Happy International Women’s Day! Around the world, people are celebrating the power, value, and achievement of women, while bringing attention to many gender based inequalities that continue to pervade society today. In honor of this day, we revisit a 2012 op-ed from PPI Director of Domestic & Social Policy Anne Kim, “Elect More Women to End Gridlock.”
In her piece for The Hill, Kim argues that many female politicians are more likely to approach policy in a bipartisan manner than are their male colleagues from the same state. Kim backs up this point with studies suggesting that women tend more toward personality traits of “agreeableness” and cooperation on average than do men.
In spite of this valuable bipartisanship in public policy discussions, women still face barriers to holding political office. Kim explains that the United States still has a long way to go before reaching a congressional gender balance anywhere near equal, or even on par with many other countries globally. Additionally, many aspects of modern campaigning — including pressure to constantly fundraise, little privacy, and time away from family — tend to be particularly meaningful deterrents for women considering a run for office. Before women are adequately represented in U.S. political representation, Americans must grapple with these factors. In the past few years, a wave of powerful female candidates has become a key part of the American electoral landscape. Last year in Virginia alone, 11 of 15 House of Delegates seats flipped from Republicans to Democrats also flipped from a man to a woman. Hundreds of women are in the running for American congressional seats this year, a number on track to break records once official filings are finalized. In the context of the upcoming 2018 elections, Kim’s 2012 call for hope still rings true: “if enough women make it to Congress this November, they may indeed prove to be the better bridge builders and compromise brokers Washington desperately needs.”