Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2016

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Political Science

First Advisor

Rice, Tom

First Committee Member

Dion, Douglas

Second Committee Member

Glanville, Jennifer

Third Committee Member

Lai, Brian

Fourth Committee Member

Osborn, Tracy


This dissertation examines whether men and women in rural local government differ on a number of demographic and attitudinal variables. Using survey data for city council members in rural Iowa, this dissertation used difference of means tests, cross-tabs and multiple regression modeling (OLS and logistic regression) to compare the responses of male and female town councilors. Scholarship on state legislatures and Congress often find that male and female legislators are different on a number of important demographic and attitudinal variables and many feminists argue that electing more women to office will change the way government institutions work. However, council members are very different from legislators at higher levels of government, and many of the theories developed using data from Congress and state legislators do not apply.

Male and female town councilors share many important characteristics and attitudes, with some important exceptions. Women and men in local government are different on many demographic characteristics, in their approach to the delegate-trustee dilemma and regarding the initial motivation to run for office. On occasions where council members disagree with their constituents on policy issues, women are more likely to be politicos than trustees. Female council members were less likely than male council members to run for office because they were interested in addressing a particular issue and more likely to say that they ran for office because they believed there was no good alternative. Several factors contribute to the differences between council members small town Iowa and other types of elected officials in the U.S: the nature of elections and office responsibilities at the local level, and conservative rural politics.


City Councils, Gender, Iowa, Local Government, Rural, Women


vii, 226 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 207-226).


Copyright 2016 Charlotte Lee Ridge