An Unprecedented Number of Women Plan to Run for Office
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The United States’ pathetic record on women in politics (women only hold about 20 percent of all national-level seats, and the local numbers are just as bad) is due in large part to the fact that women just don’t run for office at the same rate as men. When they do run, they’re elected and reelected at about the same rate as their male counterparts — as EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock put it, “If we were in a country where women didn’t feel there were obstacles in the way, we’d be in a country where there were an equal number of women and men running for office.” But judging by the numbers, women are increasingly willing to face those obstacles. And that could mean the beginning of the end of gender disparity in American politics.
The explosion in interest is a surprising byproduct of an election in which America’s first-ever major-party female candidate for president lost narrowly to a man who during the campaign seemed to confess to serial sexual assault. Hillary Clinton’s supporters also watched her be picked apart with a type of scrutiny that’s rarely applied to men. But when I talked to the women gathered at the Grand Hyatt, almost all of them cited the election as motivation. “Having Trump win has made me realize how complacent I was about a lot of things,” said Bonnie Casillas, 23, who’s from California and would like to run for governor — especially after learning all of the state’s governors have been men. And although the policy area that most interests her is immigration (both her parents came to the United States from Mexico), she said another key reason she’s running is to dismantle the stereotypes Clinton faced. “People aren’t born thinking women are too hormonal to do something — that’s a cultural thing,” she said. “A lot of women are fed up with that.” Casillas wants to prove them wrong.