Apparently, the 2012 election was a ‘landmark’ victory for women, according to several reputable sources. I am non-plussed. I reckon headlines should read: “Women continue to trickle into politics” or “Men continue to overwhelmingly dominate politics.” 20 out of 100 spots in the Senate? LANDMARK? C’mon. I concede that we have made gains, but so have snails across a wet sidewalk.
Which leads me to a book I read recently, called “The End of Men and the Rise of Women” by Hanna Rosin. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever met me. And I know – it has been out for ages and it’s pretty much everywhere right now, so it’s not like I’m being original. But I may be unique in having reserved it four months ago. (Do keep in mind here that I have both a husband and a son whom I adore, so I am not necessarily excited about the end of men – just interested in the research she presents.)
Regardless of whether or not you believe Rosin, the numbers she presents are certainly eye-catching: The average American woman now contributes 42.2% of the family income verses 2 to 6% in 1970. Women earn almost 60% of all bachelor degrees and fully 60% of all masters degrees. Women also now hold 51.4% of managerial and professional positions. Rosin’s research is also mentioned, and debated, in an excellent article by Barnard College President Debora Spar called “Why Women Should Stop Trying to be Perfect.”
My entirely empirical evidence from teaching confirms the thrust of Rosin’s argument: Assign a group project, put one girl in a group of boys, and watch her run rings around them. So why aren’t women entering politics? Are they too overwhelmed just keeping their heads above water while working and raising children? Are they not interested in the corresponding ego bloat that seems to be required? Rosin’s title, no doubt designed to be eye-catching, does not exactly hold true when it comes to women in major leadership positions.
I decided to do a bit of research, which led me to the Women’s Campaign Fund. This, in turn, led me to the organization, She Should Run, and I got so excited that I forgot all about men. Women supporting women! Women getting all political! Yay! I will be commenting in depth in later posts on other organizations, such as EMILY’s List and, my favorite, MomsRising.
If we are to get involved, and if we are to ‘rise’ as Rosin says we might, we must be informed. We must own our decisions. We must be part of the conversation, and we must have more female leaders.
Now that the election circus is over, take the time to look around at the women in your life. Encourage them to get involved. And if you have money, support the groups that support women!