“Remember the Ladies” in the “Secret Garden”: Perceptions of Female Local Political Committee Members on the Recruitment of Female Candidates for Local Elected Office: A Descriptive Phenomenological Study
Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Dr. Anthony P. Chiarlitti
Dr. Janice Kelly
In the United States, female underrepresentation has been linked to fewer women running for and winning elected offices. The purpose of this descriptive phenomenological study was to investigate female candidate recruitment by local political committees. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 25 female local political committee members from 20 committees in 17 municipalities across five counties in New York State. Public election data from these municipalities revealed low female candidacy rates and comparatively low levels of female representation. Phenomenological data found candidate recruitment to be gendered and indicated that the recruitment of women for local political office is difficult despite a high number of women on local political committees and in positions of committee leadership. The demands of traditional gender roles and weaknesses of capacity in the local political committee system were found to negatively affect female candidate recruitment. Reports of misogyny, an intersectionality of misogyny and racism, and an intersectionality of misogyny and ageism were linked to general committee activities, recruitment, campaigning, and post-election activities. The data suggest an “intersectionality barricade” to recruitment can emerge when multiple barriers to recruitment converge. Moreover, the foundation of a new theory, “gendered recruitment theory,” emerged from the findings. Recommendations include creating a female candidate campaign support clearinghouse, condensing and strengthening the local committee system, and maximizing female social networks.
McCoy-McKay, Janette A., "“Remember the Ladies” in the “Secret Garden”: Perceptions of Female Local Political Committee Members on the Recruitment of Female Candidates for Local Elected Office: A Descriptive Phenomenological Study" (2021). Education Doctoral. Paper 487.
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