Thoughtful Thursday – Mixed Messages

Image Courtesy of Microsoft Word Clip ArtSome of the local papers this morning are talking about the message of hope that Senator Obama brings to minorities. I wonder why none of them are talking about the message of futility that his nomination brings to a group that is a majority in number, but a minority in terms of power.

Wondering who I’m talking about? I’m talking about women. According to 2006 estimates from the U.S. census bureau, women account for 50.7 % of the population.

Want to know how many women have ever served in Congress as either Representatives or Senators? Click here for the list. According to the official Congressional website at, “Since 1917, when Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman to serve in Congress, 244 more women have served as U.S. Representatives or Senators.”

How many women are currently serving in Congress? Click here for the list. According to the official website, “Eighty-nine of the 245 women who have served in Congress are current Members—74 in the House and 16 in the Senate.”

89 women out of 535 Representatives and Senators (click here for the breakdown on how many in each part of Congress.)

Doing the math, that means that roughly 17% of our Congress is female while women are 50.7% of the population.

I don’t know about you, but the political system seems like an Old Boys Network to me and the numbers are doing little to change that idea as is the recent experience with Senator Clinton. Before I continue, I want to make it clear that my intent is not to bash anyone or to support anyone. Rather, it’s a discussion on gender in politics in a very general sense.

Think about how many times the media referred to the emotions Senator Clinton showed on the campaign trail. I guess the point of that was to show that there’s no crying in politics?

Think about how many times Senator Clinton was referred to as Mrs. Clinton.

Think about how many times Senator Clinton was referred to as “Hilary.”

Going a little further with that last one, for those in office environments, ask yourself whether the men are generally referred to as “Mr. So-and-So” or by their first names. Then ask yourself how often women are referred to solely by their first names.

What does use of just a first name say? It’s definitely a sign of familiarity and you know that old saying about what familiarity brings. But when the men are Mr. and the women are familiar, isn’t that a subtle sign that one is on a higher level than the other?

Same thing with stripping the “Senator” title and using “Mrs.”. It’s a stripping way of the power behind the title. It’s a reduction in status.

Taking it to the next step. How many times have you heard that women have to work harder for less pay than a man in a comparable position?

So why is it that as a physical majority women lack political power? Or maybe you don’t agree with that and if not, I’d love to hear your take on things.

Just some thoughts for you to consider.