A woman’s place is in charge

Despite increasing numbers of women in public office, we still have a ways to go in terms of equal representation.


Kara Wagenknecht

Photo Editor Maddi Shinall ’19 poses for a photo as she displays her feminist slogan sweatshirt on Friday, Feb. 15.

I refreshed my Twitter feed while sitting in front of my living room TV on midterm election night, trying to get results as soon as they were available. I felt a growing sense of hope. At long last, it seemed there would be more women elected into office. More women were finally going to have a seat at the table.

The 2018 midterms saw a wave of women get elected into office. Over 100 women are currently serving in the 116th Congress — a record number. However, there is a lot of progress to be made to achieve fair female representation in our governing bodies.

The 102 women in the House of Representatives and the 25 women in the Senate make up 23.4 and 25 percent of their Congressional bodies, respectively. There are nine women who are currently serving as governor of their states, which makes up 18 percent of current governors.

But women make up 51 percent of the United States population. And therein lies the issue.

There is still a huge disparity between the percentage of women in Congress and in other political offices, and the percentage of women in the country. Our elected officials are supposed to represent those that elected them yet women are underrepresented in those very positions. If governing bodies are meant to represent the people, shouldn’t they be representative of the people?

If governing bodies are meant to represent the people, shouldn’t they be representative of the people?”

Representation matters. People should be able to look at their elected officials and see people like themselves. All different groups deserve to have a voice in the room, to have people who will stand up for the individualized issues that their groups face and ensure that they are a part of the conversation. That’s why we need more people of color in office, more people in the LGBTQ+ community in office and more people of various religions in office. That’s why we need more women in office. If our elected officials don’t accurately reflect the makeup of America, we can’t expect them to legislate in a way that accurately reflects all Americans.

It’s as simple as that.

But representation has been an ongoing problem in our country for decades. Historically, women have not been given a seat at the table. Political power has always been defined as decidedly male, and white male at that. Men have always been the ones deemed ‘worthy’ of power. For too long, women have been told to stay out of it, to wait for their turn. They’ve been told not to speak up, that their voices don’t matter. Now, women are fighting back against that patriarchal determination.

Women are just as worthy of power as men and they’re not holding back any longer. They’re marching in the streets, they’re calling up their representatives, they’re organizing and volunteering. They’re running for office and they are winning. Women today are furthering the work of their female predecessors, like that of the suffragettes, and are pushing on.

We need more women to be in political and leadership positions because they will stand up for issues that women care about.”

We need more women to be in political and leadership positions because they will stand up for issues that women care about. So-called “women’s issues” like paid family leave and access to reproductive healthcare services have historically been considered to be of lesser importance simply because they supposedly only affect women. With more women in office, maybe these “women’s issues” will finally be taken seriously as topics worthy of being part of the conversation.

Our country was built on the principles of representation and equality, that all peoples’ voices matter and that if you work hard you can do whatever you set your mind to, but women have been discouraged from these supposed ideals. Women deserve to have their voices heard in the national discourse just as much as men. Issues that affect them are just as important and worthy of conversation. Women are capable of being leaders and capable of leading effectively. Women are worthy of having equal representation and a seat at the table. And that’s why the world needs more women in charge.

Graphic by Sidney Kiersch