Women. More Effective Politicians?

The lack of political parity in the United States is shocking.  Despite making up 51 percent of the United State’s population, women only hold 17 percent of Congressional seats and 23 percent of state elected offices around the country.

As Americans sat and watched debt ceiling negotiations between the President and House Speaker John Boehner, which ultimately led to the first credit downgrade our country as seen; one can’t help but ask how this situation and many others would have played out if women had been at the helm?

The role of women in American society is ever changing; from homemakers and motherhood to entrepreneurs and professional athletes the need for more women to hold public office is immense.

The most significant reason our country should seek greater gender equality in politics would be to ensure our political institutions looks like the makeup of our country and fully represent the issues and concerns of all citizens.

It would be easy to spew simple generalizations that can’t necessarily be scientifically proven; women are just smarter, are more patient, are better compromisers, and lack the same ego as their male counter parts.

But according to a study conducted by Sarah Anzia from Stanford University and Christopher Berry from the University of Chicago, women are more effective politicians.  Their study concluded women secure roughly 9 percent more spending from federal discretionary programs than congressmen, which amounts to a premium of about $49 million per year for districts that send a woman to Capitol Hill, and women sponsor and cosponsor more bills per congress than their male colleagues.

Anzia and Berry link the outperformance to the bias female candidates face while running for office. They argue the scrutiny female candidates face expel those contenders who are not the most talented and hardest working. As a result only the absolute most qualified and politically ambitious females will remain.

Ultimately, it is clear to a majority of Americans that our country is in crisis.  The most recent jobs report indicates that millions of Americans are still unemployed.  Blaring news headlines specify millions of families are facing home foreclosure and the strong middle class that once carried this country are slipping further and further into poverty.   Like so many other states around the country the state of Illinois faces a multibillion-dollar budget deficit and an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent.

The need for bold and effective leadership is needed now more than ever. In order to move this country out of steady decline and turmoil, our elected officials must show a combination of competence, clarity, efficiency, and decisiveness.

Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland said it best, “women are actually more inclined towards that more modern leadership, which is collaborative problem-solving, enabling, consultative.”



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