Are Female Voters to Blame for the Failure of Women Candidates?
1 year ago
New study shows women aren't supporting one another
During her remarks at this year’s Newsweek/Daily Beast "Women in the World Summit," former Secretary of State Madeline Albright reiterated one of her favorite maxims: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” Well according to a new study it looks like the ladies room in hell will be quite crowded.
Just in time for International Women’s Day, which was March 8th, London based company Business Environment released a study of 1,000 women. Let’s just say the results didn’t exactly scream girl power. The study found that 25% of female managers expressed reluctance at hiring a woman who has children or is of a child-bearing age, while 72% admitted to judging female coworkers for what they deemed inappropriate dress, compared to just 60% of men.
[ALSO READ: Women in the World 2012]
The findings seem to confirm earlier data, including a 2010 study from the Workplace Bullying Institute, that found that when women are accused of workplace bullying, the targets are almost always other women, in numbers that outpace the number of men accused of bullying other men.
So why should we care if a few women engage in a bit of “Mean Girls” behavior around the office water cooler? Because the long-term ramifications for all women are much greater than just a few hurt feelings. The bullying directed by some women in the workplace appears to rear its ugly head in the voting booth.
Though women have comprised both the majority of the population (51%), and the majority of the electorate (56%) in recent years, female candidates have struggled to translate these numbers into any representative majority in elected offices. According to the 2012 Project at Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, the U.S. currently ranks 71st worldwide in terms of female elected officials—just behind someplace called Turkmenistan. While there have been some high profile successes here and there, Governors Nikki Haley and Susanna Martinez being recent examples, last election cycle the number of female members of Congress dipped for the first time in more than three decades. This step backward in the House, combined with our country’s inability to elect women—of either party—to the highest or even second highest office in the land (something nations like Pakistan have done) begs the uncomfortable question. If women are the majority of American voters, then does the blame for the dearth of women leaders lie with women voters?
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Gov. Sarah Palin and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann may have little in common politically speaking but one common bond they all share is running, and failing, at the highest level and on the biggest stage in politics—and being a lightning rod for female voters while doing so. Though some female voters were their biggest supporters, many others were their toughest critics, with few occupying the middle ground. According to the Associated Press, these two extremes are not limited to these three women, who many consider polarizing. “An AP analysis of data from the 2006 American National Election Study Pilot Test found that when it came to selecting a candidate for president, gender matters more for women than for men. But it's a two-way street; women are more likely to vote for a candidate because she is female, and also more likely to dismiss a candidate because of her gender, according to the analysis.”