Kaitlin Sidorsky, Ph.D.


Coastal Carolina University

Country: United States (South Carolina)

About Me:

I am an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Coastal Carolina University. My research involves the role that gender plays in political ambition, recruitment, and motivations for public service among appointed and elected state officials. My dissertation entitled, "One Way or Another? Understanding Women's Paths to Appointed and Elected Office" explores the different pathways and ambitions of the men and women who have taken the appointed route to public office in comparison to the electoral route. My secondary research area involves inequality of justice for victims of domestic violence at the state and local level. This work reveals that studying women's personal safety is just as important to understanding equality as is studying women's equal access to commonly researched areas of health care, representation, and economic opportunity. 

Research Interests

Gender and Politics

State and Local Politics

Public Policy

Public Administration


Political Ambition

Political Recruitment

Domestic Violence

Political Appointments

Countries of Interest

United States


Journal Articles:

(2015) Sidorsky, Kaitlin. "Moving on Up? The Gendered Ambitions of State-Level Appointed Officials, Political Research Quarterly

Many scholars have offered explanations as to why women are underrepresented at all levels of government. Conventional wisdom states that fewer women are in public office due to lower ambition, and that the presence of gendered perceptions among women considering elected office contributes to women’s disinterest in the political arena. Using original survey data, this article expands the theory of gendered perceptions to current state-level appointed officeholders to explain their levels of interest in pursuing higher public office. The results indicate that gendered perceptions affect the progressive ambitions of appointees; like studies of ambition in elected officials, this study of appointed officials finds that women are generally less ambitious, and unlike studies of ambition in elected officials, this study of appointed officials finds that women with higher self-assessments are less ambitious rather than more.

Books Written:

(2019) All Roads Lead to Power: The Appointed and Elected Paths to Public Office for US Women, University Press of Kansas

Speaking of cabinet appointments he’d made as governor, presidential candidate Mitt Romney famously spoke of having “whole binders full of women” to consider. The line was much mocked; and yet, Kaitlin Sidorsky suggests, it raises a point long overlooked in discussions of the gender gap in politics: many more women are appointed, rather than elected, to political office. Analyzing an original survey of political appointments at all levels of state government, All Roads Lead to Power offers an expanded, more nuanced view of women in politics. This book also questions the manner in which political ambition, particularly among women, is typically studied and understood. In a deep comparative analysis of appointed and elected state positions, All Roads Lead to Power highlights how the differences between being appointed or elected explain why so many more women serve in appointed offices. These women, Sidorsky finds, are not always victims of a much-cited lack of self-confidence or ambition, or of a biased political sphere. More often, they make a conscious decision to enter politics through what they believe is a far less partisan and negative entry point. Furthermore, Sidorsky’s research reveals that many women end up in political appointments—at all levels—not because they are ambitious to hold public office, but because the work connects with their personal lives or careers. With its groundbreaking research and insights into the ambitions, recruitment, and motivations of appointed officials, Sidorsky’s work broadens our conception of political representation and alters our understanding of how and why women pursue and achieve political power.