Lack of faith in women’s ability to lead is holding America back

In Opinion
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Women have made strides in business and in politics, but not nearly enough to be considered on equal footing with their male counterparts. Men overwhelmingly rule—an ugly truth that still thrives. The lack of faith in women as leaders is discouraging qualified candidates and effectively preventing progress as a country.

On March 12 Cal State Fullerton professors addressed unbalanced playing fields in government at a panel called, “A Women’s Place in Politics.”

One speaker specifically addressed the 2016 elections, mentioning the many times President Donald Trump and his followers tried to undermine Hillary Clinton as a candidate by constantly questioning her mental capabilities.

“Honestly, I don’t think she’s all there,” Trump said during an August 6 rally.

Trump’s dialogue on women’s emotional strength was not only inaccurate, but also old and tired. Women are trusted to fight fires, protect the people of their communities and defend their country in war without hesitation, but there is still a lack of them in American government offices.

Without leadership from women in the country, decisions will remain one-sided. Stifling a female’s direction and input leaves men with all of the power, undermining half the population’s ability to voice their concerns.

Currently, there are 105 women in Congress, which is a little over 19 percent of the 535 total members and about 22 percent of California legislators, according to the Center for American Women in Politics.

That’s about 1 in 4 state legislators and 1 in 5 Congress members. Not to mention 100 percent of all U.S. presidents have been men.

Women are more likely to receive hesitation and higher expectations from voters, according to Pew Research Center. As a result, a lot of women still believe they are not good enough to run for offices, or worse, voters would choose a male candidate over them, despite their qualifications.

Women are much less likely than men to think they are qualified to run for office, are less likely to receive the suggestion from anyone to run for office and sadly, most women are still responsible for a majority of child care and household tasks, according to “Men Rule,” a study that examined the under-representation of women in politics.

The antiquated idea that men are meant to lead and women to stay at home is detrimental to the country’s growth. Women have proven their strength, competence and persistence time and time again, yet they are not taken seriously as candidates. It’s dull slurs like Trump’s, which demean women and their wherewithal, that allow the men to dominate government positions.

But there are inklings of change.

The current political makeup is the most diverse it’s been since the “Year of the Woman” in 1992 when there was a burst of women running for government positions. Many ran in response to the U.S. Senate Committee’s on the Judiciary’s treatment of Anita Hill when she testified about being sexually harassed by Justice Clarence Thomas.

There has already been an increase in 2018’s female candidates, possibly as a reaction to the 2016 elections and the year’s surge of women’s sexual harassment testimonies during the #MeToo movement. Even with massive female movements and the positive reception to women speaking out, America is behind in political gender equality.

America’s gender gap is not only unusual, but it contradicts the progressive ideals of the American people. More women need to be encouraged and empowered to run for government positions and men need to stop belittling women and see them as they are: equal counterparts.

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