There’s a new female president in Argentina. Benazir Bhutto is warming up on the sidelines in Pakistan. And Hillary claims she’s getting kicked around by the guys. Just where do female politicians stand?
Many would argue that there aren’t enough women in politics. Globally, the rate of female representation at the national level is 18 percent. (Source: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance)
The United States comes in under that global average. Women hold eighty-seven, or 16.3 percent of the 535 seats in the 110th U.S. Congress. (Source: Center for American Women in Politics)
The country with the most women in its lower or single house of government? It’s Rwanda, which has nearly an even split of women and men in its parliament, followed by Sweden at 47.3 percent. (Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union)
As of July 2007, there are only ten female Heads of State out of 189 governments. (Source: International Women’s Democracy Center)
In the U.S., there are currently nine female governors. To date, a total of thirty-five women (including sixteen currently) have served in the U.S. Senate. (Source: Center for American Women in Politics)
And yet, American women do vote. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 65 percent of women reported voting in the 2004 presidential election, as compared to 62 percent of their male counterparts.
And their votes are courted. In the past, it’s been the so-called soccer mom. In this election, it’s the unmarried female voter, dubbed the “Sex in the City voter,” who represent 26 percent of eligible voters. (Source: Women’s Voices. Women Vote.)
So what gives? Several studies, including one issued by the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University, have found that women are much less likely to run for public office because they are less likely to consider themselves as qualified, and they are less likely than men to receive encouragement to run.
They also have less money. According to the Women’s Campaign Forum, while women have registered to vote in higher numbers than men since the 1980 presidential election, and have voted at a higher rate than men in every federal election since 1984, they make up less than 30 percent of recorded federal political contributions to candidates, political action committees, and party committees.