Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Political Science

First Advisor

Richard Forgette

Relational Format



Historically, the United States has consistently elected a smaller percentage of women in all levels of political office when compared to the population at large. Today, the average percentage of American females in politics lags behind the world average. However, some United States regions have fewer female representatives than others; presently, all but one of the Southern states have a smaller percentage of women in politics than the national average. Because of the American concurrence of the importance of equal rights, a lack of female political representatives specifically in the South is of cultural and political significance. In this study, I seek to determine the causes of the gap between the percentage of female politicians in the South and the percentage of female Southerners and focus on two possible sources for the underrepresentation: an absence of Southern female candidate emergence and a Southern voter bias against female candidates. I also seek to establish cultural conservatism's effect on these two possible causes. Through state legislature and survey data analysis, I ascertain that both a lack of female candidate emergence and a voter bias contribute to the deficiency in the number of Southern female politicians and that cultural conservatism is a foundation of both of these agents. With the understanding of these causes, I hypothesize potential methods for reform.

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