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Women’s Institutional Resources Labor Unions and Women’s Leadership Appendix Tables The equal participation of women in politics and government is integral to building strong communities and a vibrant democracy in which women and men can thrive.
By voting, running for office, and engaging in civil society as leaders and activists, women shape laws, policies, and decision-making in ways that reflect their interests and needs, as well as those of their families and communities.
Public opinion polling shows that women express different political preferences from men, even in the context of the recent recession and recovery, when the economy and jobs topped the list of priorities for both women and men.
It examines how women fare on these indicators of women’s status, the progress women have made and where it has stalled, and how racial and ethnic disparities compound gender disparities in specific forms of political participation. Although women in the United States were denied the right to vote until 1920 and in the following decades were often not considered serious political actors (Carroll and Zerrili 1993), women today have a significant voice in deciding the outcomes of U. Women’s stronger voter turnout relative to men’s in the United States reflects an ongoing worldwide struggle to increase women’s political participation.
The Political Participation Composite Index combines four component indicators of women’s political status: voter registration, voter turnout, representation in elected office, and women’s institutional resources. National-level efforts to expand opportunities for women to engage in political processes, and the international movement for women’s rights, have helped to make the inclusion of women in the electorate acceptable in countries around the world.
Across the 50 states, composite scores range from a high of 14.40 to a low of -8.12 (Table 1.1), with the higher scores reflecting a stronger performance in this area of women’s status and receiving higher letter grades. These numbers represent an increase since 2004, when women held 14 of 100 seats in the U. Although women’s political participation varies among nations, women today vote in all countries with legislatures except Saudi Arabia, sometimes at higher rates than men (Paxton, Kunovich, and Hughes 2007). Registration and turnout are higher for both women and men in presidential election years than in midterm election years, when, in terms of national office, only members of Congress are elected. Th is change likely stems from the participation of the nation’s first African American candidate in the presidential election (Philpot, Shaw, and Mc Gowen 2009).
Between 20, the number and share of women in state legislatures and in the U. Senate and House of Representatives increased, while the number and share of women in statewide elective executive office declined (CAWP 2015a; IWPR 2004). Senate (20 percent) and 84 of 435 members of the U. In the United States, women are considerably more likely to be registered to vote and to go to the polls than men. In the 2012 general election, 67.0 percent of women were registered to vote and 58.5 percent voted, compared with 63.1 percent and 54.4 percent of men (U. Women’s voting rates vary across the largest racial and ethnic groups. Their voting rates were approximately twice as high as the rates for Hispanic women (33.9 percent) and Asian women (32.0 percent; published rates from the U. Census Bureau are not available for Native American women).3 The higher voting rate among black women compared with non-Hispanic white women reflects a shift that first occurred in the 2008 elections, differing from the voting patterns of the elections up to 2004, when a larger share of white women had voted compared with any other group of women (U. Nationwide, voting rates also vary considerably among women of different ages.
Women’s voter registration and turnout also showed signs of both progress and lack of progress: the percentage of women who registered to vote was lower in the 2010/2012 elections than in the 1998/2000 elections, but the percentage of women who went to the polls increased during this period (Table 1.1; IWPR 2004). Nationally, 61.5 percent of women were registered to vote in the 2010 midterm election and 42.7 percent voted, compared with 57.9 percent of men who registered to vote and 40.9 percent who cast a ballot (U. In 2012, black and non-Hispanic white women had the highest voting rates among the total female population aged 18 and older, at 66.1 percent and 64.5 percent, respectively (U. Young women have a much lower voting rate than older women. Women’s voter registration rates vary across states (Map 1.2).
In the 2012 election, 41.3 percent of women aged 18–24 voted, compared with 58.5 percent of adult women overall. Overall, 81.7 million women reported having registered to vote in 2012 and 71.4 million voted, compared with approximately 71.5 million men who said they had registered to vote and 61.6 million who cast a ballot (U. Although women constitute a powerful force in the electorate, a new wave of recently passed state voter identification laws has raised concern that some women (and men) may be prevented from casting ballots in future elections.