No matter how many times I hear the statistics regarding how underrepresented women are in politics today in the U.S. they are always just as disappointing as they were the first time I heard them. Currently there are 83 nations that rank higher then the U.S. in women elected into office. There are 100 seats in the U.S. Senate and women hold only 17 of them. In the house, women fill 16.8% or 90 of those 535 seats. Of the 50 Governors that rule our nations states, only 6 are women. The numbers go on and on.
I remember an article I came across quite sometime ago on the University of Virginia News website, UVa Today, discussing women in politics that has stayed in my memory. According to the article the real problem in the lack of women in politics lies not in women who are running for office, but women who aren’t. Co-author of the book “It Takes a Candidate: Why Women don’t Run for Office” Jennifer Lawless has done extensive research on this subject.
In her book, Lawless discusses the reasons why so few women are running for office. Lawless questioned over 4,000 women who work in professions that tend to lead to political office. Law, business, education and political activism.
Of those 4,000 she found that 35% of them were less likely to run for office then a man. And of those 4,000, only 35% even considered themselves to be qualified to run for office. This could be due to the fact that women are 1- 12 times more likely to be responsible for the childrearing and the household duties of the family. The irony is that it isn’t until after women have raised their children that they feel able and willing to run for office. But it can take years to rise through the ranks and reach the higher levels of public office, such as the White House.
With over 500,000 elected positions in the country it’s time we start getting women to fill them. By not only encouraging all women to run for office, but to especially encourage younger women to start that road early.
What can YOU do? Encourage the young SheHeroes in your community to run for student government or local office. You never know, you might just be encouraging the first lady President.