With Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton both running for president recently, it may seem that there are plenty of women candidates around, but actually there are relatively few.
Several factors contribute to this gender gap. For one thing, women are substantially more likely than men to see the electoral environment as highly competitive and biased against female candidates (so they don't jump into the fray). Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin's candidacies may have actually made this perception worse.
We may deplore the marginalization of women in the Middle East, but the United States remains a long way from a political reality in which women and men are equally likely to aspire to run for a political office. This is true even though both major political parties are running a record number of female candidates for the US Senate in 2012. But women, assuming they win their primaries, will still compete in fewer than one-third of all races. Thus, even if most of the female candidates win, it will still amount only to a 1 to 2% increase in number of women serving in the US Congress.
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