American politics is lacking in female representation. That isn’t new information. When we look at countries, like New Zealand, (my favorite) with female leadership, somewhat thriving right now, it makes you wonder, why aren’t more women involved in American politics. Furthermore, where are all the women of color in politics? As we think about ways to improve the country and government, we first need to think about what’s missing from it. As always, there will be resources and articles available for you below.
statistics. Statistics can be so powerful in proving a point, especially for skeptics. Here are some of the numbers that stuck out to me:
- Only 3 countries have a female majority government, Rwanda holding #1 of female involvement in the government
- In 2019, the US ranked 75th in women’s representation in government
- In 2019, the US House of Representatives, women were 24% of the total seats
- Here is a comprehensive list of these statistics.
behind the scenes. This was something that I didn’t know too much about before this post. We all know that there has never been a female president or vice president, but what we don’t often think about is the fact that there has never been a female white house chief of staff. That is, with the notable exception of tv shows such as West Wing. Women aren’t just missing from the big names of politics, but they are also missing from campaigns, white house staff, etc. It’s just crazy that we have to resort to imaginary white houses to see women involved in the behind the scenes of politics.
what about women of color? If finding a woman in politics was hard, wait until you try to find all of the women of color. Since 1964, a little more than 70 women of color have been elected to congress. To state that in other words, in the last 50+ years, a total of 70+ women of color have been elected to congress. When you think about the fact that there are 535 members of congress, that numbers aren’t too pretty. The first woman of color elected to the House was Patsy Mink, an Asian American from Hawaii, in the 1960s. Carol Moseley Braun was the first woman of color in the Senate, elected in the 1990s. There are some more links below if you are curious, but the main point is that if we are recognizing all women in politics, we have to pay special attention to the history of women of color too. (here’s my post on intersectionality)
2018 elections. The 2018 House of Representative Election was impactful for a lot of people, especially me. A new wave of women, specifically women of color were elected to Congress. This was around the time that I was a vehement feminist and started to get interested in politics. Seeing women like Rep. Ocasio- Cortez and Rep. Omar made me excited and even more passionate. This just further shows the inspiring impact of having a more diverse government, that truly represents and is reflective of the people. Here is an article going more in-depth into the 2018 election and its impact.
what’s the impact of more women in politics? When more women are in leadership positions and can guide the country, the direction of the nation becomes more akin to the people’s ideas of what that direction is. Similarly, a diverse congress is more efficient in representing a diverse country. How is a bunch of old white men supposed to know what a country with diverse racial makeup wants?
why is this happening? This NPR article is very helpful in answering this question. The root of the problem comes from everyday sexism and the effects of that on women. People don’t think that women have what it takes to be effective politicians or run a campaign. Even as more and more women join the workforce, they are still expected to do the majority of housework and child care, in comparison to their male counterparts. And this narrative that gets told implants itself into potential female candidates that feel that they aren’t as qualified to govern will lose because of gender bias. However, as the 2018 election (and maybe even the 2016 election) showed, women have a place in politics, and things go south when they aren’t more involved.
There is a lot going on in the world right now. Although female politicians can’t save the world, part of the problem with the current state of things is the lacking government action and racist leadership. Please stay aware of what is happening and what you can do to help. And if you are eligible or registered, please vote.
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