Ambitious Women: Hidden within the Party?


The underrepresentation of women can be partly attributed to political parties: when selecting candidates, parties recruit fewer women than men. A common justification is that there are not enough ambitious women in the party. In this article, we test this claim by answering (i) whether women express less political ambition than men; (ii) whether this has changed over time; and (iii) whether and how internal political efficacy influences political ambition. Based on three survey waves among Dutch party members, we conclude that women are to the same extent as men attracted by a political function when becoming a party member. Moreover, there has been no change in political ambition over time. Lastly, we find that internal political efficacy mediates the effect of gender on political ambition. This article thus shows that there is only a small gender gap in ambition and that there are ambitious women in Dutch political parties.

Politics of the Low Countries