By Barbara Burrell
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Additional info for A Woman's Place Is in the House: Campaigning for Congress in the Feminist Era
Further, stereotypes that played to women's advantage in 1992 could have a backlash in future elections. They place both an opportunity and a burden on the women who got elected. Women will have a disproportionate responsibility to achieve change in a system that does not easily produce change. Women in leadership positions will be looked to as agents of change. They may be evaluated on the extent to which change is achieved. This review of voters' images of women as politicians has shown that the stereotypes that once haunted women who sought to be political leaders have not faded away, but rather that voters have come to value those qualities more in their politicians and that women can capitalize on their experiences and perspectives to gain greater representation in positions of power.
These factors are prior to campaign experiences in determining electoral outcomes. A third factor must also be taken into account in assessing the presence of women as candidates for national office in the contemporary era-opportunity. Efforts to increase women's candidacies have collided with limited political opportunities in recent elections. The political opportunity structure conditions the viability of campaigns for public office. At the same time as the public became more supportive of the idea of women in political life, the competitiveness of seats for the House declined.
In a majority of the election cycles voters have had the opportunity to vote for a woman as their party's nominee (if they so desired) in less than one quarter of the races in any year (combining Democratic and Republican contests). At the same time, female candidates' presence did increase substantially in the second half of this era. 16) between 1968 and 1978, she appeared in an average of one in three races between 1980 and 1990. Also, Democratic women tended to surpass their Republican counterparts in the number of their candidacies.