In 2009 in the United States, women comprised 16.8 percent of Congress. At a state level, the percentage is slightly higher, with women holding nearly one-quarter, 22.9 percent, of elected offices. These numbers have risen significantly over the past 20 years, when women held only 5 percent of the elected offices at a national level and 14 percent of elected offices at a state level. However, given that women comprise over half the population, these numbers still raise a number of questions about the representation of women in government. First, does having women in office matter? Second, why are women a significantly smaller number of elected officeholders than men? And third, what obstacles, if any, do women face when running for office? This entry first ...

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