It’s going to take more than Wendy Davis’s pink-shoed filibuster to entice more women into running for office. A New York Times report Friday highlights the lack of change in the number of female candidates and the decades-long struggle to correct this demographic difference.
The Times notes that some on the left have been clamoring that Davis’s ascent in the eyes of the media will inspire other women to consider jumping into politics. Grace Garcia, executive director of Annie’s List, a pro-abortion group whose objective is to get more liberal women into politics, told the Times that her organization had seen an uptick in queries from women who wanted to run for office but did not know where to begin.
If that group’s numbers have any impact on the statewide ones, the statistics do not seem to show it. The paper notes that only 21% of state legislators are women, and the numbers are dwindling. Given the lack of female candidates in many of the more competitive races across the state, the number seems unlikely to increase. The Texas House, however, seems to provide more opportunity for an uptick in the number of female candidates than the state Senate.
There are currently no female candidates, the paper reports, who are running against incumbent male candidates for Senate seats, nor has a woman signed up in the one open race for the Senate this year. That is not to say that women do not have power in the Texas legislature–and much more than the simple power to filibuster that Davis exercised to launch her gubernatorial campaign.
The Times notes that according to Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, despite the lower absolute number of women in the House, more women hold committee leadership roles. The spokesman also recognized that gender–as well as other identity factors like ethnicity and background–played a minor role in a larger holistic approach to promoting senators to chairmanships.
Davis has framed her campaign as one in which she aspires to represent all women like her who were single teen mothers and worked to get through school. One problem her campaign has had with promoting this message is the fact that it was discovered that Davis had not actually been a single teen mother at any point, and that her then-husband cashed in his 401(k) to pay for her tuition. Her response to The Dallas Morning News‘ report disclosing the falsehoods has not been to correct the falsehoods, telling supporters, “Damn right it’s a true story.”