Why politics need women

Libby Grygar, Staff Writer

The term “glass ceiling” gets bandied around quite a bit nowadays, both in political and business circles, but what does it actually mean? Well, its technical dictionary definition is “an unfair system or set of attitudes that prevents women from getting the powerful jobs.” But the reality of how it affects women can’t be fully explained by a dictionary definition.

Since the very earliest days of civilization, it has been necessary for women to be involved in government. The list of the most effective women rulers throughout history that are women include such important historical figures as Cleopatra of Egypt, Elizabeth I Queen of England, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom, and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, also from the very earliest days of civilization, women who have ruled or participated in government have been denied credit or been classified as “special cases” and not the norm when it comes to women rulers.

But if you need any explanation on why it is important to have women in politics, you need look no further than Saudi Arabia, the undisputed champion of disenfranchising women. In Saudi Arabia, women cannot drive, must be beholden to a male guardian, and can’t even compete in sports.

Whenever women, or any group for that matter, are not represented, the tendency is to repress that group, because they have no power in government. Sure, men can help push for women’s rights, but I don’t think anyone would argue that women are the best choice for representing women.

But it’s also important to have women participate, not only lead, in government. And in the United States there’s been some good progress made on that front. In 1938 the first woman, Hattie Caraway, was elected to the U.S. Senate. In 1981 Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court, and in 1997 Madeline Albright became the first woman Secretary of State.

Truly, all these examples are terrific cases of women fighting for and gaining representation in U.S. government, but the real goal is to make women in politics the norm, not the exception. So, what’s the best way to go about increasing the number of women in politics? The simple answer is education. Young girls need to see themselves as being just as qualified, if not more qualified, as their male counterparts. The more complicated answer is that our culture needs to start seeing women as just as commonplace in politics as men, and effectively start to work towards removing gender as a barrier to holding public office and government power.

It’s been proved many times throughout history, especially in modern times, that women are an essential part of a well functioning, representative government. Instead of being pushed to the margins, women should be elected to positions where they can better help their country whether it be on a federal, state, or even local level. The glass ceiling is cracking, and with a little more pressure, it’ll shatter completely.