Saturday, January 16, 2016
Maya's Post #3
One thing that really struck me when I first began conducting research on the issue of women, and women of color, in elected office was how while all areas of government could certainly improve their gender balance, there are certain areas of government that have been, and continue to be, almost completely absent of women in certain critical roles and positions. For example, in 2004, 40 counties in the state of NC had no women on the Board of County Commissioners. Now this was in 2004....things should have improved in the years after, right? Wrong. Looking at the statistics in 2015, there were 44 counties without any women represented at this level of political office. The really striking part about this is that "all but three of these [counties] were among the 85 rural counties in North Carolina" (McLennan 2014). This was a critical statistic because it forced me to start thinking about the implications of the intersections of different factors in women running for elected office. What barriers existed for women who were not only ethnic minorities, but coming from rural counties? Whose voices aren't being heard at the political level? What were the implications of these counties continuing to fail in having even one woman hold this particular political position?
After engaging with this question, a secondary driving question was if there was a point that women, and women of color, were most dissuaded from pursuing or entertaining the prospect of seeking political office in the future. Political ambitions between women and men were at their highest gap of 20% at the college level. This data made me question whether minority women were even less likely to consider political office, and what methods could be established at the college level to bolster and reinforce that stage of development to prevent young women, and especially women of color, from losing interest in political ambitions.
I'm still seeking answers to these questions and speaking with as many people as possible to understand the political climate. Hopefully my research will continue yielding results, and I look forward to sharing my findings in February!
Lawless, J., & Fox, R. (2013). Girls Just Wanna Not Run: The Gender Gap in Young Americans’ Political Ambition.
McLennan, D. The Status of Women in North Carolina Politics. Raleigh, NC: Meredith College, 2015.