Monday, January 26, 2015

Women less likely to run for state legislature if it means time away from children, study says

Because women do the majority of child rearing, they often opt for job flexibility over political positions that require large amounts of time away from home, says a study by Yale University, John Sides reports for The Washington Post. As a result, "the farther away a state legislative district is from the state capital, the less likely it is that there will be at least one female candidate in that district or a woman serving as state legislator."

Study author Rachel Silbermann asked a national sample of undergraduates if they would rather take a job in Congress five hours away or a job as a state legislator at distances of either 15 minutes or five hours away. She said women were twice as likely as men to pick state legislator over Congress if the state capital is closer to home.

"The common thread in these analyses is the fact that time spent traveling to and from work is particularly burdensome for those who spend time caring for children," Silbermann writes. "Thus, elected offices that require a politician to travel a long distance will, all else equal, be less attractive to those who expect to spend more time caring for children."

Women only make up 19 percent of members of Congress, 24 percent of state legislators and 10 percent of governors, Silbermann writes. Women in public office are less likely than men to be married (88 percent of men compared to 71 percent of women), more likely to be divorced, separated or widowed (25 percent women, 6 percent men), less likely to have children under 6 (3 percent women, 6 percent men) and less likely to have children under 18 (14 percent women, 22 percent men).

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