Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis


Political Science

Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

Women in politics; Representation; Elections; Gender equity; Kentucky politics; Gender deficit; Leadership


This paper seeks to uncover the reasons for the underrepresentation of women in politics, with a geographical emphasis on the state of Kentucky. The research question explored is, “Why do so few women run for political office?” Surveys of women currently enrolled in college and phone interviews with women serving in the Kentucky state legislature are used to investigate this question by testing two hypotheses. First, the tendency of women to avoid running for office in the first place may be attributed to either weak recruitment of women or lack of political ambition among women. Second, a female tendency to lack political ambition exists partly because women display higher aversion to politics than men. Both survey and interview data from the study support my first hypothesis that weak recruitment and lack of ambition play a role in keeping women off the ballot. Survey data also support my second hypothesis that diminished ambition results from high female aversion to politics; however, qualitative interview data are inconclusive due to the inability of the question set to measure the concept of aversion.