Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hard times help women in politics?

Sexism is a double edged sword, and in every imaginable situation, women seem to be getting shortchanged due to this concept. In a recent news article, the author suggests that in the political world, we see that in some cases, voters will point to a woman running for office and consider her to be weak because she doesn't live up to the masculine expectations society holds of effective leaders. In turn, voters refuse to accept her as a viable candidate. In other cases, a female politician might be looked upon as a caring individual that would be more concerned about the people and their issues. The latter seems to be the case with Queensland's Anna Bligh, who is on her way to becoming Australia's first elected woman premier. The article insinuates that during hard times such as those being faced by Australia seem to be the perfect conditions for a woman to come and and "clean up the mess" left behind by her male predecessor.

PhD researcher Mary Crawford was quoted saying that "research suggests that while women politicians don't pursue a different style, voters perceive their interests are different - that they are more likely to be concerned with the daily concerns of people, like jobs, food prices, education and so on." Unfortunately, the situation isn't that simple, especially when we take the recent United States presidential election into consideration. Taking into account the weak state of the economy and the hard times we are facing as a society today, why is it that Crawford's theory didn't hold true? Americans had two opportunities to elect a female candidate, and chose to cote for males in both situations.

Preconceived notions about how a female candidate would lead as a politician continue to thwart any progress our nation can hope to one day achieve in terms of gender equality. Women have always been looked down upon by men as the "weaker" gender. As much as the people of this country go on talking about equality and acceptance, the truth is that even though we are living in the 21st century, our underlying ideals and stereotypes seem to resemble those which Americans held almost a century ago. If we truly want to see ourselves taking a step in the direction of equality, we have to set aside this discrimination.

1 comment:

stephkasten said...

It makes sense that in some cases voters turn to female leaders to improve national disasters. In times of trouble, we are more likely to turn to a new and innovative source of influence, and because men outnumber women in terms of government leadership, female guidance may be seen as rare, different, and potentially able to offer reparation for a country's problems. Additionally, women are often seen as nurturers, and this may help their ability to aid a nation's citizens.