Sofia Hashi | Fulcrum Staff
DREAMING OF 24 Sussex Dr.? What about having a front row seat in the House of Commons—and I’m not talking about the press gallery. Statisically speaking, if these daydreams have popped into your mind, you’re a guy. With the current American elections featuring two male candidates (again), I started wondering why women don’t often run for public office.
Here in Canada, women account for just over half of the population. We’re also quickly becoming more educated than our male counterparts. According to Statistics Canada, 34 per cent of women aged 25 to 34 have earned a bachelor’s degree compared to 26 per cent of men. Not only are women beginning to out-graduate men, but the gap between the two in studying science and math has grown smaller. What have traditionally been considered male professions are now being practiced by women, too—doctors, lawyers, CEOs, you name it. So why is the political landscape so severely lacking the two X chromosomes?
“When women run, they fare just as well as men. The problem is that women aren’t recruited to run,” said Jennifer Lawless, the director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University as reported by Glamour magazine. Lawless couldn’t be more right, especially when we look into what’s going on in politics today. It’s widely known that there has never been a female American president and we can only boast one female prime minister here in Canada. Looking at the numbers in the House of Commons only reinforces this absence. As of 2008, only 22 percent of seats were held by women. This number is severely skewed in comparison to our country’s population. So what’s the problem? Why should our political turf be any different from our national landscape?
Think about it—if the gender gap in politics shortened, do you think the talks about bringing the whole abortion debate back to Parliament would’ve been possible? No. Instead of focusing on this discussion, politicians could be focusing on the economy, job markets, education, and other social reform.
More female political voices would also increase opportunities to examine issues like child support, access to education, and women’s rights. While there may be some exceptions to the rule, women can usually understand other women better than men can.
Women should be recruited to run and hold public office. There’s a lot we can attribute today to female politicians, and who knows what good a female prime minister could do in our country’s future? This isn’t about a massive battle of the sexes. It’s about the fact that it’s 2012 and we have yet to see a female prime minister actually elected to the position.
Instead of overlooking politics as a profession filled with dull policy decisions and middle-aged men in suits, let’s look at it collectively as a way to implement positive changes for future generations.
In Beyoncé’s prolific words, “Who run the world? Girls!” Let’s try to make this a reality, or at least have more women in politics.