This weekend took a comedic turn when cast member, Cecily Strong, of Saturday Night Live hosted the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. Some audience members interpreted one comment as humorous, but others thought it was controversial.
“I want all the media to put their hands up and swear something this election season,” Strong said. “I solemnly swear not to talk about Hillary’s appearance because that is not journalism.”
Women in politics have had the misfortune of being stereotyped and judged more on their looks and personality than that of their male counterparts.
In the 2008 presidential elections, Hillary Clinton was on the receiving end of many sexist remarks during her campaign. One such remark was made by political news correspondent, Tucker Carlson on MSNBC who stated, “When she comes on television, I involuntary cross my legs.”
Other journalists and media outlets frowned upon these comments however, there were many more individuals who made sexists remarks about Clinton and other politicians.
This is not the only issue that is raised with in this statement. Hillary Clinton is a woman who is running and previously ran for President of the United States. There are many women who are currently filling in roles for major U.S. political seats and are paving the way for future females to take over leadership positions in politics and businesses.
Last year, Girl Scouts launched a campaign with the hashtag #banbossy which they used to encourage individuals to quit telling young girls they are “bossy” because it is one of reasons that girls are unable to be confident and do jobs that are what boys should do.
Carol Dedrich, Chief External Relations Officer of Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles stated, “The Ban Bossy campaign is about raising awareness around a descriptive word used disproportionately to demean girls and women. We believe girls who exhibit assertiveness should be seen as acting like leaders, not acting bossy.”
The issue of inequality between men and women in the workplace range far beyond politics but even in everyday businesses and research facilities. Vrinda Agarwal, a student at University of California, Berkeley was a Girl Scout throughout her adolescence and held many positions within Girl Scouts, helping her to develop courage, confidence and character to pursue her dreams in various fields, including standing up for women and gender equality.
“Women are very underrepresented in hard science fields, like engineering and physics. I hope that young girls, particularly women of color, are encouraged to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, rather than discouraged.” Agarwal said. “The statistics show that up until age 11 or 12, girls are interested in STEM fields. However, between the ages of 13 and 18, many women are discouraged to enter STEM or do not see other female role models in STEM to aspire to.”
Education for women
According to the Center for American Progress women make up 50.8 percent of the United States population, 47 percent of the U.S. labor force and 59 percent of the college-educated, entry-level workforce. 60 percent of women earn their undergraduate and master’s degree.
“We can see it in public education, where women have lower graduation rates in poor areas; or in Corporate America, where women earn less than men; and even in politics, in which women are significantly underrepresented.” Agarwal said.
With education comes responsibility and can help grow a passion in females to pursue and develop their own viewpoints to provide to society.
“When women become legislators, they are far more involved in the formation and advocacy of gender-based issues, including women’s health, reproductive rights, child care and wage equality. They are also more responsive to their constituents.” Agarwal said.
The beginning for women in politics
“I now announce myself as a candidate for the presidency. I anticipate criticism, but, however unfavorable, I trust that my sincerity will not be called into question,” Victoria Woodhull said in 1872. Woodhull was the first woman to run for president and did so prior to women’s suffrage in 1920.
She did not make it far, but this was the gateway for females in politics. Between Woodhull and Clinton there have been 44 women who have run for president but only two women have obtained he nominations for the major parties. Both Geraldine Ferraro for the Democratic Party in 1984 and Sarah Palin for the Republican Party in the 2008 election were vice-presidential candidates.
Facts about women in politics
In 1992 there were 24 women who were elected, making it the first largest slot for women to be elected in the same year.
According to the Center for American Progress, 2012 was considered a watershed election year for women in American politics. This was the second largest growth rate for women in politics with 19 women being elected.
Republican Scott Brown lost to two different women in U.S. Senate history. He lost to Jeanne Shaheen in 2014 and Elizabeth Warren in 2012.
California female representation
California has two female U.S. Senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. California is the first state to be represented simultaneously by two women in the Senate. This is a major step for local politics in the state and to show young women that it is possible to know and understand the truth that women are capable of going far in politics.
On local levels there are 1,392 female mayors in the U.S. cities out of 30,000 cities. In California there are 55 cities that have female mayors.
Glendora mayor, Judy M. Nelson is a woman who has faced much discrimination of being a female in politics. She is a small business owner who founded Mrs. Nelson’s bookstore in La Verne, Calif.
“In thinking about Glendora’s elected representatives, there are two women on our City Council, our State Senator is a woman, as are both of our Congressional and both of our US Senate representatives,” said Nelson. “Only our State Assemblyman and our LA County Supervisor are men.”
Today women in politics
“If you don’t represent women in politics in America as future president, who will?” Agarwal asked Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative University conference at Arizona State in March 2014.
Clinton responded that she is worried about the future of female equality, but did not announce or hint that she was running at that point. She announced her candidacy for the 2016 presidential run on Sunday, April 14 this year.
From various reports former Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina, may soon join Clinton as a female presidential candidate. Fiorina has stated that she will be making an important announcement on May 4th.
The most recent reports and studies conclude that inequality is clearly visible in America on the macro-level: modern America has ranked 84th in the world for women’s political representation, the average full-time working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, only 20 percent of the current U.S. Congress is composed of women and this is just the beginning of the statistics.
In a 2012 study from Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics there were only 19 positions held by women between the Republican and Democratic Party out of 100.
According to the U.S. Congressional Record women currently comprise 17 percent of U.S. Congress. Of the 244 Democrats in the House and Senate, 61 are women. Of the 289 Republicans, 29 are women.
As of January 2013, 99 out 535 members of Congress were female. According to Agarwal ever since the beginning of the Obama administration, there has been an increase in the number of female senators, an increase in the number of female Supreme Court justices, the appointment of the first black female Attorney General and the first female Chair of the Federal Reserve has been successfully appointed.
“All of these changes occurred under a progressive, democratic President, so I believe we would see even more political representation for women if Hillary were to win,” Agarwal said. “She already serves as strong inspiration for women across the nation, myself included, to run for office.”
The Obama administration has brought more women into politics than any other administration, and they have also brought the most diversity to the White House. The most recent example includes Loretta Lynch, who was sworn in as the first African American woman to be nominated and placed in the attorney general role of the United States.
“The bottom line is that when it comes to representing women in politics, descriptive representation matters,” Agarwal said. “It matters that we have men and women representing women, and it will continue to matter in our nation until we are ranked at the top of the list for women’s political representation, women earn equivalently to men in the workplace, at least half of congress is composed of women and legislators cease to make a mockery of violence against women.”
While women are still the minority gender in politics and in other fields they have the opportunity to make a difference.
In a study found by Pew Research women are 34 percent better at working out compromises and being honest and ethical than men are. Women are 26 percent better at working to improve U.S. quality of life than men and are 25 percent better at standing up for their beliefs than men are. These statistics are just within politicians.
As the election for 2016 is coming closer only time will tell if the United States will have its first female president. With the nominations still out on the horizon people are still waiting to hear of more presidential announcements.