It is time to stop tiptoeing around the fact that women don't run much in the United States. It is a fact that I am going to illustrate shortly. People like to pooh pooh the notion because some progress HAS been made for women in the past 40 years. Yes, women are a larger part of the workforce than ever, women have better college graduation rates than men, women are populating the professions in ever greater numbers and in some cases exceeding the percentage of men. Why even just this week, women have been given the right to fight alongside men in combat.
All of this is well and good, but for the most part, women's advances have almost completely side stepped the advances that lead to the very top. This fact of life is largely unknown, and when the statistics are revealed, people are visibly shocked.
Part of this conversation revolves around three things. First of all, there is the false notion that women will simply EVOLVE to the top. If that is the case, the pace is so glacially slow that maybe in 200-300 years women will evolve to hold power positions in proportion to their numbers, and I'm not being facetious or sarcastic.
Secondly, there is the debate about whether it really matters if women run things. I truly hate this debate because it seems obvious to many of us that having women at the top in 50% of the positions of power would mean that women will be part of the big decisions that are made that shape our society. Admittedly we have no idea what that might look like here in the U.S., but heck, I'd love to see it for myself. Just because it has never happened before doesn't mean that it shouldn't happen. Our constitution promises equality, and this is an equality that is an ideal worth striving for. I also hate this argument because it gives misogynists everywhere cover for their prejudices. Women are just as capable as men in running things, and our country is less for keeping women out of the halls of power.
Third, and I have preached this idea since 2008 when I had my rude awakening with the sexism fest of the elections that year. Feminism, that much maligned word whose goals most people line up with but won't admit to publicly, as a political force spent all of its political capital fighting a fight that will likely go on for as long as the 237 year fight about larger versus smaller government. Nothing wrong with the fight on abortion. It is a worthy fight with excellent points on both sides. But it is a fight with no end, and to pin the future of women on a never-ending fight to the expense of all other objectives is ludicrous. The second wave of feminism had as its goal seeing women hold positions of power in proportion to their numbers, and that goal was abandoned. And like anything neglected, the growth is stunted.
So here we are in 2013, and THESE are the statistics painting the TRUE picture of where women are in our society:
Of the 100 largest cities in the United States, only 12% have women mayors:
- Fort Worth
- Las Vegas
- Chula Vista
- North Las Vegas
- Irving, TX
FIVE States have never elected a woman to the U.S. House of Representatives:
- North Dakota
TWENTY SIX States Have Never Elected a Woman to the U.S. Senate:
Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming
ONLY 24% OF ALL STATE LEGISLATORS IN THE U.S. ARE FEMALE:
20.3% of all state Senate seats are held by women
25.3% of all state House seats are held by women
ONLY 10% OF U.S. GOVERNORS ARE WOMEN:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- South Carolina
- THE U.S. RANKS #77 IN THE WORLD FOR FEMALE REPRESENTATION IN GOVERNMENT
- 20% of the U.S. SENATE ARE WOMEN
- 18% OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ARE WOMEN
- WOMEN HOLD 4.2% OF CEO POSITIONS IN THE FORTUNE 1000
- THE U.S. HAS NEVER HAD A FEMALE PRESIDENT
- THE U.S. HAS NEVER HAD A FEMALE VICE PRESIDENT
- WOMEN STILL MAKE ONLY 77 CENTS TO THE MAN’S DOLLAR
OHIO STATISTICS (my state):
- Ohio has never has a female U.S. Senator.
- Ohio has never had a female governor.
- Ohio’s female representation to the U.S. House is 16.67%.
- Ohio has eight female state senators. (24%)
- Ohio has 23 female state representatives. (23%)
- Ohio ranks #27 out of the 50 states for female representation in government.
- Ohio has only had 11 female U.S. Representatives in its entire history.
Forbes Magazine, Inter-Parliamentary Union, National Committee on Pay Equity, Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, Catalyst. See links on the right panel of this page.
In addition to these stats, my friend the amazing Anita Finlay sent this info:
The Fourth Estate offered up a study logging in 51,000 quotes from print and tv media in 2012 election coverage. Even in articles about women’s health coverage, men were quoted over women 5 to 1. In foreign policy and the economy, the numbers were 4 to 1 and 3 to 1. Male columnists outnumber females 2 to 1.
Men still control the narrative daily. In 2008/2010, women got 3 times as much coverage on their physical appearance as their male counterparts. Men got 68% more paragraphs written on the issues versus women. Automatically, this indicates that women are fluffy and to be taken less seriously.
In 2010 midterms, pollsters Kellyanne Conway and Celinda Lake discovered that women fared better when they fought back against sexist attacks. Staying silent or “above the fray” was devastating to the hopes of women candidates at the polls.
You can read more on these ideas from Anita here.
In the end, people need to made aware of these statistics. They override party affiliation. They override conventional wisdom, and only by facing the truth can we ever hope to rise above our current reality. I think we have a golden opportunity at hand RIGHT NOW when there is talk of a possible woman president in 2016 to open people's eyes to the truth. I go back to what Michele Bachelet, former president of Chile, said, and that is that nothing did more for the advancement of women in her country than having a female president. Nothing. Not laws, not anything else.
We need to stop waiting for someone else to make this happen for us and start being proactive. Share these stats with everyone you know and watch their disbelief!!