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American Sociological Association Elections, 1975 to 1996: Exploring Explanations for ‘Feminization’


Rosenfeld, Rachel A.; Cunningham, David; & Schmidt, Kathryn (1997). American Sociological Association Elections, 1975 to 1996: Exploring Explanations for 'Feminization'. American Sociological Review, 62(5), 746-59.


Since 1972, the proportion of women in American Sociological Association governance positions has increased. Woman candidates for ASA offices and the ASA Council have been overrepresented and generally have had higher odds of winning than male candidates. We examine three possible factors behind these trends: the general impact of the women's movement, the influence of Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS), and elite dilution. Liberal attitudes fostered by the women's movement appear to have raised voter willingness to select woman candidates. SWS members were overrepresented among candidates, and SWS membership (for women) and support for its goals increased chances of being elected. High voting rates of SWS members could have swayed elections, as well. Contrary to elite dilution arguments, woman and man candidates differed little from each other or over time in productivity, honors, or experience, although women were elected earlier in their careers than were men and were less often employed in the most prestigious graduate departments. In analysis using measures of all three factors together, gender affected election success, with marginal effects for productivity; effects of SWS membership and professional location were not statistically significant.


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Journal Article

Journal Title

American Sociological Review


Rosenfeld, Rachel A.
Cunningham, David
Schmidt, Kathryn

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