Nearly 1 in 3 countries globally has elected a female head of state or government; the United States is not one of them. There is great potential for this statistic to transform in 2016. With Hillary Clinton’s announcement of her presidential candidacy on April 12 and Carly Fiorina projected to throw her hat in the ring on May 4, it may finally be possible for the glass ceiling to come crashing down. While there is much to be determined in the next year, there are a few things we at Parity know already:

  • We expect that a woman sitting in the Oval Office will spur other females across the country to pursue leadership positions, as we found in our Twin States: A Multiplier Effect research.
  • A female Republican in the Oval Office would be a major step towards closing the GOP gender gap and could provide more support to Clearing the Primary Hurdles for future women candidates.
  • When women run, women win. Read our Shifting Gears report to find out more.

Stay tuned in and engage with Parity as we write, research, analyze and gather thought leaders from both sides of the aisle to create a more reflective and effective democracy.

What Will It Take to Make A Woman President?

In her new book, author Marianne Schnall poses this question to leading political experts. Their responses are enlightening, engaging, and reflective of society’s evolving stance on female leadership and power. Read the book, listen to excerpts, and learn what it will take to finally send a woman to the White House.

  Follow Marianne  


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Reflections, Research, and Resources

Though the US has yet to elect a female president, many pioneering women have blazed a campaign trail toward the Oval Office. Learn more about these inspiring candidates and the organizations committed to electing our nation’s first woman president. Learn more >>


Big Girls Don’t Cry

Rebecca Traister | 2011

Big Girls Don’t Cry offers an appraisal of the 2008 presidential campaign and its transformative nature for American women and the nation. The campaign for the presidency reopened conversations about gender, race, generational difference, sexism, and feminism.

Hillary Clinton's Race for the White House: Gender Politics and the Media on the Campaign Trail

Regina G. Lawrence and Melody Rose | 2010

This book considers women's access to the presidency, with a focus on Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign. Historical background is provided on gender and the media’s influence on presidential elections, and the authors speculate about the likelihood of electing a woman to the presidency in the future.

The Motherless State: Women’s Political Leadership and American Democracy

Eileen McDonagh | 2009

American women attain more professional success than most of their counterparts around the world, but they lag surprisingly far behind in the national political arena. The Motherless State reveals why the United States differs from comparable democracies, several of which routinely elect far more women to their national governing bodies and chief executive positions.

Subtle Sexism? Examining Vote Preferences When Women Run Against Men for the Presidency

David Paul and Jessi Smith | 2008

This article discusses how the gender of presidential candidates influences public perceptions of their qualifications and vote choice using five candidates: Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Dole, John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain.

Rethinking Madam President: Are We Ready for a Woman in the White House?

Lori Cox Han | 2007

Rethinking Madam President offers a critical assessment of the inroads made by female candidates into the previously male bastion of electoral success. The authors tackle a range of provocative issues: the conflation of the presidency with masculinity; the media’s focus, even today, on the novelty of a female candidate; public support for women that often evaporates in the voting booth; and more.

Social Desirability Effects and Support for a Female American President

Matthew Streb, Babara Burrell, Brian Frederick and Michael Genovese | 2006

Public opinion polls show consistently that a substantial portion of the American public would vote for a qualified female presidential candidate. Because of the controversial nature of such questions, however, the responses may suffer from social desirability effects. In other words, respondents may be purposely giving false answers as not to violate societal norms.

Issue Saliency and Gender Stereotypes: Support for women as Presidents in Times of War and Terrorism

Erika Falk and Kate Kenski | 2006

This article examines how issue saliency affects the public's perceptions of whether a man or a woman would make a better president. People who thought that terrorism, homeland security, and/or the U.S. involvement in Iraq were the most important problems facing the nation were more likely to say that a man would make a better president.

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