Date of Award

Spring 5-2021

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Chair

Kate Greene

Committee Chair School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 2

Troy Gibson

Committee Member 2 School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 3

Iliyan Iliev

Committee Member 3 School

Social Science and Global Studies


In this project I studied why women are underrepresented in state legislatures. I conducted a data set ranging from 2000 to 2018 for forty-three US states, analyzing the percentage of women who won and the number of women who ran in the elections. Using this data, I found evidence that personal life choices have the most effect on rather women want to run for political office and successfully pursue political careers. Having this specific quantitative dataset, the study provides a better understanding to why women are still widely underrepresented on the state level. I also find that my independent variables effect my dependent variables differently with different significances; thus, women’s influences in running for office and winning elections are different. However, fertility rates negatively affect both dependent variables, women running and women winning elections. Women tend to separate their private choices of having a family before or after having political careers, resulting in a lack of female candidates and winners. Essentially, underrepresentation in female political contenders is due to their personal choice of opting out of a political career.