Are All Districts Created Equal? Examining the Relationship between Socio-political Factors and "Women-Friendly" Districts

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Alexandra Noetzel
Class of 2019


This project asks readers to consider what factors influence women to enter races for U.S. Congress and why some districts are more “women friendly” than others. While multiple studies have been done that examine factors such as gendered media bias, cultural and society gender norms, and institutional factors in explaining the dearth of female candidates, there is little research on how different demographic elements of congressional districts effect a woman’s decision to run in a primary election. Hence, I examine the various sociopolitical factors of congressional districts that are unique to a district, such as unemployment rate, high school and college graduation rate, median household income, and a variety of other political variables to determine if they have any effect on the presence of a female candidate within that respective district’s primary election. This potential relationship will be studied by collecting data on the number of women who ran in either the Democratic or Republican primary during the 2016 election (the first year with no increase in the number of women in Congress in the past decades). I will also study if any of the district variables have varying effects across party lines, for example, if median household income shows an increase in women in the Democratic primary versus women in the Republican primary. Women are much more likely to identify with the Democratic Party than men, and women, in general, are likely elected in different districts than men.

Comments from Mentors

Alex Noetzelis an extraordinary student with a highly inquisitive mind.Her work ethic is very strong; working with her on this project has been an absolute job.Alex is truly a student of politics and of life, continually striving to better understand important and complex phenomena.Working with Alex on this project was highly rewarding as I was able to get to know her on a much deeper level than I had in class.She is a remarkable woman who will surely make a substantial impact on her community and profession.

--Joanne Greene

Alex Noetzel is a terrific student to mentor.She is intelligent, positive, and excited to learn and do research.Alex's thesis project featured original research on the factors that influence female candidates' decisions to run for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Her impressive ability to think creatively, analyze data, and communicate to a broad audience is apparent in this research project.It was a blessing to work with her!

--Grant Ferguson

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AddRan College of Liberal Arts