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Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:15 AM

Women Govern Differently Than Men. Is it finally time for quotas in the US? [View all]


On a certain level, gender parity in government is an issue of democratic legitimacy: Women are a majority of the American electorate, and yet we have less female representation in government than most of the planet. (In a recent United Nations study of proportional gender representation in government, the U.S. ranked 78th, tied with Turkmenistan.) But according to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand — who has campaigned heavily for other female candidates in this election cycle and is likely to win reelection against a female opponent — the lack of skirts in the Senate is more than a symbolic concern. “My own experience in Congress is when women are on committees and at hearings, the nature of the discussion is different, and the outcomes are better — we reach better solutions, better decisions are made," she said a year ago. But in this election, with only eighteen women competing for seats, there’s hardly going to be a longer line at the Senate gallery’s ladies room; the House race is more optimistic, with 163 women on the ticket.


But defining what constitutes a “women’s issue” can be tricky. For a forthcoming paper on female lawmakers' effectiveness, three political scientists crunched all 138,246 bills introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives over the past four decades. They found women introduced twice as many bills on civil rights and liberties bills; many more on “family” concerns; and significantly more on labor, immigration, education, and health. In other words, it’s about much more than who is paying for my birth control. They note that despite a century of discussion about health-care policy, it took a female speaker of the House to make universal health care happen. Or as Nancy Pelosi herself has said, “It’s personal for women ... my sisters here in the Congress, this was a big issue for us.”


The bad news, though, is how rarely female initiatives turn into reality. Women’s-issues bills are the ones that see the highest gridlock rates. Overall, only 4 percent of bills become law (I, too, am singing Schoolhouse Rock! in my head, but bear with me), but a mere 2 percent of women’s bills ever make it through the process, like Lilly Ledbetter did. That’s only 1 in 50. “These are issues that the average member of Congress doesn't see as crucial,” the University of Virginia's Craig Volden, an author of the forthcoming paper, told me, underscoring a very real aspect of our democratic legitimacy problem.


When you look at the rest of the world, this crisis of confidence is madness. Five of Latin America’s current heads are women. For two decades, Argentina has maintained a quota of 30 percent female representation. Granted, Latin America is hardly a hotbed of gyno-liberalism; most of these female leaders are anti-abortion, line-toting Catholics. So let’s consider Europe, where women’s organizations met in Strasbourg this week to organize toward 50-50 parity in the next election, as the continent’s one-third representation is considered an outrage. It’s a poignant irony that when the United States helps fledgling governments outline their democracies and develop their constitutions, we emphasize the importance of full female inclusion in government; there’s a reason that, despite a close adherence to Islamic sharia, Iraq ranks about 40 slots before us on the U.N. list.


The situation in this country should be a huge embarrassment.

I think we might just need to move to quotas to move things forward.

I would love to hear some jackass say 'quotas are wrong, our current system is better'... look at the way this country treats its own citizens as compared to countries with voluntary political party quotas and tell me that our 'merit-based' system is doing a better job.

This is a great site to find out more about quotas: http://www.quotaproject.org/

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Reply Women Govern Differently Than Men. Is it finally time for quotas in the US? [View all]
redqueen Dec 2012 OP
cloudbase Dec 2012 #1
JTFrog Dec 2012 #2
BlueToTheBone Dec 2012 #4
JTFrog Dec 2012 #5
redqueen Dec 2012 #6
boston bean Dec 2012 #11
redqueen Dec 2012 #20
boston bean Dec 2012 #10
redqueen Dec 2012 #3
boston bean Dec 2012 #9
ismnotwasm Dec 2012 #15
backwoodsbob Dec 2012 #29
JoeyT Dec 2012 #7
ismnotwasm Dec 2012 #18
BlueToTheBone Dec 2012 #8
redqueen Dec 2012 #12
ismnotwasm Dec 2012 #13
redqueen Dec 2012 #21
msongs Dec 2012 #14
boston bean Dec 2012 #16
redqueen Dec 2012 #22
hack89 Dec 2012 #17
boston bean Dec 2012 #19
redqueen Dec 2012 #23
hack89 Dec 2012 #24
redqueen Dec 2012 #25
mercuryblues Dec 2012 #26
One_Life_To_Give Dec 2012 #27
Deep13 Dec 2012 #28
MineralMan Dec 2012 #30
ProudToBeBlueInRhody Dec 2012 #31