Is Hillary 2016 all about electing a woman?

Story highlights

  • Jennifer Lawless: There's a strong temptation to view Hillary Clinton's candidacy as all about cracking the glass ceiling for women
  • She says the reality is that most people will vote not on gender but on the economy and partisanship

Jennifer L. Lawless is professor of government at American University, where she is also the director of the Women & Politics Institute. She is the lead author of "Running from Office: Why Young Americans Are Turned Off to Politics" (Oxford University Press 2015) and "It Still Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don't Run for Office" (Cambridge University Press 2010). The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

(CNN)Hillary Clinton finally answered the question we've all been asking for years: Will she run for president in 2016? With official news of her candidacy just hours old, one thing is already crystal clear: For the next year and a half, Clinton will be the barometer by which we assess gender equality in the United States. Win or lose, this creates a burden for her that no male candidate will ever have to shoulder.

Just consider the two potential outcomes.
A win would mean a woman in the White House, which is a vital step in the march toward women's full political inclusion. But it's possible that the march will end right there. We'll break our arms patting ourselves on the back for how far we've come. We'll raise the "Mission Accomplished" banner over the women's movement. And we'll call it a day.
    Jennifer Lawless