RGM Blog 7 – Women in Politics

One large problem regarding gender inequality today is the shortage of women in politics. Many say that if women want to be in politics and are qualified enough, they will get there, but what they overlook is that there are many prevailing attitudes and damaging stereotypes that can make the road to public office much harder for females.

Although women make up a little over half of our total population, their representaion is not even close to being where it should be. “Not only has the United States never had a female president, women still make up far less than half of Congress. This year, women hold 98 of 535 seats in Congress. That’s just 18%.” More information on these facts and statistics can be found here.

In addition, even though we consider ourselves to be one of the most developed and advanced countries in the world, this is an area where we lag behind considerably. “The United States [ranks] 78th worldwide in female political representation.” Many much less developed countries come before us when it comes to perentage of women in office, including Rwanda, Cambodia, and Costa Rica. More information on these rankings and greater insight into this problem can be found in the article linked here.

I believe there are many factors that discourage women from running and also make their path to victory much more difficult than their male counterparts. Long held attitudes, many stemming from religious traditions, of women being subservient and possesing less leadership skills have contributed to how we view women in society and in their occupations. Many also feel that women are simply too soft and emotional to handle the stress and pressure of public office, especially that of the president.

Unfortunately, our society tends to reinforce these ideas, even when presented with a qualified and mature candidate like Hillary Clinton. The cultural feedback loops created by misogyny and the objectification of women as well a variety of other factors are a huge contributor, in my opinion, to this problem of political underrepresentation. The first step to changing our society is changing our attitudes. I hope with time that once we experience a women in the White House, it will open the door for greater numbers of women in office as well as greater acceptance.

 

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