A record number of female candidates announced that they would be running for the 2020 presidential election, nearly 100 years after women were given the right to vote in the U.S.
The historic number of female presidential candidates follows the 2018 midterm elections that saw a record number of female representation in both chambers of Congress: 24 women elected to the U.S. Senate, and 102 women elected to the House of Representatives.
“A good thing that I think came out of Hillary (Clinton) losing the presidency is a lot more women got involved in politics and the more women got involved. The more we’re changing what it means to be a woman candidate, the more we’re changing what it means to be a leader,” said Natalie Fousekis, director of the Lawrence de Graaf Center for Oral and Public History.
The female candidates running for the 2020 presidential election are Senators Kamala Harris, D-CA, Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard, D-Honolulu. Aside from elected officials, Marianne Williamson, an award winning author and spiritual leader, is running in the Democratic party.
Fousekis said that the candidates, though all Democrats so far, are not only many, but varied. Unlike the 2016 election, where Clinton was the only Democratic female option, moderate to progressive women voters can choose a candidate that is female and that more closely aligns with their political views.
“To somebody who lives in California, someone very surrounded in diversity, I think Kamala Harris has a lot of appeal. I think if you’re somebody who is more of a moderate, I think an Amy Klobuchar or a Kirsten Gillibrand might have appeal. If you’re a progressive and you’re not so taken by Bernie Sanders, then I think Elizabeth Warren is somebody you’re interested in,” Fousekis said.
Breanna Arroyo, a junior psychology major, said she is rooting for Kamala Harris in the 2020 election.
“Strong women and men just don’t think we can do much, but we can, and I think definitely she has a shot of winning this presidency because she’s determined (and) hard working,” Arroyo said.
Brooke Paz, president of CSUF Republicans, said the presidency should be determined by policy and not gender or race.
“What we really need to be looking at are people’s policies, their viewpoints, their history, their voting records, if they have been a politician before; things like that. I think that’s what really matters,” Paz said.
Other students said a female president will bring a new perspective to the White House.
“The way (women) just think and decide things is different. The things we care about. I think it is important because, also, the population in general isn’t just male, so to have someone who understands the other perspective is good,” said Sasha Ramirez, a business major.
Jesse Sun, a music education major, said that America is still a male- dominant society but is slowly progressing.
“It’s still pretty male dominant here, especially in America. I think it’s hard to overcome that obstacle when it’s been a thing for so long,” Sun said. “Gradually it has changed a little bit to make it more equal for each gender, which I think is really good. We’re still working on it.”
At Cal State Fullerton, Associated Students currently has an all-female executive team.
Saba Ansari, ASI vice president, said it’s important to have female representation in leadership roles.
“I think historically we haven’t been given the opportunity to lead. It’s necessary to have all viewpoints and for us to advocate for women in general,” Ansari said.
Canada and countries in Asia, South America, Europe, Oceania and Africa have all had female heads of states at some point since the 1960s, according to CNN.
“I think we have a very male version of what it means to be in charge and a leader, and we compare our women against men, and we shouldn’t be doing that,” Fousekis said.
— Sophia Acevedo (@sophieacvdo) March 25, 2019
Fousekis said she is waiting to make definitive predictions about whether a female will be the next president, and how she would provide a different image of leadership.
“We’ve never had a female president, so we don’t even know what that looks like. I think having a woman leader at that level will say to every young woman in this country, ‘(You) could be the most powerful person in the world,’” Fousekis said.