The Congressional Gender Gap

Via Yglesias, here's Dana Goldstein:

Electing women to public office is a crucial goal. A shamefully tiny 16.8 percent of Congress is female, and research shows female politicians are more likely to be pro-choice and to support spending on health care and education than male politicians, even of the same party. But to succeed, the Beltway organizations that promote feminist candidates, such as EMILY's List and NOW, need to throw their support behind women who want the job, and have the political skills to get it; the passive coronation of the wrong female candidates can do a lot of harm to American women.

Even if Martha Coakley, their cause célèbre, pulls through this race, she will enter the Senate in a vastly weakened position, perceived as a frontrunner who blew her lead and mangled her campaign. What's more, Coakley's lack of fight raises questions about her ability to effectively advocate for women's issues as a legislator in a deeply divided Congress. It will be tough to build grassroots excitement around her reelection, and she may face primary challengers in 2012.

Dana's point about women who "want the job" got me thinking about an old debate. How many women really want the job? Are there fewer women looking to have a career in politics than men? If so, why? Are they being discouraged, either actively or passively? Is politics, at least as it's in American, gendered in such a way as to attract male candidates?

Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Saving the Bees

Honeybees contribute more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy. A short documentary considers how desperate beekeepers are trying to keep their hives alive.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In