also interact with the latent distrust of women as politicians in many voters' minds, and it is this that I believe causes the scarcity of women in positions of political power.  It may even feed back into how women think about a life in politics and may explain why so few choose to run.

A short summary of my theory is this:  The two-party system with the winner-takes-all aspect means that it is risky to run a woman against a man if the country is at all sexist against women.  The sexists will not vote for a woman, but the nonsexists will vote for a man, so choosing a man is always safer.  Note how low the female representation percentages are in all the two-party countries.  I believe that particular arrangement hurts women and also minority candidates.  

It is also risky to elect a woman as the candidate if the stereotype of a politician is a Teddy Roosevelt-type person, and if the candidate is supposed to have single-handedly strangled many enemies in a war.

It is risky to elect a woman when the language of politics is all about baseball and wars and when aggression is the one thing that seems so very lacking in women.  Though I would have thought that we have learned a lesson about unthinking aggression in the White House during the last six years...

Now, the last two paragraphs don't describe sexism  as such, but they do describe a system in which being a woman can be a handicap.  Of course being a female politician can be advantageous, too, if women practice reverse sexism and are more likely to vote for women.  But it is unclear that this would happen enough.

To return to women's reluctance to enter politics:    Note that women are not equally reluctant to do this in all countries of the world.  This suggests that it's not just some innate gal-thing we are talking about here.  Perhaps American women know that they will be put through a very special wringer in politics.  Their worthiness as mothers will be questioned in a way that is not done with men, and even their ability to be good wives will be publicly doubted.  Just imagine if Newt Gingrich was called Nina Gingrich but with Newt's actual history.  How would this Nina have been treated by the media and the American public?

It's not a level playing field.

by Echidne 2007-04-14 09:30PM | 0 recs
Not an innate gal-thing

Absolutely. I know this because I've seen women take up leadership positions in many non-political venues, and do it well.

This is not something that is wrong with women, it is something that is wrong with politics, and the conundrum, as I see it, is how do we change it without women? If women don't show up, things don't change, but if things don't change women will continue not to show up.

by Sadie Baker 2007-04-15 09:56AM | 0 recs
How about a chromosome theory?

I think it is worth considering the possibility that there is a genetic basis for the sort of movement leadership you're talking about.

There is a theory that suggest that the role males hold in leadership stems from the variations caused by the XY pair versus the XX pair in our chromosomes.

Because women need both Xs to manifest many genetic traits, women tend to display lower variance.

On the upside for women, this means lower instances of undesirable traits among women, including a number of diseases and  developmental disorders.

On the upside for men, it also means that men can manifest highly desirable traits very easily, because one good Y or X chromosome is all they need to display many traits.

It's worth pondering.  Do men lead movements more often simply because their chromosome make-up increases the variance in male traits enough to ensure that the most successful individuals (those with the highest variance from the average) are likely to be males?

by jcjcjc 2007-04-14 11:28PM | 0 recs
Re: How about a chromosome theory?

Well, we do know that sexism exists.  We know that women are paid less for doing the same work as men, we know that women face sexual harassment and ridiculous scrutiny of their looks and are socialized to defer to the judgement of men.  

Why can't we address that before we go trolling the human genome to find any differences between men and women that might possibly have an effect on our behavior?  

Really, I doubt that men are genetically predisposed to be better leaders of countries because they just don't have the experiences women do.  Without female voices in power, we will continue marginalizing child care and reproductive health and sexual harassment as "women's issues," and producing governments of men, by men, and for men.  

Living in a Democracy gives us a chance to engineer our society to benefit all individuals, and not just limp along trying to make more money and have fewer people die.  

by saraeanderson 2007-04-15 08:57AM | 0 recs
Re: How about a chromosome theory?

Look, I'm all for women rising in government.  I'm just not keen on "engineering" that rise.

The fact is, women do have a choice.  They can vote for other women, and more often than not they don't.  They can run for office, and more often than not they don't.

There is a clear difference between the genders and how they treat their place in the larger political picture.  It isn't just some post-modernist scam where we've tricked women into working against their own good.  Something bigger gives.  

Women largely don't even make the effort to aspire to power.  Even when it is clearly to their benefit AND within their grasp they still don't.

You said, "Living in a Democracy gives us a chance to engineer our society"

Living in a democracy all but ensures we will never be able to engineer our society!  

And that's a good thing.  Our system is dynamic, adapts to change and survives better than any system so far conceived by any human society.  When ideas suck, we throw them overboard, often with the people that originated them.

Men are better positioned to function in a dynamic society.  Even as we throw more of them into jails.  Even as our educational system clearly fails males.  

Men tend to end up over-represented at the top and the bottom of our system.


by jcjcjc 2007-04-15 09:26PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

jcjcjc, I would be most interested in a link to the scientific paper which has established a leadership gene and has shown it to depend on the xy vs. xx pair.

by Echidne 2007-04-15 12:47AM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

All I'm talking about is the breadth of distribution.  Not an inherent leadership gene.  OK?

In almost any measurable difference between men and women, men tend to be measured more widely at both ends of the scale.

There tend to be more smart men.  There tend to be more mentally retarded men.

There tend to be more men thrown in prison.  Yet, there tend to be more men who rise to high status.

These differences are usually traced to the fact that while women need a pair of XX chromosomes to manifest an erratic trait, men only need a single chromosome to manifest it.

Now, obviously, we wouldn't even be having this discussion if there weren't a higher distribution of males at the higher end of leadership scale.

Men are more likely to not vote.  Yet men are also more likely to be voted into office.

Doesn't it sound suspiciously similar to other dynamics that are linked to gender?

by jcjcjc 2007-04-15 10:01PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

Forgive me, but that sounds suspiciously like the argument that women just can't play the trombone as well as men because they don't have the physical capabilities -- and that's why they've been underrepresented in symphony orchestras.

Except that when they started having people audition behind screens -- look, the number of women skyrocketed!  Whoops, it turns out people were biased, even when they were sure they weren't and there was an alternative explanation they'd proffered.  Who'd have thought?

See the final chapter of "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell, or the original research by Goldin and Rouse (2000).  Or look at the study by Wenneras and Wold (1997) which showed that women have to be substantially more objectively competent to be rated equally when applying for postdoctoral fellowships.  Or look at the study by Steinpries, Anders, and Ritzke (1999) that showed that with identical CVs from men and women, the men were preferred 2:1 in hiring by professors.

Or stay ignorant.  Whatever.  But don't go making up b*s* pseudoscience to try to dismiss the idea that there's an addressable  problem when huge numbers of peer-reviewed reputable studies show that the effects of gender schemas, lack of critical mass, and bias mean that many women are at a disadvantage that has nothing to do with their inherent abilities and everything to do with their environment.

We get to choose what kind of a world we want to create.  And we get to choose what kind of an attitude we bring to the table.  But I will freely admit that the kind of a world I want to create is -- if I may paraphrase -- one where ALL people will be judged by the content of their character, not by their sex nor by the color of their skin.

by Darcy Burner for Congress 2007-04-16 09:30PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

I'm not denying that bias exists.  And I am not saying that any one successful woman is inferior to any one successful man.  

I would offer that it is unrealistic to pretend there aren't differences between men and women.  

Even in cases where bias has been removed, there is still a large variance between men and women.

How does that get explained away?  For that matter, why should it be explained away?

by jcjcjc 2007-04-23 12:19PM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

Just as Randi Rhodes has spent the week talking about institutional racism, I think the larger picture is institutional sexism.  Many women are juggling work, kids, keeping a home somewhat respectably clean, cooking, etc.  Women still do the majority of household chores in this country; women still have primary responsibility for childcare.  Childcare is frequently an obstacle for women, but its never an obstacle for men (well, to be fair, rarely).  Why is that?  Many women, whether single parents or in committed relationships, feel like they have enough on their plate without throwing in responsiblity for a campaign or an elected office.  You'll notice many women get into politics AFTER their kids have grown up.

I have a friend who's contemplating a run for Democratic committeeman in her ward -- she's single, no kids, good job.  Me, single mom, mediocre job which doesn't quite cover the bills... I feel good that I get out to vote and to canvas once in a while for a candidate.  Big difference in energy level and amount of time we can dedicate to politics.  I could do a once-a-month board meeting :) but that's about it.  

And there is so much about the electoral process that is so unappealing.  I am completely turned off by the raising money aspect of campaigns: I don't want to spend any time on the phone calling people I don't know asking them for money.  The thought gives me the absolute horrors.  So I will probably never run for office, because there is no way I'd do that.

But my guess is the big issue for most women is TIME, especially women with kids.  We already feel like there isn't enough of it in the week, let alone adding a campaign of any sort to it.  

by Maven 2007-04-15 08:00AM | 0 recs
Promoting female candidates
This white dude took pains to promote female candidates in November. In my ActBlue page, I took affirmative action to provide rough gender equity.

Gender Candidate Count Donors Total $ All pages

I feel pretty good about this. My rationale was twofold: first, to try to correct the obvious imbalance which I suspect means that we're not getting the best representation we could; second, that the various sexual scandals (particularly Hookergate and Foley) would incline the electorate to look more kindly on women, that this would give us an edge.

The results were that about 40% of the dollars through my page went to women, versus 30% overall from the same set of candidates. I'm glad I did this.
by carlmanaster 2007-04-15 09:21AM | 0 recs
Re: What's With So Many Movement Candidates Being

The poli sci literature shows that women are much less likely to run without being recruited (can't remember any specific cites).  This reflects a whole lot of history as you allude to with the statement about broader political factors and culture.  Official party organizations do a better job of recruiting all candidates than this vague, amorphous netroots, which seems to mostly rely on candidates to sort of bubble up and really doesn't recruit at all.  So therefore, establishment candidates will be more likely to be female since women are more likely to need to be recruited in order to run.  The good news is this can be fixed since netroots leaders (e.g. you, Kos, etc.,) as well as other less well-known netrooters can begin to actively recruit women to run for office.  If you know a good potential candidate encourage HER to run.  

by Calikid 2007-04-15 12:27PM | 0 recs


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