Sexism in Politics

With female voters outnumbering male voters (more than 50 percent of voters are women), one might think that women could easily take over in political arenas. However, sociologists note that many women have hesitated to enter the world of politics, believing it to be too corrupt or a “good old boy” activity. Also, women who enter political office must contend with “dammed‐if‐you‐do‐or‐don't” standards. Women politicians may be viewed as inattentive wives and mothers. If women are avid family members, then they are viewed as inattentive public servants. Men politicians, on the other hand, do not normally have to confront such double standards.

Although men still control political parties, a growing number of women are attaining high political offices. Still, women hold only about 5 percent of all political offices, so the situation is far from balanced. Since the 1990s, increasing numbers of women have entered the political races for the Senate, House, and the office of State Governor. Today, women are more encouraged to enter a race as large numbers of male incumbents leave office. They may be more likely to win for reasons of public credibility, especially when they run against politicians who are lacking in integrity. Women also tend to attract voters who also support issues like child welfare, national health care, protection of the environment, and abortion rights.

Perhaps more importantly, though, women have been exercising more and more political clout as voters. Beginning in the 1980s, the percentages of voting women have surpassed those of men. Because women tend to vote for more liberal candidates who support social programs than do men, they have the potential to heavily influence the outcomes of elections.

In short, women are making strides, but also have a long way to go before reaching equality with men in the world of politics.