What is keeping women out of office?

By: Christina Burgess

In today’s society it’s pretty safe to say that citizens are willing to vote for women; when they’re running for office. Women make up 20% of Congress, 25% of the House, 33% Supreme Court justices, and 21% Mayors. There are women that have strong campaigns and supporters, only women aren’t running for office! So, what’s the issue and why aren’t more women represented in political offices?

Other countries, such as Canada, have us beat when it comes to women holding the same positions in office as men. For example, in countries like France and Canada, if 11 men run for a position, 11 women also run. Studies have shown that “female representation also indicates a strong democracy.”

When women are leaders in government, more issues and polices that effect families and minorities are given the necessary attention they need. A study has also shown that leading women in government tend to “create legislation around issues of health, education, family care and social welfare.”

Recently, Sex and The City star, Cynthia Nixon appeared on the daytime talk show, The Wendy Williams Show. On the show, Nixon announced that she will be running for New York Governor against two-time incumbent, Andrew Cuomo. When asked what inspired her to run she said, “the election of Donald Trump was a real wake-up call.”

Many other Democratic candidates throughout the nation were also driven to run for the same reason. Ever since President Donald Trump was elected, a lot of women, especially from the Democratic Party, have become more active in politics. Donald Trump’s election also sparked an increase in women considering running for office.

An obstacle that women face when running for office is getting their names on the voting ballot at all. Many women considering a political leadership role face a lot of self doubt.  Unfortunately, there are women that study politics and desire to have a successful future in the field; but don’t jump into it. Failure to actually start developing a serious campaign or career in politics is where women fail. In the workplace, women tend to receive fewer raises and rewards, which results to them lacking confidence or believing they might not be good enough.

We still also have to take into account that women have lots of roadblocks in the way keeping them from being as successful as their male counterparts. Things like; race, religion, public perception, little support and lack of funding. Women aren’t encouraged to run for office as much as men are. Some believe that a woman can’t do what they believe is a ‘man’s job’. Researchers have found that “men are 65% more likely than women with similar experience to view themselves as qualified to run for office.”

It’s very evident that the U.S. government holds some kind of gender bias in favor of men. Even though the odds are stacked up against women, there’s hope that women can become equally successful as men when it comes to holding positions in office.

How can we begin to fix this problem?

1. Support women who want to run

Tell them that running can become a reality. People often need an extra push in the right direction. Try joining their campaign committee, making flyers, or making social media accounts in support of them.

2. Get their names on the ballot and keep them there

Now that you’ve got these women front and center, keep them there. Go out and VOTE. Get registered to vote in your local district or state. They need your vote in order to remain where they are and start rising up the ladder.

3. “Anything you can do I can do better”

In today’s terms, “anything men can do women can do 10x better.” Break the stigma that men are better candidates than women in office. Women can do the same job as their male counterparts in office and do it better. In the 2016 election, a big debate on why Hillary Clinton could not be a suitable candidate was because of her gender. While speaking to the students of Rutgers University, Clinton said, “it’s about time that women were allowed to be themselves the way men are allowed to be themselves.”

It’s time for a change.

4. You voting will promote female involvement (state & nationwide)

When Hillary Clinton ran in the 2016 election it inspired more women to go out and vote and even run for positions locally. At Rutgers, Clinton stressed the importance of voting, “it’s not easy because most people don’t vote and most people don’t show up and most people don’t see it as the powerful tool that it is.”

A lot of times we take this power for granted being that years ago, women weren’t even allowed to vote.

All in all, we have complete power over the future for women leading our nation. We can help women let their voices be heard. So let’s try to change the norm of things when it comes to women running for local, state and national governments. Our next leader could be you.