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Paige DeRouin Headshot

Why the Lack of Women in Politics?

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Washington has been criticized for being under constant gridlock for the majority of the last five years. This gridlock leads many people to think cynically about our government. The issue of women holding political office is treated cynically as well. Currently, only 1/5 of United States Senators are women. On the second night of the Women in the World Summit, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) spoke of the gridlock in Washington and what women bring to the table in United States politics.

The first question that was posed during the segment was, why is it so hard for women to hold government positions? The main problem is that there are currently not many women holding significant positions, making it harder for young women to find role models. Furthermore, when women are told to run for office, many of them do not believe they are ready. However, if you were to ask a man to run, they think they are ready or are overqualified for the position. Women also second guess themselves when running for office, worrying about whether they have enough experience. As a young American woman, I find this to be very true. Many of my male friends have talked about wanting to run for office in the future, meanwhile I'm unsure I have ever heard one of my girlfriends mention running for office. Also, I do agree with women needing role models. People have the tendency to look up to individuals they can relate to. If there is a lack of stellar women in political positions, subconsciously women will not believe they can run for office.

Women also bring much more to the table. Men are seemingly competent in running this country, we have seen this since the United States was founded. However, women are much more collaborative than men. Moreover, women bring a different leadership style. If over 50 percent of the population are women, it would make sense for the government to represent that 50 percent. I went to a coed high school and I am currently at an all-women's college. I have found that women are much better at communicating their wants and needs than men, and also are more willing to compromise with each other. As we see now with the gridlock in the US Congress,this type of collaboration and compromise is crucial for the productivity of the government. Both Susan Collins and Kirsten Gillibrand demonstrate this collaborative style in their leadership in the Senate.

I found this panel to be extremely interesting and very realistic. I am currently studying in Washington, D.C.,and see the frustration over Congress first-hand. I also believe if women held more positions, the general interests of the country would be better represented. I feel that women need to push their own limits and become role models for younger generations. In order to fix Washington and make a change to our society, women need to be given the confidence at a young age and believe they can change the world. Today, several women US Senators are doing just that, but we need many more! That is what iLIVE2LEAD is trying to do and I am glad to be a part of it.

iLive2Lead is a youth leadership-training program based in Washington, D.C., that conducts training in various nations in each region of the world. iL2L brings the most exceptional young leaders together for International Leadership Summits and works with them to develop social initiatives which they lead back in their home nations, thus creating global examples of social responsibility and a ripple effect of impact worldwide. Contact us at www.iL2L.org.