The following was an intriguing quote I saw from the Economist a few weeks back
Might the politics of women change if more women were in politics? Even now, fewer than two out of ten members of Congress are female. For this, women have only themselves to blame. Plenty of research shows that women who stand for election do just as well as their male counterparts: they raise as much money, scoop up as many votes and are no less likely to win. The problem, according to a recent study and survey by Jennifer Lawless of American University and Richard Fox of Loyola Marymount University, is that so few choose to run. Even though a record number are running for the Senate, women are competing in fewer than a third of congressional races this year.
(emphasis added. Full article here http://www.economist.com/node/21552230)
This intrigues me. So lets open the question up. Why don't more women run for office in the US if they will do no worse? And why do we believe that there is a glass ceiling if the evidence does not support it?
I can't speak for the US, but if it's anything like Australia, it may be because the media and opposition spends more time talking about your hair colour and whether you're married, then the merits and faults of your policies.
That's the feminist downside of having Gillard as P.M. - not judging her fairly on policy and conduct, and instead, on her appearances. On the other hand, within party sexism makes for a bit of an issue as well. Gillard gets scathed because she out-menned the men in getting the job from Rudd. But as a long time member of the women's group in the ALP (I think it's called Emily's list) she'd be familiar with the idea that she had to do that....Emily's list exists to increase female candidature in the ALP.
So there may actually be lots more women attempting to run as candidates but getting knocked back by the boy's club inside the party itself. That fits the definition of a glass ceiling.