June 19, 2013
The Gender Gap in Congress
Posted on Nov 21, 2012
There’s no doubt women have come a long way in politics in the 20 years since the first “Year of the Woman” in 1993, when four females were elected to the U.S. Senate. Come January, a record number of women will occupy seats in Congress—including 20 female Senators.
A week after the election EMILY’s List, the political group dedicated to electing pro-choice female lawmakers, held a news conference recapping the results. “Can I just start by saying, we won!” Stephanie Schriock, the group’s president, said. “And we won across the board. It was a historic night.”
As much progress has been made, however, women will still make up just 19 percent of the new Congress. That’s a huge disparity when you consider that according to the latest U.S. census, more than half of the American population (50.7 percent) is female.
“Is that really enough to cheer about?” writes Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones. “Most of us would say yes, of course. But it does raise some fair questions about why we aren’t anywhere near parity yet. We still lag far behind the nations with the most parity—like Rwanda (whose legislature is 56.3 percent female), Andorra (53.6 percent female), and Sweden (45 percent female).”
So why the lag? According to research, a major reason is because men have more inclination to run for political office than women. More from Mother Jones:
The research shows that there are other reasons, however, that women decide not to enter the political arena.
So what can be done to get more women like 2012 election winners Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, Heidi Heitkamp, Tammy Duckworth and Deb Fischer to seek office? Siobhan Bennett, the president of the Women’s Campaign Fund, has one solution.
“The most important thing is encouraging talented women to run, and helping them when they do,” said Bennett. “That single thing changes everything.”
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.
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