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In many places of the world, women are in some sense viewed as men's property, and the United States is not an exception. Due to a variety of factors, including cultural differences, this notion is minimized throughout the world. To address the issues they encounter, women are also entering active politics and other high-level leadership positions. As more and more women enroll in colleges, institutional barriers that were employed to keep them out are melting down. Additionally, those who are already in leadership positions are making use of the opportunity to inspire other women to join them in the struggle for equality and just representation.However, appropriate voting is very unlikely to ensure adequate representation, as a result, develop democracies are formulating another method to integrate into the electoral system to increase female population in legislative houses. For example, in the United States apart from the fair electoral system, there is a one-district practice aimed at improving female legislators in both national and state houses.
Keywords: women perception of leadership, the role of women in administration, issues addressed by women in politics.
Role of Women in US Politics
It is not by chance to cite the overwhelming changes that have occurred in women politics, education, employment, and governance. These changes are as a result of deliberate and spontaneous activities among groups of women that is traced back to the long history of the United States. Over the time these teams work diligently through public speaking, petition drives, lobbying and nonviolent resistance to push for these changes (Bayat, 2013). Although they have succeeded hugely in most of their agenda, specific issues remain a challenge and some emerged due to changing times. Therefore, this paper analyzes different topics involving women in the society, issues they address through politics and challenges they face. This understanding is the critical identification of areas and ways to support women.
Historical role and current positions of women in united states politics
From back in history, power, status, and social class were predetermined by an individual's gender. A patriarchal society resulted in men possessing greater skills than females and would enjoy all that was valued by the social group. Their dominance in all areas including governments presented an opportunity for legislation of laws that would maintain such divisions of power. Women were viewed to be best suited for wives and mothers (Bayat, 2013).
The quest for equality resulted into women's movement whose focus was political and civil rights with the primary goal being right to vote and run for office. They believed these rights would enable them to claim their role in democratic politics. In 1872, Susan B. Anthony, an activist, took a stand to demonstrate the need for voting among women by a tempting to vote Ulysses Grant but got arrested (Bayat, 2013). However, in 1878 congress witnessed the introduction of a woman's suffrage Amendment but the campaign short-lived due to United States involvement in World war 1. Later in 1919, after several protests and petitioning lead to the passing of Nineteenth Amendment by both houses allowing women to vote. Woodrow Wilson by then the United States president ratified the Amendment in 1920.
After winning the right to vote women soon believed in no time, they will be seen as equals in the society and hold positions that were men reserves. Different women left a mark and a pillar for their fellow women to follow by taking different roles and venturing in educational and political fields that were reserved for men. For example, Elizabeth Backwell established a lead in science when she became the first woman to graduate with a medical degree in the United States (McClintock, 2013). In politics and social work activists like Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone formed and led American Woman Suffrage Association to advocate for American social reforms and struggle for women's right to vote.
Today, women are venturing all field and positions from science, education to the political arena and are performing just as good as men. In the last decade, United States has witness women taken up positions that were previously held by men or joining their families in politics. Kathleen Sebelius became the first woman governor whose father was also a governor in 2003. It is usual in some states like Arizona that women succeed each other in the governorship Jane Dee Hull was replaced by Janet Napolitano and subsequently by Jan Brewer in 2009. Janet Napolitano also became the first woman to be secretary of Homeland security after President Obama's appointment. Moreover, Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential nomination is proof of women milestone achievement toward societal acceptance (Solomon & secrets, 2017).
Women and leadership
perception of women on leadership
Women do not just view more of them involved in top leadership managerial positions as a way of equality in the workplace or fair representation but as the only way to improve quality of life for all women. An argument that has since been disputed by many men claiming that women leaders cannot have such wide-ranging benefits.
More often than not women are likely to point out societal and institutional factors as their limitations to succeed in top leadership positions. A large number of women do not believe in the fellow women leadership. Additionally, they have no primary reason other than them not being ready to elect more female politicians (McClintock, 2013). However, the same women argue that females outperform their male counterparts based on an evaluation of leadership characteristics.
Today in the United States democratic party is dominating the number of female leaders elected at both the federal and state level. Regarding political leadership, Democrats are likely to recommend and significantly support women to do a better job than men when compared with a Republican. Despite the contradiction between the members of the two major parties, it is not necessary that Republicans would favor men. Instead, they are likely to point out that there is no significant difference between women and men. The Democratic party is a pioneer in fostering the idea of women being able to hold top offices, Hillary Clinton got clearance and a nomination by the party to run as their presidential candidate in 2016 general elections (Solomon & secrets, 2017).
However, Hillary failed to win the general election; she has established a good foundation and set an example for all women both in the states and globally. Globally, women are speaking highly of her courage and determination in the fight for fair representation and gender equality while back in the United States a large number of people are starting to believe maybe soon they will have a female elected president.
Role of Women in Leadership
Majority of Americans believe women are indistinguishable from men based on leadership traits like the capacity to innovate or intelligence. Moreover, many people argue that women are better than men since they are more organized and compassionate leaders (Solomon & secrets, 2017). However, despite these traits, the number of women in leadership has remained relatively constant if not reduced over time. For example, a trend in the pollical arena in the United States since 1998 when it was rank 59th and now 98th in the world based on the percentage of women in the national legislature.
The low women contribution to politics and other top executive positions in business attributed to particular factor like career interruptions in complications related to motherhood. This situation makes it difficult for women to advance in their dreams as they continuously break from their duties to take care of family calls (Solomon & secrets, 2017). However, this argument is disputed by a few individuals who think this is not a significant reason. Incorporation of parental leaves and proper childcare these women can efficiently manage the situations.
Political discrimination fueled by gender is not ending soon. Women are openly denied nomination tickets to represent the party in the elections in some states. More often than not they gave reasons like electorates not being ready or prepared to elect women to such positions. Otherwise to be provided such opportunities women are forced to go the extra mile to prove their capabilities to their counterparts (Solomon & secrets, 2017). Therefore, in most cases capable women with fantastic leadership skills and ready to serve often loss such opportunities. For example, twenty-four states are yet to elect a woman governor ever since while only five are helping, a clear underrepresentation of women in elective posts.
Although women still lag behind men today in senior managerial positions, the situation is likely to change shortly. In the recent decades, there is a trend that has since changed in favor of women widening their diversity and providing opportunities to lobby for higher managerial positions. Since the 1960s and ‘70s, a direction in colleges enrollment and completion rates were male dominate. However, the current studies from the 1990s are suggesting otherwise where women have outnumbered men. In the 114th Congress, the highest number 104 women representing 19 percent of the legislature will be serving. This is the almost double share that helped 20 years ago counterparts (Solomon & secrets, 2017).
Issues Addressed by Women in Politics
In the recent past women who venture into politics were addressing gender-based problems, now they address the no different issue from men. This situation is not because they stopped advocating for their sexist grievances, but men are slowly realizing the importance of women in the society and are beginning to address women agenda. Issues address by women include:
Violence against women
Even in the United States of America some people still consider women as their property. To this effect, 80 percent of women become violence victims and some end-up dead in the hand of their former or immediate partners. In most states, cases of rape by partners are not considered crime and are underplayed (Carrol, 2017). Although, the United States is regarded as some of the most developed democracies in the world, statistical out of every 100 cases that end in court not forgetting the ones that are unreported only nine prosecuted, 12 arrests and as low as five is likely to lead to a conviction (Carrol, 2017).
From the statistics, it is clear that even in industrialized countries we are losing sight at understanding the perpetuation of violence against violence. More often than not we want to believe that these occurrences happen outside the United States. However, it exists where women in the United States are 11 times likely to die of a gunshot than any other industrialized nation. Moreover, 1 in every four women is expected to experience domestic violence once in a lifetime (Carrol, 2017).
Women feel the male domination in higher political offices in some ways offers a loophole for them to get away after committing gendered based crimes. Therefore, they are seeking fair presentation in the legislative houses to help in the formulation of laws that they feel will better handle these crimes. On the other hand, men continuously lure women into voting them with a promise to combat violence against them.
Women in the United States have come a long way in dealing with gender-based differences in their societies. For example, since way back when they did not have voting rights, freedom of assembly and speech. These women continuously accuse culture as a significant factor in facilitating social stereotyping. On the other hand, racial discrimination among African Americans for a long time were neglected and did not have equal opportunities because of their skin color (Bayat, 2013). Several attempts to address social injustices for equalities. These efforts included campaigns and nonviolent protests different states. Although in the start such activities met significant resistance from men who opposed the increasing female involvement into politics, but eventually the role of women is being accepted globally (Gill et al., 2016)
Division of domestic labor
Gender roles continue to present heated debates in the twenty-first century like never seen before due to raising women to campaign for equality. From the 1990s, there is an increasing acceptance of shared domestic responsibilities though women continue to carry the most significant burden. Particularly in the kitchen women continue to virtually do all the work (Gill et al., 2016). As far as this is a social problem middle class, professional women are quick to transfer this responsibility to people who offer childcare services and cleaners. A large number of men also remain conservative of this culture where women belong to the kitchen, even when married more often than not they suggest for their wives to stay back home to become home mums. Women involved in politics are taking the platform to advocate for shared responsibility in domestic chores, a grievance that at times do not go well with conservative men.
Despite being the majority of the United States Population and their long-time campaign women are yet to achieve fair representation according to Fair Vote's Representation 2020 chair Cynthia Terrell. Moreover, US democracy does not just need women more women in office for fair representation and representative government, but because of their influence and contribution in formulation and passing of bills. Studies suggest that women legislators introduce more bills than men especially in areas such as education, labor, health and civil rights. Although the use of both fair representation electoral system and the one-seat district is yet to achieve proportional representation, its contribution towards increasing the number of women in legislative assembly is undisputed. These continue to offer women opportunities to address various issues affecting them and their communities.
Bayat, A. (2013). Life as politics: How ordinary people change the Middle East. Stanford University Press.
Carroll, A. B. (2017). Family Law and Female Empowerment. UCLA Women's LJ, 24, 1.
Gill, J., Esson, K., & Yuen, R. (2016). Who Are Girls in Current Times and Is There a Problem? In A Girl's Education (pp. 1-25). Palgrave Macmillan UK.
McClintock, A. (2013). Imperial Leather: Race, gender, and sexuality in the colonial contest. Routledge.
Morley, L. (2014). Lost leaders: Women in the global academy. Higher Education Research & Development, 33(1), 114-128.
Solomon, M., & Secrest, K. (2017). Women's Leadership Development Through Networks of Support: An Analysis of the Women's Leadership Circles of Vermont. In Leading and Managing in the Social Sector (pp. 195-218). Springer International Publishing.
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