By: Kylie J. 

According to data compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (2018), the United States is ranked 102nd out of around 190 countries in terms of women’s representation through politics. Women are generally underrepresented, throughout not only American society but specifically in America’s politics and the political workplace. “Women make up 51% of the population in the U.S., but only 28% of Congress, 24% of the U.S. Senate, 28% of the U.S. House of Representatives, 0% of presidents of the United States, 31% of statewide elected executives of any kind, 31% of state legislators, 31% of the largest cities' mayors, 25% of mayors in cities with populations over 30,000,'' according to Represent These numbers are even smaller for women of color. The topic of gender discrimination against women in the workplace is the focus of discussion among experts working currently in politics. And many are just now noticing the issues within. 

Men have a political advantage in America. This has been proven time and time again in every election and throughout history. The authors of the paper, “Women and Politics: The Contestation for Visibility,” argues that, “Without a doubt, men have enjoyed supremacy in politics, while for women, the voting was proof of their struggle for equality, even in the democratic United States. Women’s suffrage in the U.S. was evident that at the peak of democracy, priority was given to men in terms of election and the right to vote.” 

Men have an advantage because they have been favored since the beginning of history. Women didn't even gain the right to vote until August 18, 1920 (Archives Gov.). Women didn't have a voice or opportunity to use their voice until the ratification of the 19th amendment. But even with the right to vote, they are still underrepresented. The first woman to run for the U.S. The House of Representatives was Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1848. She was legally not allowed to run or even vote at the time but she still did, out of the 12,000 votes, Elizabeth only received 24, The Center For American Women and Politics (CAWP) reports. Kamala Harris, the current Vice President was the first woman to achieve such a position. She was elected in 2020, 172 years after Elizabeth Cady Stanton. 

Another example of a woman in politics who still faced injustice was Hillary Clinton. During Hillary's campaign in 2016, she won the Democratic nomination for President. On the night she won the nomination, her husband Former President Bill Clinton gave a speech but Hillary Clinton made history that night as the first woman ever nominated for President. Regardless of this fact multiple newspapers still ran front-page coverage that included a photograph solely of Bill. This bias pushed aside Hillary’s biggest achievement. This picture indicates that when a woman achieves something their hard work is undermined and taken credit for by a man (Jessica Fink, 2018). The issue is hugely present in the media.

The traditional traits seen in a woman are often disapproved of in the workplace. Examples of the traits are being perceived to be highly emotional or fragile, and showing traits of femininity. A sample from “Psychology of Men & Masculinities” (2021) shows a study done with 1,136 U.S. participants, 78% of those participants being women. The general results from the study indicated that the people's avoidance of femininity, toughness, restrictive emotionality, and importance of sex norms of traditional masculinity ideology was associated with conservative political ideology. This study supports the statement; femininity is seen as a negative quality to possess. This characteristic is seen as a weakness in the workplace and if you possess this so-called “weakness” you are seen as weaker than the people who don’t. This, therefore, makes it hard for women or a person that possesses the feminine role to rise to a position of power in the workplace.

Feminists have brought to light many ways that women are sidelined and discriminated against in both the workplace and politics. During President Donald Trump's presidency, lots of feminist and women's movement organizations grew.  Author, Judith G. Gonyea, wrote the paper, “The Presence of Older Women in Current U.S. Electoral Politics”, in this paper she states, “The January 21, 2017, Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and its sister marches nationally and internationally, had the core message that “women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.” This statement embraces the message that women should be treated the same as men because they are all humans. It also stated, “The Women’s March organization, for example, adopted the following “Unity Principles”: ending violence, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, workers’ rights, civil rights, racial justice, voting rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, environmental justice, and more.” One of the reasons that there was a surge in feminists during President Donald Trump’s presidency was because sexism and discrimination rose during his run. Presidents Trump was very open about his discrimination against women. Trump commented in his 2004 book “How To Get Rich” that, “It’s certainly not groundbreaking news that the early victories by the women on The Apprentice were, to a very large extent, dependent on their sex appeal.” Trump has made several comments of this nature. When a man in authority uses harmful language and is not held accountable for it, his supporters think it's okay to do the same. I think this is one reason why feminists have become more popular in recent years. 

I think this leads back to the political workplace too. I believe Donald Trump was an example of a harmful man in a political workplace. He used the power that he garnered to promote negative views and actions to the entirety of the world. And feminists and their movements reacted to this by trying to progress the movement for women to run for political positions.

Women in the workplace are held at a disadvantage politically because of men's historical advantage, the “traditional traits” women possess, and feminists trying to battle against men in authority using their power for the wrong reasons. Men have had a political impact on society since the beginning. They were the only ones allowed to vote and run for office up until the 1920s. Research shows that women's feminine traits are seen as a weakness in society but it's seen even worse in a political workplace. Some men in power have used their power to promote negative messages causing a resurgence of feminist and women's movement organizations. The most effective step that the political workplace can take to give women fairer opportunities is to put more women into positions of power. If the demographic is altered within the workplace, this might change coworkers' viewpoints and opinions against each other (Jessica Fink, 2018). 

Another possible solution to the problem discussed is to simply evaluate and acknowledge that bias exists. Being transparent about the issue could solve it. The McKinsey Report shows that almost 100% of companies offer discrimination training but fewer offer bias training. The report argues that “when employees don’t understand how bias works, they are less likely to make fair and accurate decisions and push back on the bias when they see it.” Understanding the issue can prevent it from occurring in the workplace. 

The last solution to the problems discussed in this paper is authority should increase interaction between women and men at work. Men and women should constantly be working together no matter what. Having these interactions between genders stimulates employee development, which helps rid them of gender bias. Having a workplace where every person has a voice is vital to the well beings of everyone, especially in the political workplace.

Works Cited

“Gender Sidelining and the Problem of Unactionable Discrimination”, Jessica Fink, SSRN Electronic Journal, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 57–106, 2017

“The Politics of Men’s and Women’s Traditional Masculinity Ideology in the United States.” McDermott, Ryon C., Psychology of Men & Masculinity, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 627–638, 2021, doi:10.1037/men0000367

“How to Get Rich: The Secrets of Business Success from the Star of the Apprentice,” Trump, Donald BBC Books, 2004.

“Women in the Workplace 2022.”, McKinsey & Company, 18 Oct. 2022,

“Women and Politics: The Contestation for Visibility.” Talib @ Khalid, Kartini Aboo, et al. Akademika, vol. 91, no. 2, 2021, pp. 105–116, doi:10.17576/akad-2021-9102-09.

The presence of older women in current U.s. electoral politics. Gonyea, J. G. Generations (San Francisco, Calif.), 42(4), 26–33. (2018/Winter2018/2019).  

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