In this paper, I review existing political participation and civic engagement research as it pertains to women, young people, and ultimately, young women. At all levels of civic engagement, trends in participation by gender, though not necessarily dichotomous, provide insight for engagement opportunities. For example, men and women follow differing routes to political office – men more likely as an extension of their career in law or business whereas women are more likely to seek elected office after a motivating experience volunteering for an organization (Burns et al. 1997). At a younger age, women in college are more likely than their male counterparts to be interested in a career working for a not-for-profit community organization or foundation and they are less likely to be interested in a career working for government (Hart Research Associates 2008). These patterns of participation may be subtle but are nevertheless important for identifying opportunities for the recruitment of young women to political participation, including voting, contributing to and participating in campaigns, and running for elected office. By engaging young women, we can close gender gaps in participation and representation.
Finally, I examine recent survey data and patterns among young people to identify whether the best opportunity to engage young women is at the high school level. I find that, contrary to my initial hypothesis, participation actually decreases after high school. Thus efforts to engage young women civically and politically need to be strongest during the transition from high school to young adulthood in order to maintain the priority given to voluntarism and increase participation.
Holland, Kelly. Patterns of Civic Engagement and Political Participation among Young Women. 13 Dec. 2009. Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Master of Public Policy.
Professional paper for the fulfillment of the Master of Public Policy degree.
Patterns of Civic Engagement and Political Participation among Young Women.
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
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