According to a recent Associated Press report, a record number of women have filed to run for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 2018, 309 women have filed paperwork to run for the House; the previous record of 298 was set in 2012.
The AP came to its conclusions using data from candidate information released by the states and data from Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics.
According to the AP, many women are also running for congressional seats that have never had a female representative.
As of March 2018, 83 women fill the 435 seats in the House of Representatives.
The surge in women candidates isn’t limited to just the House, either.
Earlier this year, it was reported that 79 women were “running or ‘seriously considering’ running for governor nationwide” in 2018, with 40 women having actually filed to run across the country so far; the previous record of 34 was set in 1994.
With just 29 women having filed to run for the U.S. Senate, the number of female candidates hasn’t yet beaten the 2016 record of 40, but not all states’ filing deadlines have passed, and a report earlier this year indicated there were as many as 49 women planning to run in 2018.
While sex is in no way a predictor of performance once in office and a person’s qualifications are most relevant, it should still be a positive sign that more women are stepping forward to bring their experience to the political arena. Studies have found that women often underestimate their qualifications and abilities and that women candidates are not recruited at the same rate as men. A 2008 Brookings report said the following:
Women, even in the highest tiers of professional accomplishment, are substantially less likely than men to demonstrate ambition to seek elected office… [M]en continue to enjoy more comfort, confidence and freedom than women when thinking about running for office.
[Women] are less likely than men to be recruited to run for office. They are less likely than men to have the freedom to reconcile work and family obligations with a political career. They are less likely than men to think they are “qualified” to run for office. And they are less likely than men to perceive a fair political environment.
If more qualified women ran for office on a consistent basis, leading to more qualified women in office, it would stop being considered such a novelty to see women in positions of power.
So, with that in mind… May the best person win! (Especially if we can get a few more Nikki Haleys into office!)
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent those of any other individual or entity. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarahmquinlan.