I recognize that the lack of women in positions of power, particularly political offices, is alarming. Especially recently when issues relating to reproductive rights has been such a hot topic, but it is always an issue because hey, we are half the population, and as such we are being WAY underrepresented in politics. Then someone earlier this year commented that the lack of women in politics is not because of a glass ceiling – no one is running! Its not as if scores of women are trying to get elected and failing, we just aren’t trying. So this particular article is not at all groundbreaking – it comments that women aren’t trying to get elected because we don’t want to, and cites all sorts of polling data that supports this. But it doesn’t really discuss why women are turned off by the idea of competing for a political office. The only reason weakly offered is that women aren’t encouraged to run for office by their parents as many men are.
Which I will use as a segue to my point – part of the problem here is cyclical. There are few women in politics, so few women want to go into politics. The prospect of being the only girl in such a male dominated industry is such that only the really passionate women are going to want to put up with the bullshit to get the reward. Leading to my second point – politics doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation as an industry. All around it seems sordid, thankless, expensive, and tiring. I am sure there are parts that are rewarding…perhaps. But frankly it seems like a long uphill slog to get anything done, and to do so you have to tilt against some of the most bigoted, obstructionist individuals in society. So how does a realistic person go into that industry thinking they are going to make a difference? And who wants to put up with the mudslinging, character assassination, and heckling on the extremely small chance that you will? Bringing us to point number three: we as a country are not friendly to our females, particularly our female politicians. When was the last time a male politician was verbally dissected because of what he wore and what his hairstyle was? But women get that all the time. Let’s not roll our eyes and comment that you have to be thick-skinned to get into politics (which is true – but that’s not exactly how we raise our women, is it? Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what little girls are supposed to be made of) – there is no reason why women should have to put up with that sh*t if men don’t. Also, politics is the game for the egocentric, and if you have read any analysis about women in professional settings, we are much less likely to put ourselves forward than men are.
So as a politically minded, opinionated female I can tell you why I don’t want to go into politics – because it doesn’t seem worth making myself a target for all of the hateful bile that we as a country spew on our female politicians to risk coming to the end of your life and realizing that you didn’t accomplish anything at all, or what you did accomplish was undone the minute you left office. Screw that mess, I can accomplish a lot more with a lot less headache almost anywhere else.
Here’s my takeaway – if you want more women in office, let’s have a little political reform to make it more friendly to everyone, not just women. Let’s make it easier for minorities to enter politics and not just rich white guys, its not like women are the only group underrepresented in politics.