Women are underrepresented at all levels of American politics—from state houses up through the presidency. There have been no female presidents, every state legislature is majority male, and twenty out of the one hundred United States Senators are female. The gap between the number of elected men and women in Congress is especially large within the Republican Party. Of the 301 seats in the current United States Congress held by Republicans, only 28 are held by women (CAWP 1). It is important to examine why women are underrepresented in American politics because political representation is an important step in women’s equality. Women have biological and sociological differences from men which give them unique perspective and policy needs.
When women run for office, they win at a similar or even higher rate than male candidates (Shames 11). Instead, women run for office at a low rate, and there are many theories as to why. In addition, researchers have explored why Republican women run at an even lower rate than Democratic women. Many explanations revolve around the differences in the media portrayal of female and male candidates, and, relatedly, voters’ perceptions of candidates dependent on gender. Previously, it was hard to quantify voter and media portrayal of female candidates since surveys can be inaccurate and print media is difficult to aggregate; however, the rise of social media has made it much easier to analyze what media personalities are publishing and constituents are discussing. News outlets, journalists, politicians, observers, and political strategists use Twitter to discuss political happenings. By analyzing what these people are discussing in relation to politicians and how those discussions differ among male and female politicians, observers will get a clearer picture of why women are less likely to run for office. The findings from this project will bolster the argument that sexist rhetoric used against women contributes to them not wanting to run for office, people discuss different policies regarding women than men which is exacerbated over party lines, and Republican women have lower profiles than Democratic women and Republican men which leads to decreased promotion in political office.