Date of Award

Summer 8-2021

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Chair

Kathanne Greene

Committee Chair School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 2

Mark Brockway

Committee Member 3

Iliyan Iliev

Committee Member 3 School

Social Science and Global Studies


Even though women make up roughly 51% of the population of the United States, they are underrepresented in all branches of American government. Although there has been recent literature on women in politics and women and parties, very little has been done on women in party leadership. Research suggests that there are fewer women in elected office because of a lack of supply, or qualified and willing women, or a lack of demand, an electorate willing to vote for a woman. This study seeks to understand the levels of participation of women as party delegates in state party conventions and whether the barriers that they face are specific to each party Using a survey data set of over 5000 state party convention delegates, I analyze how women participate and the parties’ ideals on women’s role in politics. While I expected to find more Democratic women in leadership roles, this study has shown that perhaps the barriers are not specific to party as more Republican women delegates have held a party or government office than their Democratic women delegate counterparts. This paper suggests that the political culture of the Republican Party discourages women from joining, but once they join, they are equally as likely as Democratic women to hold leadership positions.