Li Yinhe: America Fails to Elect First Female President

November 16, 2016
By Li YinheEditor: Penny Huang
Li Yinhe: America Fails to Elect First Female President

Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton and won the US presidency on 9 Nov, 2016. [chengyusan]


Does Hillary Clinton's loss mean women are still in a subordinated position in terms of political participation? There is still a long way to go globally for women fighting for equal treatment in politics.

Over the years, Gallup polling has shown an increased acceptance of the concept of a female presidential candidate, from 31 percent when Gallup first asked about this question in 1937 to 73 percent in 1975.

Gallup polls also show that more than seven in ten Americans claimed that the country would be better governed if more women engaged in politics.

Despite these encouraging results, America has still never elected a female president and many obstacles are still preventing women from engaging in political life on equal terms with men.

For over 1,000 years, patriarchy has been deeply rooted in most societies as the prevalent social norm. This system enforces and naturalizes the gender division that men inhabit in public spheres for work and production whereas women are typically in private spheres for reproduction, childrearing and household work.

Debates have lasted for hundreds years on whether women should enter public spheres.

Approvers like Engles consented the entry of women into all kinds of public spheres including political, economic, social and cultural fields as a vital importance to women's liberation. The exclusion of women from productive labor leads to male control in public domains.

Confronting the doctrine of a separate sphere, significant progress and achievements have been made for women's public roles.

Over the last 200 years, females have been fighting for equal rights with males in the realms of suffrage, educational opportunities and employment opportunities.

However, patriarchal relations remain intact often as a result of discriminatory laws, practices and a lack of access to politic domains as women's political participation is not allowed to object in public in contemporary society.

This may have resulted in the fact that the formulation and implementation of national law, government policy and other political affairs are mostly male-dominated.

Therefore, differences do exist in political engagement between men and women and women are still largely marginalized from the political sphere despite cultural diversity from country to country.

Particularly, the governmental, legislative and administrational workforce are overwhelming male globally. In developing countries, female employers only account for 6 percent of national administrational positions on average. Despite a better situation in China where the proportion of women working in administrative positions arrives at 11.5 percent, the gender imbalance is still evident and ubiquitous.

Structural barriers in these sectors internalize the notion that men are better at politics than women and women lack a competitive ability. Such a discriminatory political environment leads to women's lack of confidence and depression in politics, which pushes them into disadvantaged positions.

In order to break this negative cycle, actions should be taken to not only eliminate prejudice but also to provide inclusive opportunities to build women's political capacity thereby encouraging women's participation and representation in every sector.

Therefore, policies in favor of women should be enacted and implemented, in particular to cultivate newcomers in politics.

Regarding female leadership, traditional gender norms fail to provide men and women with equal opportunities for promotion and hinder women in management. Women have to make more efforts to become leaders.

Furthermore, gender stereotypes about female politicians still exist. Particularly, men tend to choose female politicians without threat or a strong sense of feminism. Following this tradition, it would be difficult to break the glass ceiling and to realize gender equality.

(Source: China Women's News/ Translated and edited by Women of China)

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