Community Engaged Learning with Women & Politics – Part 1
This Fall Women & Politics was fortunate enough to work as a community partner with the Community Engaged Learning Program at Western University. We had 4 women students from the course, Interest Groups and Social Movements, who did some background research for our organization related to women and politics. The students’ research provided some data and evidence that will inform the direction of our work in regards to encouraging more women to get involved in politics. The areas that the students looked at in their research were: soft entry points for women hoping to get involved in politics, barriers that exist that prevent women from entering politics, best practices from organizations with similar goals to Women & Politics, and lastly government policies that facilitate women’s participation in politics.
You can accesss the student’s full report here but we are going to provide a brief summary of each of the areas of research. Their research is in no way an exhaustive search of the literature, similar organizations or government policy, but it does provide some evidence for the work and future direction of Women & Politics.
Section I: Women, political ambition & soft entry points to politics
Some of the key findings of this section comes from a study done in the US of College students and political ambition. ( Lawless & Fox, 2014). The men and women surveyed were of comparable age, race, religions, household income, and party affiliation.
Men said they were twice as likely to have considered running for political office someday, while women were 50% more likely to say they would never run.
40% of male students had been encouraged to run for office later in life by at least one parents, while only 29% of women said the same.
Men were more likely to have taken political science class, discuss current events with friends and have run for student government positions in college.
Encouragement to run for office is one of the strongest predictors of political ambition. 35% of women vs. 49% of men given political encouragement by at least one source.
But 66% of women who received encouragement reported interest in future candidacy
Women who played sports were 25% more likely to show political ambition
Other study & literature findings:
Women were more likely to participate in informal political efforts and organizations (easier for them with other time commitments and less financial resources)
Women DO vote as often or more than men but are less active in formal politics
Important to target where women predominate – part-time work and in caring professions, networks and websites.
UK expanded opportunities for internships & targeted them at women with much success
Childcare and having meetings at different times can be helpful.
Women generally more interested in local politics
What this means for Women & Politics?
Important to encourage girls at a young age
Including families in political participation could positively impact children
Programs in schools directed at girls are important to nurture (HeadStart)
Asking women to run is a vital step in getting more women to run
Seeking out women who are engaged in more informal political endeavours may be useful
Training programs to encourage women into political participation could be used
Internships and mentorship are important.
Outreach strategies need to reach women where they are at
Childcare, meeting times are important
Local politics is a good place to engage women so target municipal level