Women in Politics

Introduction

In democratic societies where gender equality is legally guaranteed, gender discrimination happens in politics, first concerning presumptions about political allegiance that along gender lines, and secondly disparate gender representation in representative democracies. According to Bochel & Briggs (2000), female interest in politics has been increasing in the previous years, even though their political engagement remains stagnant. Around 17.5% of women hold leadership positions in the American government (Lovenduski, 2001). This particular figure is far less than that in developing nations, especially in Africa. This paper attempts to explore multiple hindrances faced by women globally in detail when it comes to participating in politics on an equal footing with men. From a life example, comments and statistics of female politicians, many factors are attributable to the ever-widening presence of women in power and their qualitative bearing on political processes and circles.

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Representation of Women vs. Men

In the midst of many acknowledgements from people that women have reached gender parity, this gratitude should not be treated as a platform for complacency. Innumerable factors have negatively impacted the participation of women in politics, especially in the United States. However, other factors include confidence in their capability to hold a position and the responsibility for childcare.

Irrespective of a significant advancement of womens rights, women are still confined to stereotypical gender roles, including bearing substantial responsibility for household affairs and childcare. A study conducted by Lovenduski (2001) supports this fact. The problem with women in politics does not just lie in the belief that they are burdened with family responsibilities, but because there is a cultural idea to attempt and harmonize their composure in politics. For women, the issue of having more representatives in leadership positions is just beyond equality in the workplace. I support a study conducted by Reingold (2000), who states that having more women in top leadership positions will go a long way to improve the quality of life for all females. Further, it will have some positive impact on female roles. On their side, men are less convinced that womens leadership has huge wide-ranging benefits.

The manner in which women in politics are perceived as compared to men is dictated by some existent barriers. For example, in the United States, there are certain hindrances that withhold women from attaining greater political representation in top leadership positions. Ross (2002) acknowledges that unlike men, women are much more likely to point to institutional and societal factors, not being ready to be elected to positions of women leaders and applied higher standards in the government and business.

Women themselves assert that female leaders in both business and politics outperform male counterparts in terms of characteristics and attributes that a good leader should possess. Gender gaps inherent in perceptions about political leadership are sharp. Whether reaching compromise, having backbone persuasion and honesty, or working for the realization of the dream of all Americans, female leaders have a potential of performing more than their men. On their side, a majority of most men assert that there are no major differences between them and women when it comes to specific matters of leadership.

The desire to attain balance illuminates the complexity of choices faced by women and is inapplicable to men totally. Being a working parent implies making compromises, adjustments, and sacrifices on a day-to-day basis. Dispelling such kind of belief in superhuman gender roles will lend credence to the rise of women politicians and opportunities in America. The belief in political qualification offers the biggest platform for the nonexistence of women in politics. A survey by Studlar and McAllister (2002) indicates that, men are 70% more likely than women to believe that they are more qualified to vie for political office. This research puts forward the question whether the belief in qualifications arises from ingrained gender perceptions in contrast to ability. I agree with Bochel and Briggs (2000), who suggest that women are as qualified as men in matters of political affairs, and in most cases, they even tend to be more qualified as compared to their male colleagues. The scarcity of political knowledge offers a correlation between womens lack of political candidacy and their usual doubt.

Often, the deficiency of political knowledge stems from less familiarity with the political media and gendered messages, thus giving a conclusion that the majority of news is male-dominant and biased (Reingold, 2000). The deficiency of competitiveness and confidence in the political arena is compromised in the face of the media and public attention. The key traits that Reingold (2000) sees as necessary in running a political office, namely confidence and competitiveness, are the ones women are encouraged to refrain from unlike men who should embrace them. Research by Ross (2002) affirms that overconfidence is counterintuitive, especially in business-related affairs. Womens doubt in their capability (which leads to increased cautiousness) has led to higher productivity in the world of business in contrast to weak efficiency in the political sphere. According to Reingold (2000), gendered perception has emerged to cause the lack of female political candidates in America, sharply contrasted by performance. The aforesaid evidence shows that the biggest enemy in the political sphere is lingering sexism and deeply gendered stereotypes that obstruct political experience. In an attempt to narrow the gender gap between men and women in the field of politics, it should be understood that the root cause of the problem does not have to relate to the lack of interest, but a desire to perform politically male-biased.

Motivation for Joining Political Office

Overall, the number one motivation for both men and women to join political office is that they have an insatiable desire for serving their nation. For women, the next strongest motivation is primarily to improve the lives of their fellow women, followed closely by the desire to improve the lives of the community where they live, and further to be involved in making important decisions that affect their lives. On the side of men, the second motivation is to seek to improve community affairs where they live. The capability to improve the lives of men and that of women is also a motivating factor.

Deterrents to Entering Politics

The decision to enter politics is always influenced by various factors, but potential candidates consider certain obstructions from time to time. Oftentimes, candidates seeking for political office point to the lack of support from the electorate as the strongest deterrent for men. It is further followed by low support from political parties, as well as the lack of financial resources and experience of representative functions. In terms of women, domestic responsibilities form part of the strongest deterrent for them to seek political office. It supports conventional thinking that women face obstacles while trying to balance between family life and political responsibilities, and often tend to embark on a political career at a later stage in their course of life (Lovenduski, 2001).

A burden placed on womens shoulders in the domestic sphere is reinforced by the prevailing cultural attitude to them in society. In many nations, an incredible challenge is the prevalence of both hierarchical and patriarchal norms that appreciate social contribution within the domestic sphere as the greatest one. Such norms infiltrate politics where women are not perceived as being rightful political players or able leaders. Consequently, this leads to the notion that politics should always remain in the hands of men. Bochel and Briggs (2000) note that in some nations women lament that deeply ingrained cultural attitudes regarding their functions end up leaving them totally unemployed, socially, economically, and politically.

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On their side, male respondents consider the prevailing cultural attitudes as one of the least significant deterrent factors towards joining top political positions. It is opposite to the case of women. At this juncture, it becomes apparent and logical why America, for instance, has never had or voted for any woman president coming into power. Ms. Hillary Clinton and others are good examples of classical candidates with the potential of becoming great American presidents, even if for just one term (Lovenduski, 2001). At the worst, another gender disparity is seen in the fact that most parliaments, political parties, and government executive wings tend to have less numbers of females, while the rest majority includes men. It bespeaks of the male dominance that has eaten into the present and the past system of doing and balancing gender roles (Bochel & Briggs, 2000).

Conclusion

This paper has examined the social perception of women differently from men, aspiring to climb political ladders. What the paper is trying to bring out is the fact that, across the globe, the manner in which countries allow men to receive top political seats easily as compared to women is somewhat biased and unclear. It illustrates that men are more capable in certain areas of life than women. Additionally, it suggests that the latter are not competent in terms of handling certain tasks. The primary recommendation from this research is that there is a need to change the manner in which women are perceived, and they should be assisted to get top political seats.

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