Days when women were only wives and mothers are far behind us and females are now occupying top positions in the world of business and in the political arena. The US democratic society is one of illustrations of empowerment of women. However, there is still a lot of prejudice in the world and not many women are in politics. Besides, they started entering this arena in 1970s only (Fox and Lawless 398). Being a female who wants to run for a political office in the state or federal level, I would consider a number of things. It is possible to identify five major factors for a female to pay attention to before starting a successful political career.
We will write a custom Essay on Empowerment of Women specifically for you
301 certified writers online
First, a woman has to choose her priorities and decide whether she can balance her family life and political career. Recent research suggests that trying to balance job responsibilities and family roles has become a “part of the bargain for contemporary women” as (Fox and Lawless 413). A woman spend more time bringing up children and completing household routines. Hence, if a female has a family, she should carefully think whether she could be satisfied with the time spent with her family and whether she could be able to complete her professional tasks.
Even though a woman may have no family at the moment of starting her political career, she should still consider the possibility of balancing between family and professional responsibilities in future. A man does not have to consider this as even if he has a family he can devote as much time to his political career as he used to before having a family. The woman has to try to predict certain scenarios and decide whether she can start her career and whether she will be able to pursue it in the future.
The second important factor to take into account is one’s past. The film The Contender (2000) shows that a mere suspicion of inappropriate behavior at any stage of the woman’s life can lead to a scandal and bring the political career to its end. Thus, Laine Hanson questions herself as well as the public whether any episode from a person’s private life can matter. She thinks that even asking questions concerning certain episodes of one’s life is impossible (The Contender). However, the public needs to know everything to make the right choice and give votes to the rights person.
Some may note that a politician’s past is important for both male and female candidates. Nonetheless, the film suggests (as well as numerous examples from the real life) that females are often under double pressure. People tend to meticulously examine any detail from a female politician’s life to prove that the candidate will not fit the office.
For instance, in the film The Contender, a rival of the female politician did not believe she could be an effective vice president and tried to find some facts that could spoil her reputation. Therefore, before going into politics, a woman has to consider her past and decide whether she will be able to respond to certain questions that can be asked by her rivals or the public in the future.
The third factor to pay attention to is the sociocultural environment. It is found that female politicians’ success is often defined by the public opinion (Windett 460). In some states, the environment is more favorable for women pursuing their political careers as people tend to believe that females positively affect development of the US society through contributing to and launching effective policies. In other states, people are more conservative and still tend to support male politicians as there is a belief that females are less effective leaders. This trend has been formed for decades in different states and it can be difficult to change people’s opinions.
Hence, a female starting her political career has to make sure that she will gain the necessary support and that the sociocultural environment is favorable. Clearly, this does not mean that females can run for the office in a limited number of states. However, it is necessary to examine the public opinion and take into account all possible obstacles and points to focus on.
The fourth factor that can have a significant impact on the female’s choice is the qualities she has. Thus, Burns, Eberhardt and Merolla note that a successful female politician has to have both feminine and masculine features of character (688). The politician has to be competitive and compassionate, reasonable and intuitive at the same time. There has long been a belief that females with masculine features can enter the US (and any other country’s) political arena. However, it is now clear that people do not expect a woman to be a ‘tough guy’ any more.
Voters now want to see that a female politician will display such female traits as compassion and empathy. Contemporary people do not want strict measures only as they tend to see that politicians care about people and do not see them as mere numbers on the paper (Burns, Eberhardt and Merolla 692). Therefore, having truly feminine qualities will positively affect the female politician’s image and will bring her more votes.
Admittedly, this makes revisiting one’s qualities really important for a novice politician. Therefore, a woman should make sure that she could be an inspiring and effective leader. She should be a good problem-solver and she should have a vision. However, the woman politician should also reveal her feminine qualities and show her care about people. It is noteworthy that this is not only about the woman’s future behavior. The woman who wants to run for the office should also look behind and think whether she acted in a way revealing her feminine traits. Clearly, if a woman has obtained an image of a robot (though it may be an efficient robot), people will hardly believe that the woman changed dramatically and became thoughtful and empathetic. Again, a politician’s past is very important.
The fifth factor is closely connected with the third and fourth ones. Thus, the woman who wants to run for the state as well as federal office should understand which post she could get. Thus, researchers note that in the modern Congress, more than 15% of the US Senators are women but there has never been a female president in the country (Smith, Paul and Paul 225). Americans are simply unprepared for a woman to be a president of the United States. For instance, Hillary Clinton is a good example of this unpreparedness. The woman may be an inspiring leaders and effective manager but Americans do not believe she is professional enough to be the first person in the country. There is still certain bias and people want to see a man as their leader.
In Congress, women are seen as those who give voices to certain groups of people. Women are regarded as effective helpers who can assist men to cover all issues. Hence, Americans give their votes for female Senators.
Admittedly, a woman who intends to run for the office in a state or especially federal level should consider this factor. She should think whether she can be successful and whether Americans will be ready to give their votes. Perhaps, it will be wiser to wait and/or start political career in a state level. Of course, this factor should not be regarded as an insuperable hindrance. Nonetheless, the woman should understand that she might face specific obstacles to be able to overcome them.
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
In conclusion, it is possible to note that a woman who intends to start her political career has to take into account at least five factors. She should make sure she will be able to balance her family life and political career, she has a decent past, there is a favorable sociocultural environment, she has the necessary qualities and, finally, she has manageable goals (she can get the post she aims at). If a woman considers everything carefully and decides she really wants it and she can do it, she should start her political career. However, if there are any doubts, the female has to think twice and, perhaps, wait for some time and start her political career later or forget about it.
It is necessary to note that gender gap has existed for centuries and now it still persists even though it might have decreased. As for political power of males and females, the gap has also become less apparent. Thus, women can vote. More so, they can run for a political office and even be US Senators. At the same time, there is unlikely to be a woman president in the nearest future in the USA. People simply do not think that a woman can cope with such responsibilities. Americans tend to trust men who have been running the country since its first days.
In the first place, it necessary to define the gender gap. Some researchers refer to gender gap as an attitude of institutions that is much “gendered to the disadvantage of women” (Navarro 5). It is stressed that “institutional leaders take this disadvantage for granted and understand traditional procedures and practices as “neutral” (Navarro 5). Therefore, it is possible to identify two particular features of the concept.
In the first place, gender gap is disproportionate allocation of power among men and women. Some tasks as well as posts are assigned to men and gender becomes the most important factor considered when choosing among candidates. Decision-makers often ignore such things as professionalism, knowledge, experience, skills, and personal qualities of a female candidate. Thus, women have fewer opportunities and men dominate the political arena of the USA.
Apart from this, the concept of gender gap include another important element. People’s support of the bias and prejudice is an important component of the concept. The American society is still inclined to think that the gender gap can be justified. Men and (quite surprisingly) women often think that females will not be able to become effective political leaders. Hence, lots of women do not even try pursuing a political career.
There are numerous factors that contribute to a gender gap. It is possible to single out two major factors. One is dominance of men in the highest levels of the political arena. Men are major decision-makers and the vast majority of men are reluctant to give more power to women for different reasons. Some may think women are not professional enough like in the film The Contender. Others simply do not like the idea of giving more power to a woman as they think females belong to their homes and families.
In fact, this trend persists today even though President Obama is the first one to bring a great deal of diversity to his office and assign women to very high posts (Navarro 1). Nevertheless, Obama can be regarded as an exception rather than rule. Even though there are many female politicians, they often have to complete simple projects and do not often get a place in the committees they would like to sit (Frisch and Kelly 1). Clearly, decision-makers (who are often men) are reluctant to give more power to women.
It is possible to explain this dominance and reluctance to share power. Governors did not use to have real power and they only could “sign the receipt” for their salaries (Barth and Ferguson 64). In the course of time, they obtained more and more power. Now they are accustomed to this amount of power and they are unwilling to share it.
Another factor that contributes to a gender gap is rooted in the component of the concept. The US society is still patriarchal and Americans are brought up (and bring up their children) focusing on corresponding principles. Men are still regarded as leaders while women are assigned caring roles (wives, educators, nursing practitioners and so on). The US political arena is a very transparent field where these principles rule. Male politicians are more powerful than their female counterparts are.
This trend is also apparent in other fields associated with politics. For instance, bloggers writing on political issues can be compared to politicians. Male bloggers are seen as more knowledgeable and experienced while female bloggers are not often taken seriously (Johnston, Friedman and Peach 270). Again, bloggers’ expertise and experience become a secondary factor as their writing is evaluated on the basis of their gender. Likewise, female politicians are doomed to seem less professional simply due to cultural peculiarities of the US society. Girls are still taught to be real women and perfect wives/mothers or maximum business ladies through media. Men are still heroes and perfect leaders for the vast majority of Americans and this is also achieved with the help of media.
Clearly, female politicians are under constant pressure and increased attention (of their male counterparts, media, voters and so on). The public opinion is not in favor of women in politics but females can achieve a lot in the near future. It is clear that even though Americans still tend to trust male politicians more, these views slightly change as more and more women enter the office.
Hence, one factor that will contribute to empowerment of women in the political arena is the change of the public opinion. Women are now proving that they are capable of making correct decisions and being effective and inspirational leaders. Examples of other countries where female politicians (and even presidents) are efficient decision-makers is also promising. At the same time, women have to do a lot to gain people’s trust.
One of the first things to do to change the public opinion is to make sure that women politicians have diverse projects and address issues of different groups of people. At present, it is believed that women can focus on particular issues of specific groups (Niven and Zilber 147). For instance, some believe that there should be women in the US Congress as they will lobby interests of women, children and so on.
However, female politicians cover diverse issues and contribute greatly to solving problems. It is time to make people see that and acknowledge that women have become efficient political leaders who can solve various issues. Women should gain adequate coverage in media as media often distort facts and the image of a female politician. Thus, females should take part in programs, use technology and communicate with people to let them know that women are capable of leading the country.
On balance, it is possible to note that the gender gap still exists in the US political arena as it is seen as a norm that women are allowed to tackle only particular issues and run only specific projects. More so, women often think this is a normal way to distribute gender roles as they are taught to focus on other fields (family life, sport, fashion, cinematography, business and so on). However, women are capable of having it all. They only need to change the way they are seen by the public. Women have to show Americans that they can and already complete a variety of serious and important projects that make a difference and contribute to the development of the American society.
Barth, Jay and Margaret R. Ferguson. “Gender and Gubernatorial Personality.” Women & Politics 24.1 (2002): 63-82. Print.
Burns, Sarah, Lindsay Eberhardt and Jennifer L. Merolla. “What Is the Difference Between a Hockey Mom and a Pit Bull?: Presentations of Palin and Gender Stereotypes in the 2008 Presidential Election.” Political Research Quarterly 66.3 (2013): 687-701. Print.
Fox, Richard L. and Jennifer L. Lawless. “Reconciling Family Roles with Political Ambition: The New Normal for Women in Twenty-First Century U.S. Politics.” The Journal of Politics 76.2 (2014): 398-414. Print.
Frisch, Scott A. and Sean Q. Kelly. “A Place at the Table: Women’s Committee Requests and Women’s Committee Assignments in the US House.” Women & Politics 25.3 (2003): 1-26. Print.
Johnston, Anne, Barbara Friedman and Sara Peach. “Standpoint in Political Blogs: Voice, Authority, and Issues.” Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 40.1 (2011): 269-298. Print.
Navarro, Sharon A. “Moving on up: The Political Incorporation of Hispanic Women into the Federal Judiciary of Texas.” Latino Studies 0.0 (2012): 1-17. Print.
Niven, David and Jeremy Zilber. “How Does She Have Time for Kids and Congress?” Women & Politics 23.1-2 (2001): 147-165. Print.
Smith, Jessi L., David Paul and Rachel Paul. “No Place for a Woman: Evidence for Gender Bias in Evaluations of Presidential Candidates.” Basic and Applied Social Psychology 29.3 (2007): 225-233. Print.
The Contender. Dir. Rod Lurie. Universal City, CA: DreamWorks Pictures. 2000. DVD.
Windett, Jason Harold. “State Effects and the Emergence and Success of Female Gubernatorial Candidates.” State Politics & Policy Quarterly 11.4 (2011): 460-482. Print.