State legislatures are where the coming generation of national leaders learn the ropes and get ahead. Still, for all the political energy from a record number of women candidates last year, they failed to crack an important barrier in statehouse politics. Greater success had been predicted by experts in the year of Hillary Clinton’s landmark candidacy.

Women candidates failed to win even 25 percent of the nation’s 7,383 legislative seats. The percentage of women legislators is stuck at 24.8 — not much more than it has been across this decade.

The total number of women winning in 2016 rose to 1,830, which is 22 more than the record set in 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But this is nowhere near the surge that was anticipated.

“These are really just blips in what looks like a flat line,” Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University, told The Hill. Ms. Lawless, who has been tracking political ambition in women and men for 17 years, wasn’t optimistic when asked about the number of women at the recent Trump protest marches vowing to run for office.

The glass could stay 75 percent empty, she said, unless conditions change markedly to make politics more inviting to female candidates in the male-dominated arena.

The sexism that marked President Trump’s candidacy is one barrier for potential women candidates. But no less a factor is that women are far more likely to doubt that they are qualified to run for office (60 percent) than men (40 percent), according to the institute’s research. A result is that too few women are choosing to run, and party officials are less likely to encourage them to try.

Read the entire story at: nytimes.com

Sharon Sanders
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