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Do strong and active political parties enhance women's representation, or do they contribute to the ongoing inequality in men's and women's candidacy rates? Studies have examined this question by looking at a variety of measures of party strength, focusing particularly on the role parties play in candidate emergence. For qualified individuals in the pool of potential candidates, being encouraged to run for office by a political actor is the most important step in considering a candidacy (Lawless and Fox 2005). Such encouragement is especially important in increasing the typically lower political ambition among women in the candidate pool (Fox and Lawless 2010). Yet the limited research examining the effects of party recruitment on men's and women's candidacies finds negative (Niven 1998; 2006) or no (Sanbonmatsu 2006) effects of recruitment on women's representation. Some studies even find evidence that parties more often run female than male candidates as “sacrificial lambs” in unwinnable races (Carroll 1994; Stambough and O'Regan 2007).
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