Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Sociology

Content Description

1 online resource (xii, 299 pages) : color illustrations, color maps.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Gwen Moore

Committee Members

Christine Bose, Ronald Jacobs


gender in politics, gender inequality, political participation, representation, women in politics, Women, Women in public life, Women legislators, Local government, Women politicians

Subject Categories

Political Science | Sociology


The purpose of this research is to analyze women’s underrepresentation in elected local government and to explore the particular constraints associated with this type of political participation. Understanding why there is a dearth of women in elected office, with a focus on actual barriers to entry at the local level, is critical because the lack of gender balanced representation has serious implications for the way our democracy functions and has significant consequences for citizens because of the resultant effects on governance and quality of life. Theorists have identified cultural, political, and social impediments to women's participation in politics, and this study evaluates whether or not some of these obstacles are present for women in the Mid-Hudson region of New York. Additionally, scholars have noted that there are barriers to success in the workplace for women caused by a gender imbalance in work-family obligations. This study examines whether or not primary responsibility for household tasks and child care is a significant obstacle to participation for women in the arena of local government. There is very little empirical research on this topic at the local entry level of government utilizing these frameworks. This project seeks to fill that gap. Multiple datasets, both primary and secondary sources, are utilized: a database of elected officials in the region (Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster counties), web survey results of both male and female elected officials, along with a companion telephone survey of the general population for comparative purposes. Three basic sets of comparison assessments will be undertaken, differences between: 1) women in elected local government positions in contrast to their female peers in the general population, 2) women in elected local government positions in contrast to their male elected peers, and 3) elected women with considerable private sphere responsibilities compared with those who do not.