The Femo: Surge in number of female candidates adds defense to “War on Women”

Hillary Clinton

by Sarah Rubin

Despite the influx of disappointing news about women’s issues in politics, American women finally have something to celebrate: According to the Center for American Women and Politics, there has been a significant increase in the number of women candidates running for Congressional seats in the 2012 election. This year, 18 women are running for the Senate and 163 are running for the House of Representatives, an increase of 22 candidates from 2004’s record high.

Of these women, 12 Senate candidates are Democrats and 6 are Republicans, while 116 House candidates are Democrats and 47 are Republicans. Though there are many more female Democratic candidates running for Congress, female Republicans continue to outnumber Democrats in governors’ offices around the country.

There is no doubt that an increase in female representatives creates positive outcomes for American democracy. The majority of the American population is female, and thus, a lack of political participation by female candidates is problematic for the majority of constituents.

This year’s increase in female Congressional candidates should also give American women hope for future increases in female candidacies. Since the boom in female participation in 1992, rates of female candidacies in Congress have not grown as rapidly or significantly as once projected. The 2012 surge is an opportunity to revamp enthusiasm about women’s participation in politics and lends hope that the number will continue to increase in the coming years.

The suggested reasons for which women decide not to run for political office are numerous. However, it is undeniable that female candidates undergo a significant amount of scrutiny and criticism when running for office.

Female candidates, such as candidates Sarah Palin, Nancy Pelosi, Michele Bachmann, and Hillary Clinton, are often subjected to rude comments about their appearance, brutal challenges to their intelligence, and overall questioning about their ability to effectively govern.

Despite these formidable challenges, we must continue to nominate and elect women to political positions, as well as inspire young women to become involved in the political process. After all, as the “War on Women” continues to remain in the political spotlight, it is only appropriate that we call on our female elected officials to help us wage it.

photo of Hillary Clinton by Marc Nozell: