5 ways your voice and your vote matter more than ever.
2020 has taught us a thing or two about resilience. Some of the consequences have been devastating. Also, there has been light.
At the very least, the stage has been set for change.
The work of resilience and change isn’t ours alone, as women. But we sure know our way around it. With the election less than two weeks away, it’s heartening to remember how far we’ve come, while re-committing to the vision and the work that lies ahead.
The key takeaway: Your voice and your vote matter.
Here are 5 ways we think that’s true now more than ever.
We’re just getting started.
This year marks 100 years since the 19th amendment gave women the right to vote in the U.S. It’s an important landmark, and 100 years seems like forever, but it’s not.
Men have been choosing our nation’s leaders for twice that long, since 1789. And most black women didn’t vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965—that’s just 55 years, a mere blink.
The point is not to downplay or denigrate the courage and grit of the women who led us here. But we can’t rest on it either.
Women are not adequately represented in U.S. politics. At least not yet.
Women make up over half of the U.S. population (51%) and less than a quarter of the seats in Congress (23%). Women of color represent less than 9% of Congress.
Representation in top-ranking positions is even lower at the state level, with only nine female governors and eight attorneys general.
While 2018’s historic wins for women and diversity in Congress is surely a bright spot in a straight, white, male-dominated landscape, we’ve got some catching up to do.
According to new data from the World Economic Forum, the U.S. has actually backslid in terms of political representation for women over the past 14 years, plummeting 20 points to rank 86th out of 153 countries surveyed.
Reason to despair? Maybe. But women also act, like the record-breaking number of women running for Congress this year.
We’ve never had a female president, and female leadership tends to be good for everyone.
Over the past 50 years, only 68 countries (out of 153 included in the WEF report) have had a female leader. That’s not great, but it’s also 68 countries ahead of the U.S.
Again, it’s a matter of inadequate and inaccurate representation. The institutions making decisions that govern our lives don’t look like we do as a country.
It’s also a matter of what’s good for the country. Research shows that female leadership is good for a broader spectrum of us in important ways.
Countries with female leaders are faring better during the Covid-19 pandemic and also tend to more successfully govern diverse populations. Woman-led businesses also report higher earnings and happier employees.
The wage gap persists, and gains are stalling.
In 2018, women working full-time earned 81.6 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. The overall gap has narrowed, but not significantly since 2015. For women of color, the gap is even greater and closing more slowly. Black women earn just 62 cents for every dollar a white male makes, while Latinx women earn 54 cents.
Enter the Covid-19 pandemic, and women are working harder—both at work and at home—with greater negative impacts on our health, earning potential, and careers.
Women have made great strides, holding over half of all management and professional-level jobs, yet we still lag behind men in terms of top leadership positions.
We need to keep pushing, and we will. And we also need gender-balanced, family-friendly legislation to help pave the way.
The kids are watching.
This year, an entire generation of young women, the most racially diverse generation yet, is primed to cast their first presidential vote. They are educated, informed, and engaged. They care about global issues, human issues: racial justice, gender equity, and climate change.
On this centennial celebration and at this key moment in history, it’s impossible not to look at the legacy we are leaving them.
We have come so far. And yes, we still have work to do. Good thing history has proven we are clearly up for the task.