Missouri ballots to feature record number of female candidates

The number of women in Missouri who are running for office this year has nearly doubled since 2016, with 103 women on the state’s November ballot.

In 1992, the last so-called Year of the Woman, it appeared that “parity was on the horizon” in terms of female representation in Missouri, according to Terry Jones, a professor emeritus at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. But the percentage of women in the Missouri legislature has hovered around 20 percent for the last two decades, growing by fewer than 5 percentage points since the 1992 surge.

The number of women in Missouri’s General Assembly is 23.4 percent, below the national average of 24.9 percent. Women hold 46 of 197 legislative seats in the state.

Pipeline problem

The main reason women hold a smaller proportion of legislative seats in Missouri and elsewhere is that fewer women run for office compared to men, according to Richard Fox, a political science professor at Loyola Marymount University.

Women are more likely to run if they have been frequently recruited or encouraged to do so, and if they feel as qualified as their male counterparts, Fox said.

Trump bump

In Missouri, 71 of the female candidates are Democrats, and 32 are Republicans. That matches the national breakdown, which is 70 percent Democrat and 29 percent Republican.

Fox said many of those Democratic candidates are liberal and progressive women who have been spurred to run by the 2016 election and the administration of President Donald Trump.

Read more: St. Louis Public Radio

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