Barriers, Breakthroughs, and Backbone of Rural Elected Women

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Barriers, Breakthroughs, and Backbone of Rural Elected Women

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Women are underrepresented in elected positions across all levels of government, especially in rural Minnesota. 100 Rural Women is a nonprofit organization focused on facilitating leadership opportunities for rural women. Its mission is important because rural women not only experience a lack of parity, but they also deal with less access to services, infrastructure and paid employment opportunities (Pozarny, 2016). In order to assist 100 Rural Women in their focus, we facilitated 19 interviews with rural women in elected office across the state in order to understand the motivators, barriers, and supports needed to assist rural women in their pathways to elected office. We found many women face barriers such as sexism, not knowing the basics of how to run a campaign, and difficulty balancing their various responsibilities. The interviewees reported that the most meaningful supports were informal, such as their friends, family, and other elected officials that provided mentorship and insight throughout their campaign and time in office. Through our interviews, we found that all interviewees are interested in participating in a mentorship network to support other elected women and to encourage more women to run for office. These findings suggest that a support network based on providing meaningful connection, as well as training on the barriers encountered would be an important tool for getting more rural women into leadership positions.


Capstone paper for the fulfillment of the Master of Public Affairs degree.

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Larmi, Naa Korkoi; Stekr, Delaney; Walker, Caitlyn. (2022). Barriers, Breakthroughs, and Backbone of Rural Elected Women. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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