I am always annoyed by the implication that sexism is no longer a threat to women's equality. Just because Women's Lib reached it's peak in the '70s, businesswomen entered the boardroom (shoulder pads and all) in the '80s, and "Girl Power!" gained popularity in the '90s, it does not mean that modern women are free from the misogyny that plagued generations before us! The Spice Girls don't make for a revolution, God Damn It. Millennia of oppression can't exactly be undone with 30+ years of progressive activism! Shit, most people my age (late 20's) still can't self-identify as feminists without explaining that they Do Shave, they Are Straight, and they Want To Have Children. As if "feminist" was synonymous with "hairy, ugly, barren lesbian". At this point in human history, those of us willing to let go of cultural norms and traditional gender roles have realized that not all women are the Mommy-type, a penis does not automatically make a person superior, and just about the only skill that men possess but women do not is the ability to write their names in the snow.
That being said, studies and reports that aim to decode the reasons behind our current social shortcomings had better come up with something better than our lack of ambition, our biological inadequacies, or our Mother-ing instinct because (in case the researchers didn't notice) women are allowed to be literate these days. The study that lit my fuse on the subject is discussed HERE
and is supposed to shine some light on the subject of women & political representation. According to Richard L. Fox of Loyola Marymount University and Jennifer L. Lawless of Brown University, the fundamental reason that women are under-represented in American political institutions is because (*drum roll, please*) women don't run for office since they lack the political ambition that men have!
This cop-out conclusion is just about disproved by the "factors" they attribute the gender gap in "ambition" to! According to the study, women have less political ambition because of the following five factors (my commentary is confined to the parentheses):
1. Women are less likely to be willing to endure the rigors of a political campaign. ("rigors" of political campaigning? Like what? Surviving slanderous attacks? Being constantly on display & subject to the opinions of the public? Sounds like A Day In The Life, to me)
2. Women are less likely than men to be recruited to run for office. (I'm unsure how this effects "ambition". This factor suggests to me that women are blocked from political positions because of sexism within the political parties. Right?)
3. Women are less likely than men to have the freedom to reconcile work and family obligations with a political career. (Once again, how is this "ambition" and not circumstance related to gender roles?)
4. Women are less likely than men to think they are "qualified" to run for office. (Here is an adequate reason for why women might lack political ambition! But it also suggests that women internalize the message that they are inferior, which would be a product of society's sexism)
5. Women are less likely than men to perceive a fair political environment. (See 2. Gee, I wonder why they would perceive things that way?)
Anyhow, the definition of the word "ambition" is 'an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power' & (aside from 4) none of these factors would necessarily effect the Desire to hold political office, as much as it would impact the belief that such a feat was possible.