Jill Greenlee publishes in Journal of Political Science Education

Jan. 25, 2014

Professor Jill S. Greenlee, Mirya R. Holman (Florida Atlantic University), and Rachel VanSickle-Ward (Pitzer College) have coauthored "Making it Personal: Assessing the Impact of In-Class Exercises on Closing the Gender Gap in Political Ambitition" in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of Political Science Education.

There is evidence that some obstacles to women running for political office emerge early in the political development of women and girls. Lawless and Fox (2005) identify several reasons for lower political ambition among women relative to men. Among their explanations are that girls are less likely to be engaged in political conversations in their childhood homes than are boys, and women receive less encouragement to run for office by family members and friends. While it is unclear what interventions may help close the ambition gap, research suggests some avenues for change. We consider how to use the classroom as a place to encourage female college students to reflect on their own potential as candidates. We detail and test two ways in which instructors can offer students opportunities to learn about the ambition gap and to consider their own possible political future. On balance, our findings demonstrate that classroom exercises that expose students to women in political office, coupled with literature and discussion that contextualizes those individuals’ experiences, encourage greater self-reported political ambition, particularly among female students. Moreover, we find this positive outcome in both small seminars and large lecture courses.