Breaking the Glass Ceiling of Gender in Politics

Editor’s Note: The Millennial Voices series is written by and for Millennials to foster nonpartisan discussion. Katie McBeth is a millennial writer from Boise, Idaho. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

How can the gender discussion appeal to bipartisan perspectives?

Most people find that gender discussions and equality tend to left-leaning issue. However, there are ways both parties can benefit from the dismantling of gender barriers. Some necessary steps towards breaking the gender divide are quite simple, like adding changing stations to men’s restrooms. Other aspects are - understandably - a bit more complex.

Although the “pursuit of happiness” is a part of our motto, the United States seems to only allow it for cis-gendered men. Women, trans individuals, and those on the spectrum of gender are often barred from truly pursuing their dreams. Something as simple as identity is inadvertently more complex due to our rigid insistence on using a gender binary system. Some of this is due to government - such as the recent ruling in North Carolina - and some of this is due to outdated mentalities on the issue. Luckily social media is helping us accept different perspective, especially for young users between the ages of 15 to 35.

Equal pay is a commonly tossed-around phrase when discussing the gender barrier, but why is it so essential? Well, according to a recent study, women are losing upwards of $500 BILLION dollars (collectively) each year to the pay wage gap. Currently there are 535 seats in Congress, which means 100 seated women is less than 20% of the collective voices making some of the most critical decisions for our country. Considering the majority of the population identified as female on their census in 2010, this figure is a bit staggering.

So what would the future look like if more women were a part of the political system? One way we can find out is by looking at other sectors. Large corporations have found that adding women to the conversation is beneficial for business. Women bring in new perspectives and fresh ideas to the table. When it comes to politics, increasing the number of women involved would undoubtedly create better discourse, new perspectives, and potentially more action.

How can millennials change the perspective?

Making a difference in American politics goes beyond simply participating in elections. Yes, voting is very important, both in the main elections and the local elections. However, there are other vital steps leading up to those important Tuesdays throughout the nation.

One such step is researching candidates that are interested in the gender issues that we face today. Although it is rare, there are times when women politicians do not have women’s issues on the top of their priority list, so voting strictly for women politicians is not always the wisest choice.

Once you’ve researched the candidates, take the extra step in actually supporting their campaign: canvas for them!  Hand out buttons, talk about their policies with people that are interested, and make sure to sign up for political party volunteer shifts.

In California, one millennial is doing her best to make sure her voice is heard among politicians. Erin Schrode (D) is only 25 years old and running for the US Congressional seat for California District 2. According to her campaign video, her focus is on education reform, the pay gap, and the growth of green energy programs. Erin is helping to forge a path for millennials to become politicians, and harnessing the gender discussion as a means to execute change in our political structure. You go, girl.

If you find that through volunteering and campaigning that your heart calls to politics, then take a page from Erin Schrode’s book and run for office. This goes especially for women - take the extra step and become a part of the gender revolution!

 

Katie McBeth is a Freelance writer and former bookseller based out of Boise, ID. She enjoys reading teen novels, eating mac ‘n cheese, attending indie concerts in small bars, and long walks on the beach. Her love for reading is only trumped by her love for cats, of which she has three. She also has a dog, and he helps keep her grounded. You can follow her animal and writing adventures on Instagram or Twitter: @ktmcbeth.


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