BIPP: Still not sitting at the table or in the Oval Office

Nikki Marrone, BIPP Intern

Washington has a big problem with women. Women only received the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920; since then, a woman has still not been elected President of the United States of America. This is not because we have a lack of qualified women in this country – there is no shortage of women who have the ideas and the capacity to affect change on a broad scale. Rather, it is the swelling public opinion circulating in Washington that has made it clear to women: you are not welcome at this table and you are certainly not welcome in the Oval Office.

In a nationally representative survey conducted by the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy (BIPP), respondents were asked to evaluate the statement: “It’s time to elect more female leaders to important positions.” When stratified by party identification, the partisan effect on the responses to women in politics becomes evident. Only 78 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of Republicans agreed with the statement. In juxtaposition, four percent of Democrats and 25 percent of Republicans disagreed with the statement.

Respondents were also asked to assess the statement: “World leaders won’t respect a female President.” The results showed that 21 percent of Democrats and 35 percent of Republicans agreed with this statement while 61 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of Republicans disagreed with this statement. Evidently, the issue of the lack of women in politics is not excluded from the ongoing partisan divide.

These results are cause for alarm for any woman considering a career in politics, let alone running for President of the United States. There is a reason why everyone knows who Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nikki Haley are. While each of these women is exceptionally talented individuals, they are well-known – accomplishments aside – by virtue of being women. That is not to discount their accomplishments in any way, but to illuminate the ways in which we have tokenized women in politics while depriving them of seats at the table in Washington. The percentage of individuals who agree with the statement “It’s time to elect more female leaders to important positions” should be 100 percent, regardless of party identification.

Are there electability issues? We never talk about electability when considering men for the presidency. The people who believe that “world leaders won’t respect a female president,” are just promulgating a harmful narrative that tells women they aren’t fit for the Oval Office. Moving forward, it is evident there is work to be done in order to increase the number of women in Washington and create the reality in which we elect the first woman President of the United States of America.

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