Seeking Parity. [UPDATED]

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

Well elections have come and gone both in Canada and the US, and some are asking -- but what of the goal of advancing women in political leadership?

How long will it take us? We already are well into the fourth decade since the contemporary women's movement of the 1970s spawned a generation that sought to claim an equal place in the halls of power.

Women make up 52% of Canada's population, yet we represent roughly 20% of elected politicians on municipal, provincial and federal levels.  Currently Canada sits in 44th place in the world on the Inter-Parlimentary Unions ranking of countries by representation of women in government.  The breakdown is as follows:

Canada
Seats in the House of Commons - 308
Number of Seats held by Women: 65
Percentage - 21.1%

Seats in the Senate - 105 (90 currently sitting)
Number of Seats held by Women - 32
Percentage - 35.6%

Total - 24.4%

[update] The table above includes a selection of first-world countries and their rankings. For example, Rwanada sits at number 1 in the world for female representation at 49

In Still Counting, authors Linda Trimble and Jane Arscott argue that:

an "electoral glass ceiling" is keeping women at or below the 25 per cent mark, restricting women to less than half of the seats that would be theirs in a democracy committed to balanced, equitable and fair representation. Moreover, little is being done to address this ongoing democratic deficit. Despite drawbacks, such as the "revolving door" for female party leaders and continued sexism in legislatures, women can, and do, make a difference in politics. That's why it's important to elect many more, and more diverse, women to Canada's parliament and legislatures.

In our most recent election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper increased the amount of women his cabinet up from seven in the last session. Women now make up 29% of the cabinet, comparable to the ratio from Paul Martin's Liberal cabinet in 2003-04 (30%) and up from 22% in the last cabinet.

In the US, prior to 2008, the only female candidate to ever to run for national office on a major-party ticket, and was selected, not elected, as a vice presidential candidate was 1984 Geraldine Ferraro 24 years ago.  

Both in the primary and the general election much has been debated about both the progress and regression this election cycle has created for women. But even as the highest glass ceiling in American politics came the closest it ever has to being shattered, in Congress it was business as usual: Women made a net gain of one seat in the Senate, bringing the total to 17 out of 100, and three seats in the House, moving up from 71 to 74 out of 435 seats, or 17%.

Not everyone thinks this is good enough news though:

But what this means is that as the class of 2008 enters the Capitol's marble halls, it will include less than half the number of women who first won office in 1992 -- the so-called "year of the woman."

Currently the US sits in 71st place in the world with the follow breakdown:

United States
Seats in the House of Representatives - 435
Number of Seats held by women - 74
Percentage - 16.8%

Seats in the Senate - 100
Number of Seats held by women - 17
Percentage - 17%

Total - 16.9%

While these numbers are disappointing, there is some progress being made:

At the state level, the pipeline into federal office, there were some bright spots in 2008: A record number of women, 2,328, ran for state legislatures in a presidential election year, surpassing the previous presidential-year record of 2,302 set in 1992. (The overall record was set in 2006, when 2,429 women ran. More state legislative seats are up for election in non-presidential election years.)

"So 2008 was a record, and it managed to get us from 23.7 percent of women serving in state legislatures to 24.2 percent," says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Another bright spot emerged in New Hampshire, where women now hold a majority in the state Senate, 13 out of 24 seats - the first state legislative body in US history to be majority female. New Hampshire, and New England in general, has a history of electing women to office, owing to a tradition of citizen part-time legislators. In New Hampshire, the annual pay for legislators is $100, plus travel reimbursement.

Overall, when the totals of each state's legislative bodies are combined, Colorado ranks No. 1 for female representation, with 38 percent. Vermont has 37.8 percent, and New Hampshire, 37.7 percent.

"Once we drop the decimal points, we know that women will have arrived," writes former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin in a blog. In an interview, she notes that the citizen-legislator model of her state is what allowed her to get into politics when her four children were young.

In contrast, South Carolina now has no women in its state senate.

On the higher end of the Inter-Parlimentary Unions list, Germany sits at 32% and Sweden at 47% - however no country in the world represents the female populace at 52% where it sits around the globe. So where does that leave us?  

In Canada, we set a record of success this election.  And the US?  According to Marie Wilson, president of the White House Project, an organization working to advance women in leadership.

"At this rate, it will take us till 2063 to reach parity.  I mean, come on! We have to speed things up."

For more information on the advancement of women in politics, please visit Equal Voice and The Center for American Women in Politics.

Tags: Canada, government, Inter-Parlimentary Unions, parity, US, Women, world ranking (all tags)

Comments

96 Comments

i dream...

by canadian gal 2008-11-24 08:00PM | 0 recs
Re: i dream...

it seems that the glass ceiling is closer to the ceiling, but it's still there.  I mean there are women in management positions, paid less than males but still positions of authority, and the people have gotten used to the idea that women manage at least as well as men, but in the fortune 500 group (or it now 50, or 15) there are very few women in top management jobs.  Those power guys do seem to want on a 'few' 'exceptional' women around, they don't want their jobs to be seen as doable by women no smarter than they are.

I'd never been for legislating parity, but now I thinking, they won't do it unless they have to. If businesses showed such dismal lack of progress, they'd be cited and forced to use percentages to show progress in equal access, but the big businesses have many employees and can show advancement rates for women without opening up the ceilings.  And politics? To whom do the political parties answer when it comes to providing equal opportunity for women?  

Somehow I don't think our current supreme court much cares, they lost a woman and she was replaced with a white guy and I don't hear those guys complaining about it.  

I think the party members must hold the parties accountable, if we care enough. We must demand that highly qualified women, from politics but also academia and business be given an opportunity to the fat cat donors that run our party. Women donate to the parties and we stuff envelops and answer phones and phone bank and organize fund raisers.  We need to say, just a minute, what are you going to do to advance opportunities in politics for voters who look like me and in that way face my experience working for a living.

by anna shane 2008-11-25 10:29AM | 0 recs
Re: i dream...

A couple quick questions.

Lets suppose you are in a situation where you only have a choice between two neurosurgeons.  One barely passed med school, the other was summa cum laude from Harvard Medical School.  Which would you prefer to do a necessary operation to save your life?  Would it make a difference which one was a man and which one was a woman?  How would you feel if by law you were mandated to have the neurosurgeon operate on you that was less qualified to do the operation based soley upon the gender of the doctor in question?

My point is that the problem that exists today cannot be legislated away.  The fact that the woman (in the excersize above) was less qualified may have been rooted in societal problems, but we don't fix the problem by legislating her into the position of responsibility.  IMO, we fix the problem by legislating equality in the opportunity, by supporting women to become the best and the brightest in their fields so that we never have to legislate the job.

I think the issue can be resolved over time, but to legislate the outcome is a disservice, and may end up creating a greater negative reaction than you would get from positive outlook, and actions.

by Why Not 2008-11-25 11:09AM | 0 recs
politics isn't brain surgery

for sure in the professions the first place you want equality is in training, education, you can't skip that and just crown people professionals.  Most women professionals actually had to score higher in the not too recent past, so choosing a person of color or a woman for your doctor used to be a sign you were likely getting the very best, so hard was it for outsiders to get through the legacy system.  

But, politics isn't a science and the ones we already elect are very likely not drawn from the most qualified pool.  

Better to ask, what qualifies someone to run for office?  Right now it's money, birthright, connections, we have no qualifying examination and no way to tell which would score the highest. Additionally, and as we've just seen, experience isn't necessarily even useful for some positions, so, how to you test for judgement? How do you test for the ability to check one's ego at the door and do the right thing?  

by anna shane 2008-11-25 03:36PM | 0 recs
Re: politics isn't brain surgery

You are right that politics isn't brain surgery.  My point is just that we need to select those that we feel (demonstrated by experience, fact, aptitude, or even abilities that set them apart) are the best for a position regardless of their ethnicity or gender.  However, this also means that there is an obligation to get under represented groups to become the person of choice.  This cannot be legislated, or met by quotas.  It is an issue of preparedness, and social norms of acceptability.  

The norms must be combated, again not through legislation, but by looking forward to the young generations that are not already set in their ways.  That will ultimately lead to a more egalitarian society.  Imposing the norms from above will yield a fierce reaction that may set back the movement a very long way.

by Why Not 2008-11-25 07:07PM | 0 recs
Re: politics isn't brain surgery

hardly anything happens that way, it usually takes laws, people being the selfish greedy beings we have proven to be.  Doors will not magically open. Without affirmative action, without civil rights legislation, we would not have our current president.  waiting is only an option if you don't care that much, cause waiting won't likely move anything forward. It's a pity, your idea is sweet, partly, but naive.  

by anna shane 2008-11-26 05:03AM | 0 recs
Re: politics isn't brain surgery

Perhaps you are to understanding my point.  I am saying that legislating quotas do not help the cause.  Civil rights legislation was not legislating quotas, it was legislating access and equality to the means of advancement, as well as protecting individuals civil rights.  Quotas probably do more to further the concept that a group that is less qualified are getting opportunities that otherwise would go to those more qualified, than they help the group in question.  Hence they are detrimental to the cause of creating real equality.  This is where we get the subtext of the term "Afirmative action hire".  

I, for one, think that Obama, for example, is highly qualified for the position that he got.  The term "Afirmative aciton hire" is used unfairly in this case, and is detrimental to the cause of equality.  It is used to question what he does, and how he became president.   When people use this term in this fashion, Obama is being judged by the color of his skin and undermines all the mertits that he obtained himself through hard work.  These merits were not given to him, he earned them, but because of legislation of quotas people minimize and question his abilities unfairly.  This wouldn't have happened if he wasn't a minority, or if there was no such thing as quotas.

by Why Not 2008-11-26 06:03AM | 0 recs
Re: politics isn't brain surgery

I did not say that Barack is affirmative action, that's a weird take on what I said. I said that if there had not been affirmative action, then there would have been far less bright and worthy people of color allowed into previously exclusive schools.  Quotas worked with affirmative action and laws worked to force employers to hire qualified people of color. They didn't have specific quotas, but they had to count who they had and submit the diversity statistics, and if they didn't show an improvement, they were forced, and that was by quota.  That happened in San Francisco with the fire department and for quite a few years only women and persons of color got promotions, they'd been so left out. and that made some white guys angry, but that's the way it had to be.  

I hope that isn't necessary with women in politics, but right now we're the only group so underrepresented, so it looks like it may need to go that way.   You can debate whether quotas worked, but, turns out, they have in the past.

Also, affirmative action didn't mean that unqualified persons got into schools or got promotions, it's kind of racist to suggest that.  Blacks weren't kept out because they weren't qualified, but because of a history of exclusion.  

by anna shane 2008-11-26 10:44AM | 0 recs
What do you think keeps parity from occurring?

Seriously, do you think there is an institutional barrier that keeps women from running for office?  A better statistic would be how many women ran for public office in this country, and out of those how many of them won.  If the number of women that ran is low, then the issue may not lie with sexism, but rather with motivating young women towards a life of politics.

It is a fact that women are overrepresented in pre-college teaching and nursing.  A lot of that obviously has to do with old fashion mores.  Yet I don't see those teachers pushing young women towards public service.  In the U.S., there are a number of national programs to push young women towards science and engineering, fields where they are severely underrepresented.  And since the mid 80's huge gains have been made by women in those fields.  But I don't see much in the way of motivating women towards politics.

by shalca 2008-11-24 09:41PM | 0 recs
Re: What do you think keeps parity from occurring?

well i think its a variety of factors including sexism and the fact that in many countries women do not share in the same civil rights as their male counterparts.  

interestingly the country that holds the highest number of females represented in govt is
rwanda at 49% (which is still not representative of the 52% population numbers.  rwanda's numbers are largely the result of quotas.

now while both canada and the US are higher than the 15.1% of the world's average, something is amiss.

in my research for this diary, i discovered the canadian women voters congress which offers a campaign school and who's stated purpose is to:

-educate women about political and organizational systems
-encourage women of all backgrounds and political persuasions to participate in the political process
-inspire women to assume leadership roles

i think that more organizations like this would help in motivating women.

by canadian gal 2008-11-24 10:12PM | 0 recs
Re: What do you think keeps parity from occurring?

Do you think that it is partially biological, as in men are more naturally combative or need to assert their dominance more than women (these are just ideas I am not saying these are true)? I will grant you that there is indeed a degree of sexism, but do you think there are other factors, and if so, then is this really all that terrible? Because it seems that it misses the point to only focus on one aspect and work towards this goal purely for a gender balance where one is not necessary.

by WashDem 2008-11-24 11:06PM | 0 recs
Re: What do you think keeps parity from occurring?

To a small extent, biology may always be a factor -- how could one possibly disprove it?

But on the whole I don't find the argument convincing: there's the sheer fact that in most socially advanced countries (Scandinavia, Netherlands, etc) there's much greater parity in representation for women than in most socially-backwards ones. (there exist notable exceptions though)

Anyway, this strongly indicates to me that gender disparity is mainly caused by social issues, not biological ones.

by Aris Katsaris2 2008-11-25 01:42AM | 0 recs
Re: What do you think keeps parity from occurring?

"If the number of women that ran is low, then the issue may not lie with sexism, but rather with motivating young women towards a life of politics."

These issues aren't separate. The same sexism leads to both situations: women not being motivated towards politics and women finding a harder time if they attempt it.

by Aris Katsaris2 2008-11-25 01:29AM | 0 recs
Re: What do you think keeps parity from occurring?

I understand where you're coming from, but what about all the women that might have thought "I'd like to run" but after seeing the treatment of Hillary and/or Palin, don't want to be put through it? How do you find THAT number?

by nikkid 2008-11-25 05:04AM | 0 recs
Er, no

Most women I've talked to are really happy that Clinton gave as good as she got and was a serious contender.

Politics is a rough game.  If Palin & Clinton were men, they would've been attacked differently, but just as hard.  Of course, if Palin were a man, she wouldn't have gotten the nomination at all, so she was operating on an equality deficit from the get-go.

by Dracomicron 2008-11-25 05:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Er, no

actually - if you read some of the links provided in the article, there is a mixed reaction to both clinton and palin.  with some saying that their runs were progress and others stating that it was disastrous.

im cautious, and hoping though that this does not become the topic of conversation since clearly so many here view every element in politics - including the hope of world wide parity - through their primary war lens.

by canadian gal 2008-11-25 06:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Er, no

It's pretty much consensus that Clinton would've beaten McCain had she not had the misfortune of going up against the O-Train , and it only took Republicans 24 years after the Democrats to put up a woman as a stunt candidate for VP.  At this rate, they'll have a credible female presidential candidate by 2032... probably about twelve years after the first female Democratic president. :)

by Dracomicron 2008-11-25 06:48AM | 0 recs
Re: What do you think keeps parity from occurring?

I don't think it's just old fashioned mores involved in that decision.  

I don't think it's old fashioned for women to want to spend more time at home with their children.  Many women who become teachers do so in part because it is either a career they are starting after having volunteered in their children's schools, or because they want to have the same work hours as their children's school hours.

I don't agree with conservatives on much, but I think that feminists should place more value on the choice many women make to stay home with their kids.  It's not something I personally would want to do, but I definitely know others who have given up lucrative careers in order to make this choice.  I can understand why jetting around the world on business trips wouldn't be so exciting when you have little kids waiting for you at home.  I think it's just as commendable as running for office.  I also think it's a reality that isn't necessarily sexist which has to be taken into consideration when looking for parity.

by Renie 2008-11-25 07:33AM | 0 recs
Re: What do you think keeps parity from occurring?

Hey, when I said old fashion mores, I was not only speaking about women.  There are substantially fewer men pursuing a career in elementary school teaching or nursing.  Honestly, when was the last time that you saw a male kindergarten teacher? (and by the way, I don't blame them.  One angry kid making a false accusation would require that male teacher to leave the state).

Although sexism has created an income gap between men and women in this country, sexism does not only go one way.  It's more difficult for a female doctor to be taken seriously in certain parts of this country, but it is also more difficult for a man to get a job as a teacher for very young children.  

The courts still defer to the mother when it comes to custody of children.  

Although it's harder for a woman to get a waiting job at a reputable NYC steakhouse, I know that I couldn't get a waiting job at Hooters (not that I would want one).

The courts give stricter sentences on men that commit crimes than women who commit equivalent crimes.

The list goes on.

by shalca 2008-11-25 04:20PM | 0 recs
Re: What do you think keeps parity from occurring?

LOL
I work with a male Kindergarten teacher, and I went to teaching school with a male ex-marine who wanted to be a kindergarten teacher.

Everything I've heard from education professors and even from the union, is that male elementary teachers are in high demand.

by Renie 2008-11-25 09:07PM | 0 recs
Yet you had a female PM, Kim Campbell. Had

Mulroney not screwed up so much she would have had a better chance at a longer run. I was amazed how intelligent she came across after she appeared, on several occasions, on Bill Maher and I have a friend who worked with her in the same law firm in Vancouver and was greatly impressed by her. Polls showed during the primaries that it was harder for a female to be accepted as a viable candidate for the presidency than a black man.

by suzieg 2008-11-25 01:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Yet you had a female PM, Kim Campbell. Had

That's a slipperly slope in your last line. If the white woman is considered more viable than the black man, do we still have the same outrage for racism as we do for sexism.

I think what everyone is missing here is that politics are considered a male dominated sport because males mostly run.

Just as here in the States, the voting public has seen enough positive examples of black men and white women for years now (both fictional and nonfictional) that it wasn't hard to vote for either one to win against white males.

Obama's election is exposing something that noticed the first time I went to Toronto 10 years ago. Minorities are treated better in many European countries than in the US, but minorities are far more integrated into politics in the US.

Canada is going to have to address some larger underlying issues before we see more women at the top level.

by xodus1914 2008-11-25 04:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Yet you had a female PM, Kim Campbell. Had

Many times I heard people say about Obama, "I don't think of him as black, just as a man." No one ever said of Hillary, "I don't think of her as a woman, just a competent person." And, perhaps, therein lies the difference between racism and sexism.

by Marjoriest 2008-11-25 05:14AM | 0 recs
I said that plenty of times

People in my area, for the most part, really didn't care about Clinton's woman-parts.  Some people thought it would be nice if she made history as the first female president, but the people that voted for Obama voted for him because he was thought to be a better candidate for what we need right now, not because of his man-parts.

by Dracomicron 2008-11-25 05:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Yet you had a female PM, Kim Campbell. Had

why are we talking about racism???

this is not the topic of the diary, nor is it even mentioned anywhere.  please lets examine this issue without trying to make it a competition or examiniation with a v. important and equally relevant problem of racism.

by canadian gal 2008-11-25 06:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Seeking Parity.

I agree with the poster upthread who asked about the number of women candidates and if their successful campaign percentage has dropped.

Do you know what the numbers are at the state/province and local level?

The amount of potential personal destruction one has to be willing to endure to become a governor, congresscritter, or President is huge.  I have to wonder if women with children are less likely to want to go through that particular process than men. Especially in light of treatment of the entire Clinton family by Arkansas Project, Rush Limbaugh, etc.  And, if so, I view that as a sign of good mental health.

I also wonder if women are less likely to want to uproot their families for politics than men.  i.e. are they more likely to get involved with state and local politics where they're kids don't have to change schools, etc.

If those things are true, then I would expect to see women get involved in national and gubernatorial politics who are younger, who've chosen not to have children, or who wait until they kids are at high school/college age.  Younger people don't really have the resume built up to run credible congressional campaigns (and in many cases, haven't reached the minimum age requirements).  I think they tend to either become staffers in Washington or go into state and local politics.

I've observed - totally anecdotally - in the places I've lived, a good percentage of women on city councils, as state legislators, county commissioners, town managers, etc.  Enough for it to be totally unremarked upon.  So clearly something changes between that level of government and the 'higher' echelons.  

by Dreorg 2008-11-25 02:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Seeking Parity.

And a quick thought.

Parity, by itself, isn't enough.  I contributed to a number of women this year through various ActBlue fundraising pages.  But I still cheered loudly in my apartment when Marilyn Musgrave lost her seat.

Candidate quality needs to be a factor.  I'd rather be represented by a progressive or center-left person of any gender than a female right-wingnut.

by Dreorg 2008-11-25 04:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Seeking Parity.

I honestly don't think parity should be a very great factor at all when it comes to actual representation.  Rather I think that parity in opportunity should be what you aim for.  If you require that 52% of all representatives be women you limit quality.  

What if the vast majority of qualified candidates were women and you decided that having congress made up of say 85% women was unfair to men in this country even though only 15% of men actually qualified for the job?  It's having an equal shot at running and an equal shot at winning or losing that is important.

by shalca 2008-11-25 04:28PM | 0 recs
Is this what we really want?

When there's a significant segment of female populations coming from the Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann mold, I'm of the opinion that we need to look at more than just gender when we're hoping for "parity."

We should be looking for politicians who will fight for equal opportunity for all people, regardless of gender or other identity status.  The key is to get strong candidates.  If we had more Amy Klobuchars or Kathleen Sebeliuses, we'd have more women in government.

by Dracomicron 2008-11-25 04:47AM | 0 recs
Well, in a sense

the fact that we now have some really BAD female politicians shows that we've come a long way.  You don't have to be some kind of univerally beloved superwoman just to get elected anymore.

by corph 2008-11-25 05:42AM | 0 recs
That's my point

People always talk about folks like Palin and Bachmann (and sometimes even better folks like Clinton) as "Setting back women in politics [x] years," but in actuality, that these women are allowed to be bad politicians and stay in power on the strength of their campaigning and manipulative abilities shows that they're more on par than we thought: scumbag female politicians to go with all the scumbag male politicians.

They can't all be Olympia Snowe or Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

by Dracomicron 2008-11-25 06:42AM | 0 recs
This quote in particular

an "electoral glass ceiling" is keeping women at or below the 25 per cent mark, restricting women to less than half of the seats that would be theirs in a democracy committed to balanced, equitable and fair representation.

is WRONG, and a misinterpretation of what constitues fairness.  It is a gender-based equivalent of applying both "affirmative action" and a quota system to political representation.  I don't care if the % of women holding political office is 20% or 80%.  Women will achieve true parity when they are elected independently of their gender, not because we're trying to compensate for historical injustices.

Trying to mach political representation with demographic breakdowns ignores selection bias and only encourages identity politics.  Equal opportunity and equal treatment should be the goal for women in politics, not a 52-48 split.

This article speaks to the issue much better than current gender statistics ever could.

by corph 2008-11-25 05:39AM | 0 recs
Re: This quote in particular

is it wrong?  really?  numbers that show that in canada - for every 10 politicians - 2.4 are women ot in the states for every 10 politicians in the - 1.7 are women?

while the article you link is great and a positive step in the right direction its FAR from speaking the truth.

a better question would be, why is it that so many here and elsewhere have a problem with parity or even a discussion about one?

are we in a third-wave feminist world where these things don't matter?  really?  the numbers dont lie

by canadian gal 2008-11-25 06:54AM | 0 recs
Is it more important...

...to have a representative number of women in political office (based on the % of female citizens), or to have the best person regardless of gender.

True equality means ignoring gender completely and choosing the best human being.

An even better question would be: why aren't you advocating for true equality over quotas?

by Sully Fick 2008-11-25 07:10AM | 0 recs
So for x number of years

Team A has had the best equipment, the best coaches, the best recruiting tools. Not only that, when the race begins, they get to start 50 yards ahead of Team B.

Team B has the worst equipment, outdated, underfunded, the worst recruiting tools.. and they start 50 yards behind.....so they never win.
When they don't win anything, they are said to be weak, ineffective and ill prepared.

So what is the solution.  Until and unless there is equity AND COMPENSATORY ACTIONS to UNDO the factors that caused the inequity, how do we overcome the traditional powers.  Affirmative action that kept people like Obama and Hillary out of the game went on for over 200 years.  How the heck are we supposed to look at thing as "equitable" now.

Hopefully the election of Obama proves that affirmative action works.  Will it transfer into more monies for poor neighborhood schools?  How do we address the issue of making affirmative action encourage minority children to succeed if they do not ever see the fruits of that labor?  If we do not push to get minority kids into schools and jobs with power and influence, how do we change reality?

Amd for females it is even more difficult because of gender. If a woman wants to advance in her early years, she delays having children until she is older or until she gets a job where maternity leave does not impact a career negatively.  Then when she in her forties, when most males are getting close to the the top, she still has younger children.  So she delay until she is older and let's be honest here: ageism affects women much more intensely than men.  

If people honestly think  that gender and race do not matter, they are most likely unaffected.

by Jjc2008 2008-11-25 08:53AM | 0 recs
Re: This quote in particular

I don't think that people have a problem with exploring the inherent reasons for why there are fewer women candidates and politicians, and at which levels of government.  However, parity for the sake of parity (which, for the record is not what I think you're talking about here - for reference, see Nancy K.) is troublesome.

Given the choice between being represented by Michelle Bachman or a progressive or center-left man with a demonstratedly positive record on social justice concerns, which would you pick?  Assume the tickets were flipped, and it was Palin v Biden?  I'd rather have the author of the Violence Against Women Act than someone who advocates for total abortion bans and abstinence-only education and is the governor of the state with the worst record of rapes and sexual assaults.

Likewise, a discussion of the number of women in Congress in 1992 versus 2008 without looking at deeper trends doesn't carry much meaning.  Who were the women in 1992?  How many were Republicans versus Democrats, liberals versus conservatives?

If there are fewer progressive / center-left women in 2008 than in 1992 in Congress, then that's evidence of a systemic issue that needs to be addressed within the Democratic Party.  If thare are fewer right-wing women in 1992 than in 2008 and they have been replaced with progressive / center-left men, is that really a bad thing in the short run?  

It would be helpful to know where the shortfalls are occurring and at what level.  Identifying and addressing the barriers to equal opportunity and also working to bring better candidates, regardless of gender, into the process seem to me to be different, but complementary challenges.

by Dreorg 2008-11-25 07:17AM | 0 recs
great points.

and i welcome anyone that has that information handy in context of drilling down even further to this problem.  but it seems shameful - that yet - again - people are taking such a serious problem.  and it is a problem, and making this an primary rehash.

it seems to me that for some progressive, liberal ideology is somewhat of a faint notion. (not you of course ;)

by canadian gal 2008-11-25 07:27AM | 0 recs
Re: great points.

I don't have that information, but one of your links referred to state legislatures (and the NH State Senate being the first female-majority legislative body).  One of the comments was about how New England has historically had larger female representation, and credits it to part-time legislatures.

That is probably a factor, but another (IMHO) is the small size of the New England states.  Being a state legislator in doesn't require relocation, for the most part, which I think probably reduces barriers to participation.

Re: the primary wars.  I think that is an unfortunate side effect of seeing the hopes and dreams of two different underrepresented groups put in conflict with each other.  It is, I think, a naturally human concept to want to see someone from "your tribe" break down a barrier.

by Dreorg 2008-11-25 07:46AM | 0 recs
Sigh

Given the choice between being represented by Michelle Bachman or a progressive or center-left man with a demonstratedly positive record on social justice concerns, which would you pick?

Sadly the 6th District had differing views than we do.

by Dracomicron 2008-11-25 07:30AM | 0 recs
I have a problem

with striving for 52% representation for its own sake.

You're presuming that:

1) Women, overall, are as good at running and serving in office as men are, which I believe is true.
2) The desire to run for public office and the willingness to put up with all the stress and shenanigans of the job is equal between the sexes.  I strongly suspect that it's not.

Why are there so few male nursing students and kindergarten teachers?  Why is the percentage of women in engineering schools so low?  There are substantial difference between sexes in terms of academic preferences.  I don't see why politics couldn't have the same selection bias by gender.  Which is not to say women shouldn't be encouraged to enter public service or run for office; I'm all for that.  My point is that women being "underrepresented" in electoral office (or overrepresented, as the case may be someday) is not a shortcoming in itself.

There's another angle to this social phenomena, namely that female-dominated professions tend to pay less for equal levels of education and workload.  But that only means nurses should get paid more and MBAs less, not that we need big scolarships for male nursing students or female MBAs.

Incidentally, I'm perfectly fine with a discussion about parity, hence my commenting.  I simply don't see the idea of "parity" the same way you do.

by corph 2008-11-25 09:13AM | 0 recs
Oh, and the WRONG part

was the "equitable, balanced and fair" conclusion.  I'm not questioning the numbers, I'm questionig the interpretation.  Having political representation match overall demographics should not be conflated with fairness or equity.

by corph 2008-11-25 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, and the WRONG part

the conclusion you mention was put forward by the authors of one the links i cited.  im not saying that i necessarily agree with their semantics.  but clearly you don't.  

so if i may ask - what number of female representation would be "equitable, balanced and fair" to you?  or is the current world average of 15.1% fine?

by canadian gal 2008-11-25 02:41PM | 0 recs
NP, I understand

that it was a quote and not by you.

Theoretically, female representation in government should be

FRG = I x E

Where

I: Overall relative Interest and commitment of females in running for public office.

E: Average Efficiency of campaigns run by women compared to men.  If we can assume women campaign as well as men do (measured simply in terms of winning elections), this would be equal to one.

If reliable studies can show that women are just as committed as men to running and that they are as good at it, then 50% would be the ideal (not necessarily 52%, as I believe the imbalance is moslty due to life expectancy disparity (more elderly women than men and the elderly seldom run).

Unfortunately, I believe it's impossible to judge the quality of a campaign effectively (remember the primary fights and lack of consensus as to why Obama won).  We do know women can run effective campaings (Palin '06, Kagan '08) and really crappy ones (Townsend '02, Dole '08).

Short answer: unknowable.  It's quite possible that it should be higher than 15%.  The place to start is trying to guage relative interest, and finding ways to overcome psychological barriers.  But I believe trying to attain an arbitrary target is wrong and counterproductive.

by corph 2008-11-26 04:55AM | 0 recs
Hooray, more dumb diaries.

We don't need pity parties... the netroots had been mobilizing support and fundraising for great candidates of any gender. Any further disparities can only be solved by increased access to education, which will hopefully come in as a high priority with the next admin.

This site is about representation based on stances on issues, not genitalia.

by notxjack 2008-11-25 05:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Hooray, more dumb diaries.

We're all a little sensitive to this topic right now because of the PUMA's cries of misogyny but this diary gives some valid statistical information.  Women are statistically underrepresented in positions of power. The question that has yet to be answered is why.

If I can ever coalesce my thoughts into a coherent narrative, I shall write a diary giving my opinions but they revolve around women's perceptions of themselves.  Canadian Gal has pointed out a symptom of the problem which is a good starting point. She did not point fingers and cry 'sexism' or worse 'misogyny'.

Once we wake up to the existence of a problem, then we can begin to root out the causes and devise a plan to cure it.

by GFORD 2008-11-25 06:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Hooray, more dumb diaries.

so to clarify - equal representation is not - to you- a worthy global goal?

by canadian gal 2008-11-25 07:07AM | 0 recs
Agreed.

H.L. Mencken observed that there's an easy solution to every human problem - that is neat, plausible, and wrong. The goal of statistical parity is a simplistic and ineffective bandaid, and diverts attention away from a host of women's issues that are both genuine and urgent.

In the States wage disparities by gender, sexual harassment, spousal abuse, domestic violence, lack of childcare help for single-parent households - should merit far more attention to anyone looking to improve the lot of women. Across the globe - repressive laws, honor killings, female infanticide, discrimination in access to education, etc. would seem to be far more meaningful issues to address than an obsessive focus on the statistical ratios of women in government.

That's not to say that there shouldn't be an effort to promote more strong female role-models, but rather that equal opportunity should be the focus, and that some much needed perspective and balance when it comes to policy goals would be welcome in this regard.

by Sumo Vita 2008-11-25 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Hooray, more dumb diaries.

I generally don't like to weigh in on these sorts of devisive issues, but I will venture a couple speculative guesses.

I agree there is a lack of represenation of women in politics (re the numbers), but I don't know that there will ever be a point of complete equilibrium whereby any groups (gender included) will reach their proportions in the society at large.  And I think that we should reward competence over favoring any demographic.  This is probably the biggest hurdle since there is no real equality as far as the starting points for these differing groups.

Some of the reasons for the inequality of the playing field include but are not limited to:

1.  Economic discrepancies
2.  Social Norms propagated by
  a. The media
  b. Religeon
  c. history (historical disadvantage)
  d. Family structure
  e. Insitutional (government, laws, schools)
3.  Educational Gaps, especially within certain fields of education

In order to see any real improvement, many of the issues will have to be adressed in the areas I mention above.  Unfortunately there is considerable resistance from these groups who mostly favor the status quo.  Change is hard, thinking about things in a different way goes against the grain for many.  It's not right, but that is the hill there is to climb reguardless of the disadvantaged group.

Fortunately the best ally for change is time, and over time, many of the preconceptions can eventually be corrected.  But the evidence that there is a long way to go does not mean that there hasn't been alot of progress along the way.  The sufferage movement proves this point.  It took a very long time for women to get the right to vote, many concepts had to be altered, opinions changed, but most importantly the old people set in their ways had to die in order to make this possible.  By far the most effective way to combat inequality is to combat the seeds of it that are implanted in youngsters every day.  It is far easier to deal with sexism or racism before it is engrained than it is to do later.  And this is the crux of the problem, but it also the reason for hope.  It is my firm belief that over time these preconceptions can be overturned, but the fight has to be here and now, but for the minds of the future.  The present bunch are already tainted.

So if you see something or somone that tells a young girl that girls aren't good at math, or cannot be scientists, that is a place to fight.  Or if you see people practicing economic injustice, that is a reason to fight.  It is the conception that is far more damaging than the fact of what may seem like a slight inequality at the time.

by Why Not 2008-11-25 09:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Hooray, more dumb diaries.

may i ask why you consider parity a divisive issue?

by canadian gal 2008-11-25 02:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Hooray, more dumb diaries.

I think that it can become a divisive issue when it is imposed (legislated) from above.  There are people who react quite negatively to this sort of arrangement, or who feel that the underrepresented group that they belong to or identify with do not get fair treatment vis a vis legislation.  Then what you (frequently) have is an argument over who is most repressed, who got what, who didn't get what, and the conversation deteriorates to a screaming match with the end result that no one gets any of what they want, and the status quo prevails.

This was one of my biggest problems with the tone that was set frequently this election cycle.  The group that benefits from dividing us is the group favoring the status quo (usually have an R next to their name).  But I feel this should not be a divisive issue.  I wish people were able to see though this divisive politics, but I fear that is not where we are as a society at this point in time.  Hence I advocate a more delicate approach.

Having said all of this, I am happy, by and large, that the election turned out the way that it did (save prop 8) since I saw it as a victory of the people uniting and not letting these divisions cost us a chance to change things in the here and now.  I do recognize that this is still a powder keg type issue that react at any time.  So I prefer to tread lightly.

by Why Not 2008-11-25 07:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Hooray, more dumb diaries.

I would also like to add that, just like in music, there is always room for improvement.  We shouldn't be discouraged that perfection has never been reached, but should keep striving to reach it.  Look to the future and all that jazz.

by Why Not 2008-11-25 07:23PM | 0 recs
In the end

The dearth of women in leadership is a symptom of a larger problem. Rather than artificially manipulate the symptoms, the root causes need to be effectively addressed. You can't address root rot by painting over the leaves.

by Sumo Vita 2008-11-25 09:29AM | 0 recs
That is an idiotic troll comment and you know it.

Equal representation doesn't even make sense as a phrase as you used it. What this blog is about is promoting a progressive social and economic agenda through democratic representation. Having a progressive male candidate is a better representative of the views held by this site's subscribers than would be a conservative retard woman. Or did you think Sarah Palin was the second coming of Susan B. Anthony?

This is just asinine PUMA shit. If you can't get over it, go away.

by notxjack 2008-11-26 03:32AM | 0 recs
first you abuse the ratings systems above.

and then this?  really it would appear that and your cool buddy dtaylor3 are the trolls.  the fact that you poison this diary with your rehashing of primary crap says enough.  

how anyone would perceive an issue like female GLOBAL representation as anything related to the US democratic primary says much more about you than the content of this diary.

grow up.

by canadian gal 2008-11-26 11:18AM | 0 recs
I wonder how female representation

correlates with the status of gender equity in each of these countries.  Do women actually have it that much better in Sweden than in Ireland?

by corph 2008-11-25 05:52AM | 0 recs
Correction

Of topic, but your table up there is misleading.
It gives the impression that the countries listed are the ones with highest percentages and everyone else has less women parlamentarians. this is not true.

This is instead a selective table showing only "first world" countries - as if the situation in others is worse, which is not necessarily true.

In fact, if instead of showing percent of women in parlament you were to show countries which had female heads of state, you would get very interesting results :) raising the question of why India, Pakistan, Israel, Argentina, etc... had female heads of state but US didn't...

 

by lolo08 2008-11-25 06:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Correction

sorry which table?  

the blockquotes directly represent canada and the us' numbers and their world rankings.  you're right in that i do not mention other countries (not first world) and their rankings since it would just be way to long though.

by canadian gal 2008-11-25 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Seeking Parity.

The "share of" one. That start with Sweden and ends with Japan.

I realize you didn't make it, but the selection of countries to be included does need an explanation :).

by lolo08 2008-11-25 06:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Seeking Parity.

good point - will do.

by canadian gal 2008-11-25 07:09AM | 0 recs
But should statistical parity be a goal?

Some thoughts.

Let's abandon the gender-polarizing lenses for a second, and consider some other means of classifying our elected candidates. Going by profession for example, a disproportionate number of politicians have backgrounds in law. Does this imply that the myriad other professions are "under represented"? Should we be struggling for parity, or rather recognize that there are legitimate reasons why a legislative career might appeal to those in the legal profession?

Incidentally, what is the ratio of women to men in the legal profession?

Let's now retrieve those gender-polarizing lenses, and examine a different set of statistics. In divorce cases where joint custody is not an option, mothers are overwhelmingly awarded custody of their children, over the father. Why is this? Are those mothers being judged more suitable because of sexist, gender-based presumptiousness, or have those mothers proved themselves statistically to have been the better parent?

by Sumo Vita 2008-11-25 06:53AM | 0 recs
Re: But should statistical parity be a goal?

Incidentally, what is the ratio of women to men in the legal profession?

I would hope it's around half, given this statistic...

It has been well over two decades since women started outnumbering men among American undergraduates. And at the nation's medical and law schools, nearly half of incoming students are now female.

cbsnew.com

by Rob in Vermont 2008-11-26 03:15AM | 0 recs
Who's raising the children?

It's fairly obvious that the primary caregiver is going to have less time and flexibility to devote to a career. For a career politician, this is obviously a serious hindrance.

Nor is it only visible in politics. In companies I consult with, above a certain level people tend to be either childless or male.

Is the effect of traditional gender roles sexist?

To the wider question, must modern women think and behave the way men do? If they do not, there will be differences in outcome. Are those differences attributable to sexism or free choice?

by Neef 2008-11-25 07:52AM | 0 recs
To the wider question
Must modern women think and behave the way men do? If they do not, there will be differences in outcome.

Good point. Is there such a thing as a "chick flick"? Did this term come about because of societal prejudices, or a natural propensity?
by Sumo Vita 2008-11-25 08:38AM | 0 recs
Dads can raise children too

It's fairly obvious that the primary caregiver does not necessarily have to be a woman.

Yes, the effect of "traditional gender roles" is sexist. The very concept of "traditional gender roles" is sexist. That's the whole point. As long as people use "traditional roles" as the excuse for inequality, we will always have inequality.

For far too long, people have used so-called "traditional roles" as an excuse for discriminating based on ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin and ancestry. At this point in our nation's history no one should accept "Tradition" as an excuse for continued inequality.

by LakersFan 2008-11-25 11:25AM | 0 recs
It's not "CAN dads raise kids?"

because we're not talking about hypotheticals. The question is "DO they raise kids"? If the answer is largely "no" (which I suspect is the case), then you have identified at least a part of the reason for the disparity in representation.

As far as traditional gender roles being sexist, I don't make (nor really understand) the definitions, so I'll certainly accept yours. I do think if you really want to address sexism, taking on the biggest possible bite is counterproductive. It seems to me that parenthood has a great deal of cultural inertia, and redefining it (in ways that are unclear) is a massive first step.

Personally, I think the first step to fighting sexism is finding out what it is (and isn't), but I may be behind the curve.

by Neef 2008-11-25 12:12PM | 0 recs
It's not hypothetical

Yes. Dads DO raise kids. I know lots of them that do a great job of it. The assumption that only women raise children is at the very root of gender discrimination. People have to let go of stereotypes about "traditional roles" if we ever want to eliminate discrimination (of any type). The fact that you refer to dads raising kids is a "hypothetical" indicates that you are clinging to an outdated stereotype.

by LakersFan 2008-11-25 02:46PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not hypothetical

Some dads do.  The vast majority do not.  That's simply a fact, not a stereotype.  I agree that societal more should change, but let's not call something outdated when it is very much extant.

by shalca 2008-11-25 04:43PM | 0 recs
Re: It's not hypothetical

Who said anything about the "vast majority"? The point is, we don't judge people's fitness for jobs based on a stereotype about their demographics. That's discrimination, which is wrong whether the stereotype is accurate or not. (And this is an outdated stereotype because most American families have two working parents, if they're lucky enough to have two parents.)

by LakersFan 2008-11-26 09:22AM | 0 recs
Change does not come

from wishful thinking. What percentage of families do you know where the father is the primary caregiver?

Of the dozens of families I know, exactly ONE has the father as primary child-rearer. Of course every good father contributes, and I assume we aren't talking about "helping out".

Now granted, I live in Western PA, a fairly conservative area - I don't claim that the reality is the same in Greenwich Village or Berkeley. But I would seriously challenge any assertion that males are the primary caregiver, nationwide. That's just blowing smoke.

by Neef 2008-11-26 07:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Change does not come

I never said that the majority of caregivers are dads, I said that assuming that mothers are always the primary caregivers was an outdated  stereotype that should not be used as an excuse for inequality. We cannot rely on stereotypes about who should be doing what job, or we will have massive discrimination based on all sorts of bad stereotypes and prejudices (not just gender based). We are beyond that, aren't we?

The assumption that mothers are always the primary caregivers is an outdated stereotype. The many dads that I know that are either primary or equal-shared caregivers do not appreciate the assumption that they are less capable caregivers, just as the working women I know do not appreciate the assumption that they are less capable employees.

by LakersFan 2008-11-26 09:10AM | 0 recs
Hold on

You're acting like I said the majority of women should be primary caregivers. That's not what I said. I said they likely are.

If I say young black men are most likely to be killed by other young black men, is that a stereotype too?

While some large fraction of American women are primary caregivers, we can pretend that is NOT the case, then wonder why they are underrepresented in time-consuming occupations. Or we could look at it as a reason why they ARE underrepresented.

I simply don't see any merit in the former approach.

by Neef 2008-11-26 10:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Hold on

Your subject was "Who's Raising the Children?" and then you went on to make a bunch of assmuptions based on "traditional roles" that you used as an excuse for inequality.

Yes, women are underrepresented in time-consuming occupations. And a big reason for that is because people like you assume that they are the primary caregivers and don't have the time or ambition for those careers. That's exactly the problem. You can keep pretending this is all a matter of women "choosing" to have less demanding careers, but that amounts to a stereotype being used to justify discrimination against women. If it's not okay to discriminate against people of a certain race because they're more "traditionally" suited towards particular careers, it's not okay to impose these types of stereotypes based on gender.

by LakersFan 2008-11-26 10:48AM | 0 recs
Or maybe the problem is people like you

Who want to dismiss the very real problems modern professional women shoulder, over and above their male counterparts. Who want to pretend that equality is a done deal.

I'm very happy that in your world, the burden of primary care has been lifted from women, and enlightened husbands across the land stay home with the kids, go to the doctors, and show up at the PTAs, while Mom is building her career with those 11-hour days. It's great to hear that that quintessential obstacle has finally been lifted, in your mind.

In the meantime every single one of the married women in my office has gone home to make dinner. The men, not so much.

Bet they wish they lived in your world, huh?

by Neef 2008-11-26 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Or maybe the problem is people like you

Who's pretending any of that? I'm saying that women are being treated unequally, and using "traditional roles" as an excuse for that is not acceptable. I have no idea what you're arguing. I've never claimed that women have been relieved of caregiving, just that no one should assume that they are solely responsible for it, or use it as an excuse of inequality.

by LakersFan 2008-11-26 12:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Or maybe the problem is people like you

I'm saying that women are being treated unequally

No, I said that, in my original comment, and you spent your next three responses giving me a ration of shit for saying it. I said women are the primary caregivers, and you called that a stereotype (while presumably agreeing). I think that this primary caregiver status is one huge obstacle to time-consuming jobs, you clearly don't know what you think, since they simultaneously are and aren't primary caregivers in your world.

by Neef 2008-12-03 04:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Or maybe the problem is people like you

Talk about beating a dead horse. Me and my spouse are both equally shared/primary caregivers of our child. Sorry you can't wrap your head around this concept, but it's reality for many, many people.

Assuming that mothers are the primary caregivers is relying on a stereotype. (And "stereotypes" aren't necessarily inaccurate, they're just not a good basis for making judgments about people.)

by LakersFan 2008-12-03 09:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Seeking Parity. [UPDATED]

Well, I am excited about Napolitano getting Homeland Security, and I expect Sebelius will get a slot, too. Hopefully Susan Rice will get something prominent as well, and I can think of two particular women I'd like to see at Labor and HUD. If Harman gets DNI, is there a more progressive woman we can get to hold her seat in congress?

Here in Delaware, we're going from having a female Governor but all other statewide officers as men, to having a male governor but a female isurance commissioner (elected) and state treasurer (appointed as a replacement for our now-Gov).

by X Stryker 2008-11-25 07:57AM | 0 recs
It's really about...

..."electability".

i have been thinking alot about this.  for the record - i am not stating that women cannot win parity in politics and should concede.  but it got me to thinking about the 'electability' issue and I decided to put it out there and see what everyone thought about the hypothetical.

lets say a woman does win a nomination, it will be by a nose and she moves on to the GE.  and lets say we see what some fear/suspect could happen to her.   which is a repeat of 1972 where mcgovern was humiliated like no loser had been humiliated before.  

so as democrats i ask, g-d forbid, if this were to happen - what will you be thinking?

Source

by Sully Fick 2008-11-25 08:38AM | 0 recs
oh...

that's really what its about. thank you for your insight.

by canadian gal 2008-11-25 02:35PM | 0 recs
History is not fair play?

I thought we were supposed to learn from history, or something bad might happen.

But, it's much easier to dismiss than to engage.  I understand.

by Sully Fick 2008-11-25 02:44PM | 0 recs
you're funny.

ill leave the others to decide if that's in a good or bad way.  maybe 1/20 thinks so?

by canadian gal 2008-11-25 02:48PM | 0 recs
It's much easier...

to dismiss than to engage.  I understand.

It were not best that we would all think alike; it is the difference of opinion that makes horse races.

- Mark Twain

by Sully Fick 2008-11-25 03:20PM | 0 recs
I sometimes wonder...

...why I even bother posting here.

Now is one of those times.

You've successfully reminded me why there are much better uses for my time.  Thanks for that.  

Have fun playing in your sandbox.

by Sully Fick 2008-11-25 04:35PM | 0 recs
no problem.

you're a strange individual sully fick. you accuse me in another diary of rehashing the primary when its makes no mention at all was made of it save for individuals like you who care to mock serious issues in society to get your primary nastiness socks off.

then you stroll on in to this diary and accuse me of advocating for quotas. again which was never suggested by me.

then - when i didnt take your bait, you dig up a diary written by me during the primary - fiddle around with the wording and put in a comment that makes absolutely no sense to the content of the diary.

yes - i will gladly play in my sandbox with the mature kids thank you.

by canadian gal 2008-11-25 05:45PM | 0 recs
It's not "clear" to me...

Clearly Hillary Clinton, unless she got caught stealing money from the treasury, would not face that same fate.

Why is it "clear" that she would not face that same fate?

by Sully Fick 2008-11-25 02:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Seeking Parity. [UPDATED]

by Koan 2008-11-25 10:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Seeking Parity. [UPDATED]

koan - what happened?

by canadian gal 2008-11-25 02:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Seeking Parity. [UPDATED]

Countries that have proportional representation systems have more women holding political office.

Incumbency is also a barrier here in the US.  Political scientists have found that in competition for an open seat with no incumbent Female candidates have an equal chance of being elected.

The system of campaigning as an individual running for a seat - rather than as a person running on a party ticket (as in some parlimentary systems) also seems to favor having more female legislators.  

One of the best book on this subject came out last year:

Women, Politics, and Power: A Global Perspective
By Pamela Marie Paxton, Melanie M. Hughes
Published by Pine Forge Press, 2007

It's worth a read.

http://books.google.com/books?id=mjZIT35 ClcUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Wom en,+Politics,+and+Power&ei=N3QsSezxC 5PyMtu0-bQF
 

by NeciVelez 2008-11-25 11:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Seeking Parity. [UPDATED]

thank you for the link - i did see the book in my research for the diary and found their analogy right at the beginning of the book to be quite telling.

but your point about proportional representation is taken and i personally agree with.  do you have any insight into why incumbency is a problem?

by canadian gal 2008-11-25 02:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Seeking Parity. [UPDATED]

I found something interesting when I googled "Year of the Woman," which I didn't know.  It indicated that in the run up to the 1992 election, there were only two female senators (Kassenbaum and Mikulski), and prior to that cycle there had only ever been a maximum of four female senators serving concurrently.

Kassenbaum has since retired,  Mikulski is still active.  Of the 1993 class - Feinstein, Boxer, Mosely Braun, Murray (plus Hutchison if you include her special eleciton victory in 1993) - all but Mosely Braun are still serving in the Senate.

So, the rise from 16 to 17 in 2008 is, I will fully admit, unfortunately slow.  However, as a trend, it is not entirely disheartening.

From the 1700s until 1922, there were no female Senators.  From 1922 to 1992, there were between 0 and 4 depending on the point in time.  From 1992 to 2008, the number has increased from 2 to 17.  And we can't neglect to factor in the power of incumbency in the US system and the six-year terms of U.S. Senators.

There's a lot of progress to be made and a lot of room for improvement.  But I think there is a lot of good that has come out of the progress of the last 16 years, and I find it heartening.

by Dreorg 2008-11-25 01:05PM | 0 recs
Many foreign countries

have gender quota requirements for female representation in parliament.  I don't think there will ever be the political will to do something like that in the US or Canada however.

by JJE 2008-11-25 05:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Many foreign countries

what other solutions do you think might work?

by canadian gal 2008-11-25 05:47PM | 0 recs
Unfortunately

It is as others have said.  Women won't have proportional representation in politics until they have proportional representation in the fields that tend to feed political careers - more women law partners, more women business owners, etc.

The lack of gender equity in politics is just a microcosm of the lack of gender equity in the larger professional world.  One would hope that as more women go to law school, b-school, etc, that would change, but it doesn't appear to be really happening.  My view is that this is due to both explicit sexism as well as more subtle sexism masquerading as personal choice - e.g. the opt out revolution - as well as some degree of genuine personal choice.  

There is going to have to be lot of progress in attitudes about gender before any of these problems will be resolved.  Unfortunately, our political culture tends to focus on the formal rather than the structural.  Since the most blatant forms of gender discrimination are de jure prohibited, a lot of people think it doesn't exist and all the work has been done.  It's a pretty sad state of affairs.

by JJE 2008-11-25 06:02PM | 0 recs
WHY

should equity be associated with having equal numbers?

I'm really sick of liberals playing the numbers game with racial and gender identity.  That's not equity, it's a false reality that forces recognition of race and gender before talent and ability.

Barack didn't win because of his race, he won because he was good.  I don't want him counting minorities in order to pick his cabinet, I want him to pick the people that he feels are the best for each position.

Likewise I don't want some unknown "female politician" to be elected in order to fill some quota, I want women to have the same opportunity to run for office without being objectified that men have.  I want them to stop using their gender for help when it's convenient, and then complaining about gender bias when it's not.

I really just don't get the whiny bullcrap.  If we are strong women, then let's be strong women.  If you think there ought to be more women in office then run yourself, donate to someone, or help someone who you think is worthy.  Frankly, there are a lot of women (Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, Susan Collins, Ellen Tausher, and Diane Feinstein) who are in office who I really wish were not elected representatives.

by Renie 2008-11-25 09:23PM | 0 recs
oops

NeciVelez beat me to it

by JJE 2008-11-25 05:51PM | 0 recs
Gender parity is not the end all of gender

equality.  When you focus solely on the numbers, you reduce an important issue into mindless bean-counting.  

To illustrate this point, would you be happy with 50% female representation in Congress if all the female senators and representatives were conservative republicans and anti-choice?  

What's more important than merely showing the disparities between women in politics and the female general population is to provide substantive arguments explaining why it's good for democracy and gender equality to increase female representation in the political process.  Is it about increasing opportunities and access?  Is it about just making sure that women get a fair piece of the political pie?  Is it about changing the culture of male-dominated politics and political discourse?  Is it about ensuring the passage of more progressive policies?  

by ProfessorReo 2008-11-25 06:58PM | 0 recs

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