Title

Gender, Race, and Descriptive Representation in the United States: Findings from the Gender and Multicultural Leadership Project

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2006

Abstract

This research draws on the nation's first comprehensive database of elected leadership of color to provide a multi-cultural, multi-office, and multi-state look at the contours and context of descriptive representation by race and gender and with women of color at the center of analysis. We find that key to the persistent trend of growth in elective office holding of the nation's Black, Latino, and Asian American communities in recent decades is the expanding size of women of color elected officials. Compared to whites, gender gaps in descriptive representation are smaller among nonwhite groups. Although the proportion of nonwhite population may impact the degree of electoral success, we find parity ratios to vary by race, gender, level of office, and state. For example, states that have the highest share of the black population did not produce the highest level of representation of Black women. Finally, we find that gender differences within each race are generally significant, but far greater racial differences are found among men and women of color elected officials–especially at the municipal and school board levels of offices. We conclude that women of color have played a significant role in advancing descriptive political representation of people of color and of women in the United States as a whole.

Comments

"Gender, Race, and Descriptive Representation in the United States: Findings from the Gender and Multicultural Leadership Project" by Carol Hardy-Fanta, Pei-te Lien, Dianne M. Pinderhughes, and Christine Marie Sierra. Published in Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, Vol. 28, Iss. 3-4, 2006: http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J501v28n03_02