Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education

Major

Political Science

Date of Defense

4-23-2012

Graduate Advisor

Farida Jalalzai, Ph.D.

Committee

Carole Murphy

Brady Baybeck, Ph.D.

Christina Wolbrecht, Ph.D

Abstract

Encouraging young women to pursue careers in electoral politics is seen as one strategy for ameliorating the gender disparity that has characterized American political institutions for decades. This multi-method project focuses on outcomes obtained by participants in four "NEW Leadership™" Training Institutes that claim to "educate and empower the next generation of women leaders." Using original survey data from 2011, participant observations, and interviews with program alumnae, I explore the relationship between program participation and political interest and efficacy. The findings suggest that graduates of the NEW Leadership™ program report increased knowledge of women in politics and methods for participating in politics. They express greater confidence in speaking to elected officials, and are more likely to contact an elected official to voice their opinion on an issue. They are more confident in their ability to affect change related to issues that matter to them. Most importantly, they leave the program more likely to run for public office.

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