Political Parties and PACs Key to Recruiting More Women for Congress

New report shows women aren't running because no one is asking them to.


The Democratic women of the House. Despite record number of women lawmakers this term, females make up just 18 percent of Congress.

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[SLIDESHOW: The Women of the Senate]

The study shows that one of the most effective ways to increase the number of women holding office is to have more of them seeking higher office. After former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was chosen as a vice presidential nominee in 2008, she was able to catapult her "momma grizzly" brand into a marketing campaign for other conservative women like Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Moving forward, FairVote advocates that political parties set a numerical goal for female candidates to recruit. Currently 110 countries have quotas to ensure that a certain percentage of representatives in government posts are women. While political parties have yet to adopt rigid guidelines, Democrats and Republicans have begun to see that women candidates must be a key piece of their electoral strategy considering more than half of the electorate are women.

Republicans have launched Project GROW, a grass roots outreach program, in an effort to recruit more female candidates and engage women voters across the country.

Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, says that recruiting women and building its coalition of female voters is a “top priority” this year.

“With specific leadership from our female members, Project GROW will empower, encourage and support women across the country, on and off the ballots, to become more engaged in their communities and to stand up for the issues that are affecting them and their families the most," Bozek says.

Democrats, however, say they already have the edge in recruiting women to run for office. In the 113th Congress, there were 17 freshman Democrats who were women. There were three freshman Republicans, according to the FairVote study.

"Democrats were proud to elect the most diverse caucus in American history in 2012 - unlike House Republicans, who are 90 percent white men. We'll continue to build on our efforts in 2014 and beyond by recruiting women who are problem solvers in their communities,” DCCC Chairman Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y. said in an email. “Our most important recruiting tool is what we stand for: Democrats will fight for women while House Republicans continue to wage a war on women that would take them back a century."

More News:

  • How a Record Number of Women Won Senate Seats Last Election
  • 5 Tips For Women on Gaining Wealth and Power
  • GOP Turns 'War on Women' Back on Democrats

  • Updated 08/20/13 at 4:13 p.m.