‘It Can’t Be Worse’: How Republican Women Are Trying to Rebuild

Maria Vismale, 29, who wants to run for office in Henrico County, Va., said she thought many conservative women like her were hesitant to be leaders.

“We take a more submissive approach, and we have a tendency to be afraid to ask and assert ourselves, to be seen as blunt or controversial,” she said.

But younger conservatives may be breaking from that view, both because of changing norms and because of the example that Democrats have set.

“We’ve always been the leaders of the family, of the church, of our local book club as conservative women, but it just hasn’t been on a national or federal scale,” Ms. Vismale said. But in politics, she added, “We’ve been letting men take the lead, and we can’t do that.”

Historically, those who do run have found little support from the national party. It isn’t just that the national Republican leadership doesn’t operate in primaries, where more than half of the Republican women who ran last year lost. There is also a sense among some Republican women that party leaders don’t value them.

“We are so welcomed in the background to help volunteer, to help spread information, but when it comes time for a woman to really step up into the spotlight, I almost feel like it’s crickets,” Elana Doyle, 26, said. “I admire that about the Democrats, how they embrace women and they put them on a pedestal and they say, ‘We need you.’”

Ms. Doyle said she was upset not only by the lack of Republican women in politics, but by the lack of Republican mothers. She plans to run for the Massachusetts Legislature in a few years, when her children — a 3-year-old girl and a 9-month-old boy — are older.

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