Date of Award:

5-2022

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Political Science

Committee Chair(s)

Damon Cann

Committee

Damon Cann

Committee

Christy Glass

Committee

Joshua Ryan

Abstract

While women’s candidacy continues to reach record numbers in the United States, women remain grossly underrepresented as candidates and elected officials at all levels of government. Many people and groups are focused on increasing women’s political involvement and often these efforts focus on empowering individual women to become candidates. However, when women do run for office, there are many systemic challenges they face, such as the fact that whether or not women work professionally or for compensation, they perform more unpaid care work than their men counterparts.

In the past few years, multiple states across the nation have begun allowing candidates regardless of gender to use campaign funds to pay for child care, which in theory, could increase the number of women running for state legislatures. Through an analysis of elections between 2010 and 2020, this paper finds that in states where this policy exists there is not an immediate effect on the rate of women running for lower chamber legislative seats. This paper also includes interviews with six women serving in the Utah House of Representatives. These interviews provide insight into how this policy can support individual lawmakers, even if it were to not have a long-term impact on increasing the overall rates of women running for office.

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