Strength in numbers
According to a report recently released by the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives might include a few more women representatives following this year’s election. A record number of women are running in the upcoming election for seats in the two houses of Congress — and this alone is reason for revel.
Women, especially in the higher echelons of state and national politics, have been woefully under-represented for much of the nation’s history. Women in 2012 hold just 90, or 16.8 percent, of the 535 seats in U.S. Congress. When looked at individually, women compose 17 percent of the Senate and 16.8 percent of the House of Representatives. Clearly, in a country that prides itself on values like equality and gender neutrality, these numbers are unacceptable.
But those numbers become even bleaker as one moves from the national level to the state level. New Jersey, for example, currently has no women in Congress. Despite the fact that the state’s population is 51.3 percent female, representation of such an overwhelming demographic remains missing. And when women are underrepresented in politics, it also means that the interests of women in general are underrepresented.
Equal representation, therefore, is not only something that should be desirable, but wholly necessary if we wish our political decisions to remain equitable for both ends of the gender spectrum. This surge in women candidates — 18 women running for seats on the Senate and 163 women running for the House of Representatives, according to the report — represents an important opportunity to tip the scales in a positive direction.
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