Kira Sanbonmatsu

Professor of Political Science; Senior Scholar, Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University-New Brunswick

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About Kira

Sanbonmatsu's research interests include gender, race/ethnicity, parties, public opinion, state politics, and campaign finance. Her most recent book, coauthored with Kelly Dittmar and Susan J. Carroll, is A Seat at the Table: Congresswomen's Perspectives on Why Their Presence Matters (Oxford University Press, 2018). Sanbonmatsu is the coauthor of multiple CAWP reports including Money Matters in the Fifty States (2021).


The Quest for Women's Votes in Election 2012

In the News

Quoted by Peter Overby in "There's a $500,000 Gender Gap When it Comes to Campaign Fundraising," NPR, September 26, 2018.
Quoted by Shannon Clash in "An Office of Her Own: Female Lawmakers Defy Hurdles in Quest to Govern," NBC, April 2, 2016.


"The Money Hurdle in the Race for Governor: A Women, Money and Politics Report," (with Kathleen Rogers and Claire Gothreau), Center for American Women and Politics, 2020.

Examines individual contributions to gubernatorial candidates in order to better understand women’s candidacies as well as women’s donation patterns. Discusses most popular attention to gender and political behavior and how it is devoted to the gender gap in voting.

"A Seat at the Table" (with Kelly Dittmar and Susan J. Carroll) (Oxford University Press, 2018).

Includes unprecedented insights from over three-quarters of the women serving in the 114th Congress. Examines the interactions of gender with race/ethnicity, party, geography, and other factors shaping legislative behavior. Makes a strong case for why women's representation matters in Congress and, more generally, in American politics.

"More Women Can Run: Gender and Pathways to the State Legislatures" (with Susan J. Carroll) (Oxford University Press, 2013, paperback 2013).
Analyzes nationwide surveys of state legislators conducted by the Center for American Women and Politics to challenge assumptions of a single model of candidate emergence with a relationally embedded model of candidacy. It reorients research on women's election to office and offers strategies for political practitioners concerned about women's political equality.
"Campaign Trainings for Women of Color: The Ready to RunTM Diversity Initiative," Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference, March 31, 2012.
Presents a case study of a unique campaign training program designed to elect more women of color to office.
"Life’s a Party: Do Political Parties Help or Hinder Women" Harvard International Review 32, no. 1 (2010): 36-39.
Reviews women’s involvement in the Democratic and Republican parties and the effect of parties on women’s election to office.
"Poised to Run: Women’s Pathways to the State Legislatures," (with Susan J. Carroll and Debbie Walsh), Center for American Women and Politics, April 30, 2009.

Compares the pathways that women and men take to the legislatures. Among its findings, the report argues that more women can run because the pool of women eligible to hold state legislative office is larger than is commonly believed. The report also shows that women state legislators were more likely than men to have been recruited, suggesting that women do not need to have longstanding political ambition before becoming candidates and winning election.

"Do Gender Stereotypes Transcend Party?" (with Kathleen Dolan). Political Research Quarterly 62, no. 3 (2009): 485-494.
Finds that voters hold gender stereotypes about both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and that stereotypes seem to help Democratic women more than Republican women.
"Where Women Run: Gender and Party in the American States " (University of Michigan Press, 2006).
Identifies the important role that parties play in recruiting candidates for state legislatures and the disadvantages parties can pose for electing women to office.
"Democrats, Republicans, and the Politics of Women’s Place " (University of Michigan Press, 2002).
Analyzes public opinion on women’s rights and changes in the parties’ positions on gender issues since the late 1960s.