It’s not too soon to start thinking about 2014’s elections, and political consultants say it will be a great year for the ladies. Though women currently make up only 18 percent and 20 percent of the House and Senate, respectively, the double standards that have long favored men are beginning to fade. A 2009 study presented participants in two groups with descriptions of politicians who were identical in every way except for their first names: Congressman Kevin and Congresswoman Karen. Their impressions of the two Representatives were near-equal in terms of competence, empathy, and ability to handle an international crisis. Both were held in lower esteem if they were described as crying or raging publicly. Yet when neither candidate had previously held public office, it was Karen who got a bump; “voters” perceived her to be “stronger, more honest, and more compassionate.” Though a majority of female Senators and Congresswomen are Democrats, the Republican party is especially keen to fill their rosters with women for the midterm elections. “It’s no secret our party needs to make progress with women voters,” says RNC chief of staff Mike Shields, “and for that, we need more women leaders.”
Studies show that women are now coveted candidates.