Underrepresentation of Women in Politics

In this paper I will dwell on the problem of underrepresentation of women in politics. I will discuss the history of the problem, explore different viewpoints on the problem and analyze the statistic data. I will also mention the main obstacles for women in their political careers and the ways to encourage women participation in the political life of the country. The problem is very urgent and requires serious consideration and urgent actions. In the contemporary male-dominated world of politics women are underrepresented.

I will discuss the reasons of this and the possible causes of the insufficient number of women in political life. The main aim of the research is to reveal the main reasons of women underrepresentation in order to eliminate them and to promote the participation of women in political life. Among the other questions, which I will discuss in this research is the contribution to the political life of the country made by women, ways of encouraging of women to be politically active and promote their participation in politics in different countries.

We can say that the present-day world of politics is still male-dominated. This presents great obstacle to women to participate in this world. After the centuries of political exclusion women at last were granted two fundamental democratic rights, which are the right to vote and the right to stand for elections. This happened for the most part at the beginning of the 20th century. Thus, the first country, which gave the women the right to vote, was New Zealand (1893).

Finland was the first country, which granted women both the right to vote and the right to stand for elections as long as 1906. Now over 95 % of all countries observe both rights. However, there are still some countries, where women are denied in both rights. This is quite typical for the Oriental Muslim states like Kuwait or United Arab Emirates (Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, 2007). History of women-governors It is noticeable that the number of women at governing positions is not that high.

If we have a closer look at the American history we will see that during the whole period of its existence there were only 26 female state governors, of whom 17 were Democrats and 9 Republicans, and only one woman territory governor, who served her position in Puerto Rico. There are only a few states, which had a female chief executive. In major states of the country – 29 – this position has never been run by a woman. Prominent place is occupied by Arizona, which had three women governors, followed by New Hampshire, Texas and Kansas, which had two women governors (Carroll, 2004).

However, it should be mentioned for the most part these women were elected greatly due to the prominent political role of their husbands and had the same political convictions. Let’s just have a look at several examples: Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming, who was in fact the first woman governor, obtained her positions in 1925 as a successor of her husband, who was seriously ill. Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, Texas governor was also elected immediately after her husband, who had been impeached and thus could not participate in the elections.

Everything in Ferguson’s campaign stressed her close political connection to her husband. Even her slogan was “Two governors for the price of one” (Gruberg, 1968, p. 189). One more American governor, Lurleen Wallace of Alabama, also was a successor of her husband who legally was prohibited to participate in the elections one more time. As in the above mentioned cases the link between woman politician and her husband was not concealed but even emphasized by the slogan, “Let George do it” (Gruberg, 1968, p. 190).

Ella Grasso was the first woman, who was elected in her own right. She was the governor of Connecticut from 1975 to 1980. Since that time sixteen more women were elected in their own right and six obtained their position through constitutional succession (Carroll, 2004).

Now we can see that there are more women governors in different states at one and the same time than in the past. Thus, in 2004 there were eight women governors: Judy Martz, governor of Montana, Republican, Ruth Ann Minner, ruling Delaware, Democrat, Jennifer M. Granholm, Democratic governor of Michigan, Linda Lingle, who is the governor of Hawaii and belongs to Republican party, Janet Napolitano, serving her position in Arizona, Democrat, Kathleen Sebelius, governor of Kansas, Democrat, Olene Walker, Republican, Utah and Kathleen Blanco, who governs Louisiana and is the representative of Democrat party. Besides I’d also like to mention Sila Calderon, who belongs to Popular Democratic Party and is the governor of Puerto Rico. She stands apart from all the rest due to the fact that she is the only woman of color on the governor position (Carroll, 2004).