The Lack Of Women’s Representation In American Politics

Historically, women have always been victim to being less represented in elected offices within the United States.

When we think of Politics in the U.S, one of the first things that come to mind is ‘Who is the leader? Who is the president? It is significant to note that American Politics has always been populated and dominated with male figures; in fact, there has never been a female president in the United States. When we think of historical key leaders over the years throughout U.S Politics we think of male figures, such as Barack Obama or George Bush. In comparison with other established democracies around the world such as Denmark and France, a lack of representation and opportunity regarding women continues to be a prevalent issue in American Politics. This therefore asks us the question ‘why is this?’ And, ‘why are women underrepresented and not given equal representation and opportunity to their male counterparts’ It has always been a concern, and although there are women within the United States who partake in political organizations and exercise their right to vote, their underrepresentation remains constant across all levels of government – at federal level, at state level, and also local level.

To begin with, there are various factors which suggest or give reasons why women may be seen as taking a back seat to men in this area.

One of the reasons may perhaps be down to gender discrimination/ gender inequality. Emma Watson, an actress and now a feminist activist, once quoted ‘How can we effect change in the world if only half of it is invited or feel welcomed to participate in the conversation?’ Here, Emma aims directly at the imbalance of power between men and women and the lack of opportunities and representation given to women in our society. Gender inequality can be defined simply as the unequal and biased treatment between males and females. It has always existed, and it has shown men to be the dominant gender and women to be the minority. It should also be noted that it was not until this century that women in the United States were allowed to own property, vote or even testify in court, so the imbalance of power between the two genders has always been evident for all to see. Men have always been stereotyped as the so called ‘bread winners’ therefore making them the ones who go out and work their jobs bringing in the money. On the other hand women have always been viewed by society as the sex which stays at home all day cooking and cleaning. In a world where we have advanced so much, we remain old school in our thinking of how men and women should be treated in our daily lives. Perhaps this idea of gender inequality and men being viewed as the more powerful gender with the higher social status and social power gives them more of an advantage over women when running for office as they are more likely to win. Is this partly the reason why women lack representation? Because men are viewed as being better suited for the job?

Furthermore, another factor which may affect the representation of women in Politics within the United States is the fact that many simply don’t run for office. How can women possibly be represented if they don’t run for office or put themselves forward? Perhaps the opportunities are indeed there but women tend not to take them? When looking into this area, I found that many women don’t run for office for a variety of different reasons. One of the many reasons I found was that women have the belief that they are insufficiently qualified to succeed as strong political leaders. Negative stereotypes which perceive women as being too weak and perhaps too nurturing can be very off putting for women and prevent them putting themselves forward in running for office as they may lose their own self confidence. Women may view themselves not fit or have the skill set to win political campaigns. Therefore, with this in mind, if women are being viewed in a bad way within the political spectrum, then they are only going to lose the motivation to even attempt to run for office, which in turn maintains gender inequality within political office and also results in fewer women being represented in political office. Other reasons for why women don’t run for office include the loss of privacy. For example, many women don’t want their jobs to interfere with their own personal life and when the media gets involved then you run the risk of having your personal life exposed to the wider public. The fear of losing privacy may also be a factor playing a role in why women don’t run for office, resulting in why women are seen as being underrepresented in political office in the United States.

To conclude, it is evident that compared to other established democracies, the United States has fallen behind in bringing women to the forefront of political office. Having studied the possible reasoning behind the lack of representation women show throughout the United States in political office, we see how gender inequality plays a role in affecting women’s desires to run for office due to the perception that women may not be best suited to the role. However we also find that there are indeed opportunities there for women to run for political office, but they tend to rebuke the offer due to the consequences that may follow.