As I have said many times, I am a huge fan of “The West Wing.” That show is the first place I ever heard of Emily’s List as CJ Cregg – Alison Janney’s character – had worked with the group prior to working in Hollywood. Emily’s List is all about getting pro-choice Democratic women elected to office. You can read their mission on their web site.
Today I was reading an op-ed piece in The Boston Globe. The authors of the piece hold that a “critical mass” of females in politics would help greatly influence discussions on public policy. That “critical mass” is rather high, 30%, especially if you live in Massachusetts as there have only ever been five women elected to statewide offices.
Two summers ago, during the 2008 presidential primary season, I was reading an article in More magazine. While I cannot find the article online, I can summarize it. It talked about why all the power brokers in politics were men – because they contribute to political campaigns. Women do not. Not only do we not support fellow females who are running – and I do not advocate supporting someone just because that candidate is female, we do not support any campaigns. This means that in an arena where cash is king and contributions buy you power or at least a bit of an ear with someone in a campaign, women are falling behind.
Unfortunately, the truth is that when women fall behind so do the issues women care about – women’s health care issues, education, family issues, and equal pay for equal work. These issues are not exclusively female or woman issues. Everyone should care about each other’s health. Everyone should care about education and its escalating costs. Everyone should care about family issues – from sick leave to be with ill children to paid parental leave. Everyone should care about equal pay for equal work as we all benefit from equality, don’t we?
Should politics interest you, I suggest a few pieces for reading along with the links in the beginning of this post.
7 thoughts on “Women in Politics”
So interesting, Nicki. I wonder if the outpouring of grass-roots support in the 2008 presidential campaign might change this equation a bit. I have no statistics to back up my suspicion, but anecdotal evidence suggested that non-traditional groups (women included) were becoming increasingly involved as campaign donors.
Kristen – It is possible the contribution information will change but I doubt that the power wielded will as it is the big contributors that get the ear of the candidate or his campaign manager.
Awesome post, Nicki. And you’re right, our country has an abysmal record on “women’s” issues, which are really family issues and human issues and life quality issues.
It annoys me, Linda, that certain issues are called “women’s” issues. Truthfully, these issues will not affect just women. Maybe lawmakers should remember the saying “if mama ain’t happy, no one’s happy.”
If I had to warrant a guess as to why women aren’t contributing to campaigns as are the men, it’s because we don’t have the deep pockets, and we do bear the larger burdens of day-to-day survival. Raising the kids. Just keeping it together.
You are probably 100% on why women do not contribute as frequently as their male counterparts.
Putting more women in office is a passionate focus in my day job.
I really commend you for broaching this subject here. Politics really pervades every part of our life and while more and more women are participating, not many consider running for office. With organizations like Emerge America, The White House Project and EMILY’s List, the landscape is slowly changing.
Speaking of EMILY’s List, they just hired a young woman as their new president. She ran Howard Dean’s online campaign and Al Franken’s race and so many are hopeful that she’ll revitalize the org. and be very effective in not only promoting female candidates but with her as their leader, more of them will be encouraged to run and win.