Women In Politics Women in Politics Beginning with the early nineteen hundreds, women from all over the country have bounded together, forming leagues and clubs for equal rights. However, it wasn’t until today “at the dawn of the twenty-first century, states and international community can no longer refute the fact that humanity is made up of two sexes, not just one” (Oliveria 26). Why has the woman’s move for equality just now started to balance itself out? Well, the answer is quite simple; women are just now being looked at as semi-equals. They are beginning to become corporate executives in businesses, and popular in the field of medicine and law. Women have tried hard to push themselves forward in society to create a balanced and harmonious economy and so far it has been successful.
Barriers of all kinds have been broken, well, all except a few, mainly in politics and with the information I have collected I will show why. Politics .. when one stops and thinks of the word “politics” what naturally comes to mind? Our founding fathers, Presidents George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson; the popular political figures of today, President Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Al Gore; or do we think about Belva Ann Lockwood, Jeannette Rankin, Frances Perkins, and Eugenie Moore – who? When American’s think about politics, Lyn Kathlene, journalist for the “Higher Education Chronicles,” states that “ninety-five percent of the time they envision a man who is in charge of running, or helping to run, their country.” Is society to blame for this misconception that women do not hold important roles in government and participate in making important decisions for our country? Not really, people just don’t hear or read about women in politics as often as they do about men. As most people learn throughout elementary and junior high or middle school, our nation first formed government in 1776 when Thomas Jefferson first drafted our constitution.
During this time women did not have a role in government, nor would they for the next one hundred and eight years, until a woman would try to run for office. “In 1884, Belva Ann Lockwood – the first woman to try a case before the United States Supreme Court – ran for Presidency” (Arenofsky 14). Well, to no surprise she lost, but her groundbreaking campaign made it possible and easier for Jeannette Rankin, thirty-three years later, to run and become elected to Congress for the state of Montana. However, even with this groundbreaking experience, women were still looked down upon for their lack of experience. It wasn’t until 1920 when women’s suffrage ended and the nineteenth amendment to the constitution, granting women the right to vote, that women were formally introduced into politics. However, even with voting privileges, women were still looked at as weak feeble creatures. The lack of confidence and the inability to be seen as strong-minded females who were not afraid to voice their opinion hurt the female gender immensely. It wasn’t until “Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D.
Roosevelt, crisscrossed the country speaking about social problems and serving as the quintessential role model for the politically active female” that women began to witness how to present themselves with confidence (Arenofsky 14). Finally, with women’s confidence on the rise and their new understanding and attitudes toward government, women were starting to attain a higher status in the political arena. The big break for women came from the decision by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who in 1933 appointed Frances Perkins to the cabinet as Secretary of labor (Hogan 4). With this big break, women were finally moving forward in government and there was no looking back. So, after all of this hard work and dedication by early feminists to achieve a voice in politics, was it worth the struggles and did it pay off? Rosiska Darcy de Oliveria, journalist for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Courier, believes so.
She states, women’s rise to power and their participation in politics are the vital signs of a healthy democracy, which would make good sense since the United States is a free country where everyone is suppose to be equal to their neighbor (26). However, others believe that political women are causing great harm to their character” (Oliveria 28). Oliveria states that, women in positions of power must constantly prove that they can behave like men. They keep quiet about having to look after children, run a household and care for elderly parents. Bringing those issues out into the open would mean admitting “‘flaws'” that men do not have ..
Women have changed, but the world of work has not and they are reacting to the point of exhaustion (27). Just imagine the women in power of today – Elaine Chao (Secretary of the Department of Labor), Gale Norton, (Secretary of the Department of the Interior), Ann Vereman, (Secretary of the Department of Agriculture), and Christine Todd Whitman, (Director of the Environmental Protection Agency). Not to mention the numerous women senators, state legislatures, judges, governors, and mayors. With the exception of a few, the vast majority of these women fall between the ages of thirty-five to fifty years old. In today’s society it is not uncommon for women of these ages to have young or teenage children at home. These high authority political figures are expected to work from seven in the morning to ten at night, five to six days a week.
They are also supposed to be responsible for the daily expected tasks of the traditional woman – cooking dinner, cleaning the house, running little Billy to baseball and karate and little Sally to ballet, and still look zestfully clean with a smile on her faces for her husband. The double burden, resulting from an outdated social contract, is putting women under mounting pressure by speeding up their lives to an untenable pace (Oliveria 28). However, in some magical, mysterious way, women are managing themselves quite nicely. So, besides the fact that it is detrimental to a woman’s character to be involved in politics, what else is holding them back? Robert E. Hogan, Professor of Government at Louisiana State University, believes it’s money. He states, it takes so much money to run for office in the United States (14).
Let’s face it, there are far more white-collared, wealthy men in the United States, and in the world for that matter, than there are women. Even with women having highly paid corporate executive jobs, women still make far less than that of their male counterparts. For women, this is one of the major issues as to why government is lacking female participation. The most valid explanation for this problem is that the government controls the financial gains of women to limit their power. Looking at the facts, women make up fifty-two percent of our nation’s population, strange how such a big percentage of population has little representation (Hunter 47). The thought of a government developed by males and dominated by females just does not sit well with the vast majority of higher male authority.
Therefore, in order to make sure that women do not dominate, without being boldly direct about it, income levels are tampered with. It may sound bizarre, but in Lyn Kathlene’s Studying the New Voice of Women in Politics, she gives some very valid evidence that shows how women are paid in comparison to men in the same high white-collared jobs. The results are quite shocking. Kathlene shows that women are out-paid by men by nearly forty-percent for the same amount of work and jobs! The responsibilities of taking care of their home and loved ones and the lack of funds, the fight for women’s dominance in government will never prevail. Does this mean American’s should just sit back and forget about the women before them who fought hard for their right to vote, to be heard, and have equality in government? No, but society needs to realize that this is ‘the dawn of a new century’ and the role of the female should indeed be reevaluated.