Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Leadership Studies


As our political history evolves, slowly but surely more and more women are running for public office. What are the things that propel women to run for local, state, or federal leadership positions? Are there certain factors that are contingent upon their embarkment into the political arena? The answers to these questions all contribute to the "creation," if you will, of a political woman. In order to better understand these factors and their effects, I will examine case studies of two women, Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Dole, through the lenses of four such factors including the timing as it relates to their lives and possible entry into politics, the national political climate, and each individual's leadership development. Lastly, I will examine the leadership behaviors and styles of these women in relation to leadership in the political context. Both Clinton and Dole are wives of politicians whose careers appear to be on the wane, and, recently, both women have been touted as possible Senate, vice-presidential, and even presidential nominees for the year 2000 elections. Is there a pattern that we can discern and uncover about a woman's decision to run for public office that we can then use as a template or model for women of a younger generation? Through the following case studies and analysis, I will attempt to answer this question.

Therefore a great deal of progress has been made for women poHtical leaders in a very short span of time. The United States is slowly but surely recognizing the importance of women holding public office. This is especially key where the issues of timing and political climate are concerned. Women can be brought up today feeling the same support, encouragement, and freedom of ambitions that Clinton and Dole grew up feeling. However, if the timing and climate are not favorable, more often than not these women will not consider running for public office. Depending on the socially accepted role for women at the time, as well as the number of opportunities that lay before them will greatly determine a woman's drive to run for office. All of these aspects of a political career are intertwined and interdependent. While Clinton and Dole were in many ways exceptions to the women of their respective generations, perhaps women will become so prolific in public office that such an accomplishment will no longer be considered a "surprising occurrence," but rather a respected and expected role for women of future generations to undertake during their lifetimes. The lives and achievements of these women are blueprints for the future of women in politics.