Essay on Women in Congress: Who are They?
“I really want women to know their power, to value their experience. To understand that nothing has ever been more wholesome in the political process than the increased involvement of women”(Nancy Pelosi). Nancy Pelosi is a woman who has overcome adversity at every corner of her career. She is currently the Speaker of the House and is serving her third term, her first two being in 2007-2011. She has had to break down walls of stigma and sexism throughout her climb in politics. But through it all she has shone brightly as a beacon of hope and has been a role model for countless women and girls. And she has opened a door for a large shift in the American government. There needs to be more women in Congress because they have a positive impact on America by creating positive role models for young girls, helping to cover a broader scheme of topics and because there is currently gender inequality in politics.
Women in Congress have a positive impact on America because they create positive role models for the young women of America. The above mentioned Nancy Pelosi is a prime example of a positive role model. It is extremely crucial for young people to have role models to look up to. An Australian Newspaper Newcastle Herald explains that young people act, dress and behave like their role models, and are more likely to choose role models of the same gender as them (Newcastle Herald). While boys in America have a plethora of people to look up to in politics and sometimes have a political figure as a role model, such as a president, it is far less likely for a girl to have a political figure as a role model. Not because the women currently in politics aren’t admirable, but simply because America lacks female politicians. Growing up I would not have been able to name a single woman in politics, but if asked to name a man in politics, I would have been able to name off a couple people like Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bruce Rauner, and the list goes on. So if we want the next generation of females in America to have a stronger sense of ambition, leadership and self worth they need to be able to see people like themselves in the forefront of this country.
Additionally, women in Congress have a positive impact on America because they tend to focus on topics that their male colleagues overlook. It is no secret that women and men have different priorities and primary concerns; this is also true in Congress. Researchers at Washington Post have found that women in Congress focus on the topics of health, education, family, housing, labor and civil rights. While men focus on the topics of agriculture, energy and macroeconomic policy (Volden). But furthermore by having diversity in Congress other issues than just the ones men focus on can be adequately addressed.
Along with the people currently in Congress who realize the increase of female representation can improve America, such as Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa, as she said “I am optimistic because I believe that what that kind of diversity will bring is problem solving” (Viebeck). With the inclusion of more women in Congress, we can work for a more equal treatment of issues that could be classified as “women’s issues”. In addition to this, studies show the last time “women’s issues” were treated equally to “men’s issues” was when Nancy Pelosi was the Speaker of the House. So prospects are looking up for women in Congress as Nancy Pelosi has returned for her third term.
In contrast, some people argue that there is already enough women representation in Congress; however that statement is not factually correct. In Congress the vast majority is male. Today women make up 23 percent of the house. And in the last 21 Congresses only 10 women held committee chairmanships making up less than 3 percent of chair positions (Volden). In no light is this equality or enough representation of females. As women make up about half of the population of America it would make sense that our government would reflect that, but the statistics above paint a drastically different picture. Nonetheless, some will still argue that there is no reason for women to be in Congress because gender equality is protected by law, but recent studies show that white women make 77 cents for every dollar a white man makes (Volden). Not only that, but the numbers get even more drastic when you compare racial minorities. Women still have much to fight and advocate for in this country
In conclusion, America can only gain from having more female representation in Congress. They create great role models for the younger generation, they help cover issues that otherwise would be discarded and they still have plenty of work to do when it comes to women’s rights. More women in Congress could set up a completely different dynamic in America. One where young girls see themselves running the country and truly believe that because she can I can. One where “women’s issues” are just as popular as “men’s issues” in the House. And finally one that we can truly say that women have enough representation in politics. I want to conclude with another quote from Speaker Pelosi “Maybe it will take a woman to clean up the House”.