Thursday, November 20, 2008

This wasn't a breakthrough year for American women in politics. It was a brutal one.

I'm glad to see a woman in our media who sees the same reality some of us have tried to point out, Marie Cocco tells it like it is in The Glass Ceiling Holds Strong.

I recommend reading the article in full, but some of my favorite parts:

The glass ceiling remains firmly in place -- not cracked, as Hillary Clinton insisted as she tried to claim rhetorical victory after her defeat in the Democratic nominating contest. It wasn't even scratched with the candidacy of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential nominee -- unless you consider becoming an object of national ridicule to be a symbol of advancement. As divergent as these two women are ideologically and temperamentally, as different as are their resumes, they both banged their heads -- hard -- against the ceiling. Both were bruised. So was the goal of advancing women in political leadership.

But, we are invariably told, surely there are enough women moving through the "pipeline" of lower offices so that someday, some woman from somewhere will win the presidency or the vice presidency. Well, here is how things stand: Eight women will serve as governors in 2009, the same as this year. The proportion of women serving in statewide elective office actually has dropped since it reached a high of about 28 percent in 2000; it is now about 24 percent, according to the center.

The Senate will add one woman next year, bringing the number of female senators to 17. Ten newly elected House members are female. This means that as the class of 2008 enters the Capitol's marble halls, it will include less than half the number of women who first won office in 1992 -- the so-called "year of the woman."

Including incumbents and newcomers, a record number of women will be serving in Congress, but still only 17 percent of its members will be female. This is where that record places us: on a par with the legislative representation women have achieved in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. The United Nations, which tracks women's global political advancement, says that at this rate, it will take women in the developing world 40 years to reach parity with men.

Maybe someday enough women will actually take notice to make a difference...

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