Women and Politics

A blog from WCF about the state of women and politics

Broken Government? Add more women.

It’s like an endless montage of network news gaffes on the Daily Show: Broken government, broken government, broken government. Only this isn’t so hilarious.

As Americans scramble to make ends meet and wait on bated breath for health care reform, they’re bombarded by accusations of who’s to blame for this mess. Democrats? Bush? Obama? The GOP?

Well, how about men? Considering they’re 83% of Congress, that’s a large group to blame. But it seems our Congresswomen would tend to agree with this sentiment. As Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1) shared last month:

“We go to the ladies room and we just roll our eyes at what’s being said out there. And the Republican women said when we were fighting over the health care bill, if we sent the men home, we could get this done this week.”

Shea-Porter has been raked over the coals for this comment, with many calling it sexist. But PunditMom on MOMocrats asks,

“Is it sexist if it’s true? For the most part, women are the ones dealing with care-giving issues for children, parents, in-laws, sisters, and extended family. How can lawmakers really weigh in on what’s needed to address these issues unless they’ve got first-hand experience with some of them?”

With men being over 4/5 of Congress, doesn’t math prove that they’re responsible for the majority of the deadlock? After all, it was the women who stood together against the Stupak and Nelson amendments. It’s the women’s organizations banding together to ensure that health care reform actually helps women and doesn’t strip away any existing rights.

With research rising about women’s positive impact on corporations, boards, and elected offices, it seems some are embracing the need to add more women to government…just not the U.S. As Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand alluded to in 2009, women tend to run for office because they want to get something done, while men just assume they can do the job and enjoy the blood sport of politics.

In a Washington Post article, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman pointed to research showing that Fortune 500 companies with more women at the top outperformed those that didn’t.

“Gender stereotypes aren’t politically correct, but the research broadly finds that testosterone can make men more prone to competition and risk-taking. Women, on the other hand, seem to be wired for collaboration, caution and long-term results.”

Research from the National Council for Research on Women confirms this, saying that women consider different issues and are more collaborative while making decisions, which leads to more win-win outcomes. But this can’t happen when there aren’t enough women at the table.

“When women do reach decision-making positions, it is not until they constitute a critical mass upwards of 30% that they are no longer perceived as representative of a special interest, but rather as full members of the group.”

And the current state of Congress proves this perfectly. With women only holding 17%, their thoughts and suggestions can easily be marginalized and ignored. We have 90 amazing women between the House and Senate, but despite their exemplary ideas and leadership, they can’t overcome their minority status.

So yes – maybe we should send the men home if we want to emerge from this quagmire any time soon. You don’t have to send them all home – just 355 to make it even: 90 women and 90 men.

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One Response to “Broken Government? Add more women.”

  1. May 5th, 2011 at 11:00 am

    1116098 says:

    1116098 beers on the wall.