Hilary, Hilary, Hilary. Mrs. Clinton is hoping to run for the 2016 presidential elections and it seems like that’s all I’ve heard on NPR and in the news over the past few weeks. This will be Clinton’s second run around, after she ended her campaign in 2008 and endorsed Barack Obama (theweek.com). Even though at this point I can’t say for sure Hilary would be my candidate of choice, my point here is, she’s doing it; she’s taking the leap.
“I’m certainly in the camp that says we need to break down that highest, hardest glass ceiling in American politics,” the former first lady said (The Salt Lake City Tribune). The United States is sadly lacking when it comes to women in politics. According to the International Women’s Democracy Center, the good ol’ U.S. of A. rolls in at 68th place out of 134 nations worldwide. Only 16.8% of the House of Representatives and 16.0% of the Senate is comprised of females (iwdc.org). 16%? What? That means the other 84% is strictly male and we, as women, can’t even claim a quarter of Washington for ourselves…
So what’s holding women back? Michele Swers, a professor of political science at Georgetown University attempts to answer that questions. “There’s a lot of research on how voters react to women candidates,” said Swers. “Most of it has to do with how voters react to different stereotypes about women. Political leadership qualities like being strong, direct and tough are considered male qualities. Women face a double bind in that you need to show yourself as tough and confident but still retain feminine qualities without appearing weak.”
What’s wrong with a woman being strong, direct, and tough? Oh, right. It takes away from our “feminine qualities”. As much as I want to roll my eyes into the back of my head, I know it’s true. The biggest hurdles women politicians have to leap over are conventional ideas and closed minds.
But it’s possible. Look at Hilary. Sure, you may say, “nah, I’d never vote for her because of reasons A, B, and C,” but what you need to know is there are other potential and future female candidates out there. Maybe it’s a friend, or a relative, or even you that’s interested in being a part of the political world! Get involved and make a difference; it’s as simple as voting. It may not be Hilary, but I’d love to see a female leader in the White House within my lifetime. This milestone is way overdue.