Gender, Race and Political Ambition: The Case of Ontario School Board Elections Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • AbstractThe political underrepresentation of women and racial minorities in Canadian politics is well documented. One political arena that has yet to be examined in this respect, however, is school boards. Using data from a candidate survey conducted during the course of the 2018 Ontario school board elections, as well as demographic data collected on the entire population of school board candidates, we explore the unique characteristics of school board elections. The research note begins by describing the gender and racial composition of candidates and trustees in Canada's most populous province. It then considers the ways in which school board elections may serve as a launchpad to higher office for either of these two traditionally underrepresented groups, as we explore the features of progressive political ambition, recruitment into school board campaigns and the relative electoral success of racialized candidates and women in this local office. While women do very well in school board elections, they are significantly less likely than their male counterparts to have the desire to move up to provincial or federal politics. Meanwhile, racialized candidates contest school board election in significant numbers and report similar levels of progressive ambition relative to their white counterparts, but they fare exceptionally poorly in school board elections.

publication date

  • June 2020