Run, Jane, Run! Gendered Responses to Political Party Recruitment
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Many researchers point to gender inequities in party recruitment practices to explain women’s underrepresentation on the ballot. However, there has been little systematic research about how men and women respond to recruitment, so we do not know whether gender-balanced recruitment would actually lead to gender-balanced outcomes. We conduct two studies to address this question. First, in cooperation with a county Republican Party, we identically recruited 5510 male and 5506 female highly active party members to attend a free candidate training seminar. Republican women were half as likely to respond to the invitation as men. Second, we conducted a survey experiment of 3960 voters on the Utah Colleges Exit Poll. Republican men’s level of self-reported political ambition was increased by the prospect of elite recruitment significantly more than Republican women’s, thereby increasing the gender gap vis-à-vis the control. The gender gap in the effect of recruitment on political ambition among Democrats was much smaller. Together, these findings suggest that to fully understand the role recruitment plays in women’s underrepresentation, researchers must understand the ways in which men and women respond to recruitment, not just whether political elites engage in gendered recruitment practices.