Last night the Carolina Women's Center sponsored a great talk by Jennifer Lawless, professor of political science at Brown and a recent candidate in a Democratic primary for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from Rhode Island. Mixing reports from her own unsuccessful (but energetic!) run for office with conclusions gained from researching some 4,000 men and women eligible for public office around the country, she argued persuasively that although women candidates do not face substantial barriers in terms of fundraising and support once they make the decision to run for office, the thinking patterns behind the decision to run are very different for women than they are for men. Given a man and a woman of equal qualifications, the woman is likely to say she is not qualified--or not yet--whereas the man is ready to jump in. Even men with much lesser qualifications are likely to downplay the importance prior experience, claiming that "vision" and "passion" are more important.
I had the privilege of introducing Dr. Lawless as she spoke from her book It Takes A Candidate: Why Women Don't Run for Public Office.