100 Years of Suffrage and Girls Still Struggle to Find their “Fit” in Politics

100 Years of Suffrage and Girls Still Struggle to Find their “Fit” in Politics

By Angela L. Bos, College of Wooster, Mirya R. Holman, Tulane University, Jill S. Greenlee, Brandeis University, Zoe M. Oxley, Union College and J. Celeste Lay, Tulane University

When women gained the national right to vote 100 years ago, remarkable possibilities for their voice and presence in politics opened. However, despite gains in women’s representation, numerous gaps continue to exist in which adult women engage less in politics than men. In identifying and explaining adult gender gaps, little attention has been given to whether gaps emerge among children. This is a pressing issue because children’s perceptions are likely to influence their participation as adults. This article explores whether and how girls and boys differently view politics and their role in it. We report survey data from more than 1,600 children ages 6 to 12 to explore basic gender gaps in political interest and ambition. We argue that these results may reveal the roots of a larger problem: 100 years after women gained suffrage, girls still express less interest and enthusiasm than boys for political life and political office.

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