Women in politics: Does it matter?

By Reland Tuomi, Editor-in-Chief

Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., is the senator-elect for West Virginia. She is the first female senator for the state and has represented West Virginia’s second congressional district since 2001. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., is the senator-elect for West Virginia. She is the first female senator for the state and has represented West Virginia’s second congressional district since 2001. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

 

In the elections that took place last week, West Virginia and Iowa both elected their first woman to the U.S. Senate. Shelley Moore Capito will represent West Virginia and Joni Ernst will represent Iowa. Both women represent the Republican Party. But really, what took these states so long to vote for women?

The problem isn’t women, though women do need better representation. The problem is the representation of values and policies.

Women provide an alternative perspective men can’t, and for any national government to have full representation, women need to be a part of the conversation.

“It’s important to have equal representation. It’s important to have voices of all different kinds revolve around issues that are important,” said Sarah Smith, the president of Associated Students of Pacific Lutheran University. “It’d be great if we had more women in politics because it could lead to other women looking up to them and then them wanting to get involved in politics and engaging in those conversations.”

Jen Smith, director of the Women’s Center, agreed, saying the message is most important.
“Numbers are great, visibility is great, but what is more significant is the messages those candidates are bringing and the policies they support,” she said.
Of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives, only 79 representatives and three delegates are women, and of the 100 seats in the Senate, only 20 are filled by women.

If having women in democracy is so important, then why aren’t more women engaged in government affairs?

Sarah Smith said it’s because women who identify as feminists are more likely to vote for a man than a woman if they felt the man would better represent their needs. This creates a bit of a paradox, because gender equality should be represented in politics, but at the same time people want their issues represented and valued as well.

“It’s important to have all different identities represented in the government,” Sarah Smith said. “How accurate can representation be if it’s only by traditionally one type of person? Lack of accurate representation lacks accurate voice. A more accurate representation leads to a more effective government.”

So while it is great that more double-X chromosomes are coming into DC, what we really need to be aware of is the policies the politicians represent, the values they hold and if they will be a good fit for our government. 🅼

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