Think of a famous female politician. I can guarantee that the first names that come to mind are Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May, Harriet Harman. Whatever your political stance, one must appreciate how hard these women have worked in a male-dominated workplace.
After the 2015 General Election, 148 women MPs were elected. Compare this to 502 male MPs and it is clear that politics is dominated by men.
Gender Centric Judgement
If you type in ‘Harriet Harman’ into Google you will be met by stories of Harman being called ‘weak’ and to not be helping the way that the Labour party is at the moment. Whereas, if you typed in ‘Michael Gove’, there are stories of his possible fractured foot. It’s an all too common scenario, where women are belittled because of how society has traditionally seen them, with doing something ‘like a girl’ being used as an insult. Despite the fact it’s 2015, it is clear that the world still sees women as being weaker to men, especially in politics. Since 1721, there have been 71 Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, 70 male Prime Ministers, and 1 female Prime Minister. Yet, if you mention the name ‘Margaret Thatcher’ you are met with mostly distaste and anger. Arguably, people with these opinions of Mrs. Thatcher have reason to feel this way, it is almost as if everything else that the other Prime Ministers have done has been overlooked. Many forget that Tony Blair took us to war in Iraq without consulting the Houses of Parliament or the British people, which is not very democratic.
Real Live vs. Politics
This idea is not just clear in politics, it is clear in everyday life. Caitlyn Jenner recently announced that she regarded herself more as Caitlyn Jenner rather than Bruce Jenner. When Caitlyn was referred to as ‘Bruce Jenner’, she was asked about her Olympic achievements. The media’s attention on her quickly changed to what she is wearing and people that she could be dating. You could argue that this whole paragraph has been somewhat irrelevant to the article. However, if we want to tackle the fact that women are not represented or equally treated in politics, we must also tackle the social factors of how women are portrayed. Recently a well-known manufacturer of feminine hygiene products released a supportive advertising campaign ‘Like A Girl’ in the UK. It showed how young girls have been limited because of their gender, being told that they can’t like certain things because it’s a ‘boy thing’. This campaign really underscores the point that I am making in this article. We cannot expect to have more female MPs if girls are being treated this way.
As a young woman myself who is interested in politics and looking at the research that I have done in order to create this article, it is clear to me that women are often made to believe that they can’t be interested in politics because men are traditionally supposed to deal with anything political. If the population could look over tradition and really see the make-up of the population and how clearly vital it is to involve women in decision making, parliament could become more representative and MPs and parties could be elected on ability over gender.
We also need to restore the public’s faith in women politicians and allow them to see that both men and women should be equal and that being from one gender does not translate into how well or badly you would perform as a politician. We need to educate all young people and all of the population of the importance of not judging politicians or people in general based on their gender. If we do not install gender roles in young children, I am positive that the gap in parliament for women would soon be filled.
A Worldwide Issue
This issue is not just a problem in the United Kingdom, across the pond the United States also is faced with the same issue. Only 20 out of 100 of the Senate are women and only 84 women serve in the House of Representatives out of 435. Clearly, this issue is international; if the United Kingdom were to set this example to the rest of the world in regards to being tolerant and appreciative to women in politics then the rest of the world, the US would have to follow. This would allow young girls and women to grow up in a world free from prejudice currently faced by women based on their gender.