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Who will be Hillary Clinton's running mate? Probably a man.

- August 10, 2015

Vice President Biden and former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton appear onstage at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington on April 2, 2013. (Cliff Owen/AP)
Assume for the moment that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. (It’s a pretty good bet.) This will be a significant moment, as she’ll be the first female presidential nominee of a major American political party. It could be even more significant if Clinton then chose a female running mate. However, that’s not likely to happen. Here’s why.
“There Can Be Only One (Woman on the Ticket)” is the title of new research by Valerie Hennings and R. Urbatsch in the journal Political Behavior. Hennings and Urbatsch find that choosing a woman for a prominent leadership position actually decreases the chance that a woman will be chosen for any associated leadership position.  Political parties tend to avoid all-female tickets — although, of course, all-male tickets are still very common.
What’s the evidence? Start with 568 different U.S. gubernatorial elections from 1988-2012. When the gubernatorial nominee was a man, about 39 percent of the nominees for lieutenant governor were women. When the gubernatorial nominee was a woman, only 12 percent of the nominees for lieutenant governor were women.
The same thing is true in state legislatures. When a party picks a woman as the leader of its legislative caucus, it is less likely to pick a woman as a deputy leader. (Or, if you want a shorthand at the federal level: You’re more likely to get Nancy Pelosi  and Steny Hoyer as leader and deputy than Nancy Pelosi and, say, Rosa DeLauro.)
The same thing is true across the world. Hennings and Urbatsch looked at 244 different cases of presidential and vice presidential candidates in countries where both are subject to election.  When a man was the presidential candidate, women made up 19 percent of the vice presidential candidates. When a woman was the presidential candidate, none of the vice presidential candidates was a woman.
Hillary Clinton has described electing a woman to the presidency as the “hardest, highest glass ceiling.” And she is right. Women continue to be vastly underrepresented in political office.
But even as women have begun to crack glass ceilings in politics, Hennings and Urbatsch show that, in their words, “the crack in the glass ceiling is not wide enough to allow more than a limited number of women through at once.”
For more on this topic, see:
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