Document Type

Article - On Campus Only

Publication Date



The number of women serving in state-level executive office varies tremendously across the American states. Drawing upon a comparative politics framework developed by Pippa Norris and findings from analyses of women in U.S. state legislatures, we derive a set of hypotheses to explain this state variation. Our analysis of elections held between 1979 and 1998 demonstrates that women are more likely to run for executive office in states where more women are in the eligibility pool of candidates, and where the demands of gatekeepers and recruiting practices of political parties favor women's candidacies. Furthermore, the likelihood that women win these elections is influenced by the supply of candidates, the demands of gatekeepers, and the characteristics of a state's political system. We also conclude that the predictors of women in executive office have changed over time and that our explanations for state variation of women in these positions are more thorough for elections occurring before 1991.

Recommended Citation

Oxley, Zoe M., and Richard L. Fox. “Women in Executive Office: Variation across American States.” Political Research Quarterly, vol. 57, no. 1, 2004, pp. 113–120.