The Political Job Where Women Are Actually Overrepresented

July 15, 2019 AT 8:05 AM

Though women racked up electoral gains in 2018, they are still underrepresented in politics at all levels. As of 2019, at the state level there are only nine female governors and 15 lieutenant governors, and less than 30% of legislative seats are held by women. In other political jobs,  women make up 24% of Congress and hold 20% of mayoral positions in large cities.

But in one position, women are disproportionately overrepresented, and startling so: across the country, there is no state where fewer than 50% of county clerk positions are held by women. In some places, women have a near monopoly, such as Arkansas, where in 2016, 91% of county clerks were women.

A new study, published in State and Local Government Review by Brianne Heidbreder and Ethan Bernick of Kansas State University, explores the reasons why women might be so overrepresented in this one particular job. Heibreder said she was originally drawn to the topic because county governments are often overlooked in academic research. “A lot of people think of state government in an abstract way, and they don’t investigate the day-to-day operations of politics. States rely on their counties to implement policies and serve their constituents,” she said. “So it’s important to look at the people who hold offices in that level of government.”

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