chapter  3
34 Pages

Political Ambition and Running for the U.S. House

Elective politics draws into its arena only those who are willing to demonstrate, in a very public manner, the desire to gain political office. By virtue of being candidates, individuals make a declaration of their ambition for political power and authority. As a result, earliest quantitative studies of political ambition had very little to say about women as office seekers. This silence was largely function of numbers. Joseph Schlesinger's landmark 1966 study, Ambition and Politics, includes all elections from 1914 to 1958. The Citizen Political Ambition Study surveyed women who were accomplished in their fields; they were partners in law firms, business owners, professors, and school principals. Female students in the college-level eligibility pool were almost 20 percent less likely than their male counterparts to consider running for political office. Like their older counterparts, however, they had equally positive feelings about engaging in campaign activities like fundraising, going door-to-door, and meeting with the media.