Female representation in Senate has continued to grow and has reached record numbers. The 113th Congress that convenes in January will have 20 female senators and at least 81 female representatives. Additionally, New Hampshire will be sending an all female delegation to Congress, the first state to accomplish this in the United States. Also the South Carolina senate, which was the only all-male state legislator chamber, now has a female senator. Many Americans saw this election season to reflect the forward strides women have taken towards equality and empowerment. The hopes that this congress will be able to more accurately reflect the needs of American women, children, single mothers, lower income homes, and other populations that are disadvantaged remain high. However, the reality of the situation is we still have a far ways to go.
According to a recently conducted “study of women’s participation in political decision-making groups” published by NY Times, women in these capacities not only were more likely to address the needs of more vulnerable populations domestically, but also have the power to significantly reshape politics only when they have a parity with men. The gender dynamics determined by this study are as follows; “women constituted 20 percent of a decision-making body that operates by majority rule, the average woman took up only about 60 percent of the floor time used by the average man. Women were perceived as more quiescent and less effective. They were more likely to be rudely interrupted; they were less likely to strongly advocate their policy preferences; and they seldom mentioned the vulnerable.”
I found this study to give a reasonable voice to a cultural concern that is hard to recognize. It is hard to deny the impact strong female leadership has had on this world Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, and Indira Ghandi are all key examples. However, these women had the backing and love of their nations whereas the women in lawmaking capacities often have to band together for the support they need. The voice of women has the ability to change the political playing field as we know it. However, are we ready for this change? As more and more women are elected into positions of power their presence and achievements will go beyond face value.