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Sam Pettey

Poli Sci Prof’s Research Attracts International Audience

10/10/18

What makes it more likely that a woman will run for political office? After Dr. Samantha Pettey’s paper, “Female Candidate Emergence and Term Limits,” which was published last year in Political Research Quarterly, provided some answers, the London School of Economics (LSE) asked her to write a piece for its American political science blog, United States Centre.

The resulting Sept. 7 blog post, “Term limits encourage more women to run for office in U.S. State Legislatures,” allowed Pettey, an assistant professor of political science, to reach a much wider audience – those not necessarily studying political science, but who want to know about the research. “Academic research is not always read by ‘the masses,’ so being able to share my work with people is humbling,” she said.

Pettey said she’s always been curious about the lack of women in political office. “Rather than looking at ‘outcomes,’ or who wins office, I wanted to see if women were actually running for office, or, as the field calls it, ‘emerging,’ or emergence. Further, research on term limits was rather mixed. Some scholars found they made no difference in the type of candidate elected to office, while others found term limits decreased women’s numbers in office. I wanted to reexamine this puzzling finding.”

The 2016 election of President Donald Trump marked a turning point. “Since then, a huge number of women have decided to run for office. Many have won primaries, and there are a record number of women on general ballots in November – at all levels of government,” Pettey said.

To delve deeper into the conversation on how the research relates to the 2018 midterm elections, Pettey examined the partisan gender gap between Republicans and Democrats. “Women are running for office more, but these women are likely to be running as Democrats—not Republicans,” she said. 

To read Pettey’s blog post, go to http://bit.ly/2oOy9Wn.