We can see that the political sphere is greatly masculine. Masculine model is still dominant in politics. This can be revealed in several facts: men still are the dictators of the rules of the political “game”, they are the ones who establish the standards for evaluation. Political sphere exists according to the norms of behavior and sometimes even lifestyles typical for men (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007). One of the most obvious proves for this is the concept of “winners and losers” in the political sphere. Competition and confrontation, which are so typical for man, are the major components of politics.
Women on the other hand tend to support the principles of consensus, cooperation and mutual respect. This leads to the fact that women feel alien in the world of politics created by men (Dahlerup, 1991). Birgitta Dahl, Speaker of Parliament in Sweden expressed her own idea of the place of women in politics: “The most interesting aspect of the Swedish Parliament is not that we have 45 per cent representation of women, but that a majority of women and men bring relevant social experience to the business of parliament. This is what makes the difference.
Men bring with them experience of real life issues, of raising children, of running a home. They have broad perspectives and greater understanding. And women are allowed to be what we are, and to act according to our own unique personality. Neither men nor women have to conform to a traditional role. Women do not have to behave like men to have power; men do not have to behave like women to be allowed to care for their children. When this pattern becomes the norm then we will see real change” (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007).
Women cannot feel themselves quite comfortably in the world of politics dominated by men due to the difference in priorities of decision-making. Women tend to have their own working patterns and interests, different from those of men. Thus, female politicians tend to display more concern with social security issues, children protection and health care (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007). Due to the greater diversity of their interests women are usually more overwhelmed with work than men.
Besides their party activity women usually participate in committees, network outside their parties. In addition women can’t forget about their major role of wife and mother. However, the world of politics is built according to the men interests and schedules. Parliamentary programs and sitting times are not built in correspondence to the women dual burden. Because of this female MPs experience great difficulties trying to balance their political careers and family lives (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007).
Lack of Party Support The other problem women face in their political careers is the lack of the party support. It is obvious that women play a considerable role in political campaigns of their parties and are very successful in drawing attention of the public to the party image and mobilizing support. However, when it comes to the division of decision-making positions, women rarely occupy them. Statistic data show that women constitute only 11 % of party leaders all over the world ().
Women rarely receive sufficient financial support from their parties for conducting election campaigns, which means that there is less women candidates and consequently less women MPs (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007). In the process of selection and nomination too much emphasis is placed on the “male characteristics”, which are too appreciated and quite often serve the basis for candidate selection. This emphasis on male characteristics of the political candidates leads to the underestimation of female candidates and women as politicians and future obstacles to the political career of women.
Quite often women are listed in the party just in order to draw attention of the voters and be left behind in case the party does not win enough votes in an election (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007). Sushma Swaraj, member of parliament of India comments this tendency the following way: “It is very difficult for a woman to make up her mind to enter politics. Once she makes up her own mind, then she has to prepare her husband, and her children, and her family. Once she has overcome all these obstacles and applies for the ticket, then the male aspirants against whom she is applying make up all sorts of stories about her.
And after all this, when her name goes to the party bosses, they do not select her name because they fear losing that seat” (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007). The only case when the participation of women in politics is more or less guaranteed is when quotas for women’s participation are established. For example, in Sweden, the ratio of 40 -60 % led to the considerable increase of number of women represented in politics. Now women constitute 40. 4 % of the current members of parliament of this country (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007).