The New Wave: The Challenge of Getting More Women Elected
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The number of women serving in Congress and other elected positions has grown dramatically over the years, but many say progress is taking too long.
In this week’s segment of The New Wave: Women in Politics, Peter Haskell looks at calls to get more women elected to office.
When Liz Holtzman was first elected to Congress in 1972, she was one of 16 women in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, there were none at all.
Thus, Congress was just 3 percent female.
But 45 years later, there are 107 women in Congress – 20 percent.
“We’re making progress, but too slow in my opinion, and with a lot of damage to the whole society,” Hotlzman said, “because we’re losing out on the talents of extraordinary women.”
Despite the record number of women candidates, Holtzman, 76, understands the process is incremental.
“You know, it may take another 20 years before we get halfway or more, but the fact is, ultimately, progress in this is just not stoppable. It’s going to happen,” she said. “Unfortunately, it’s taking far too long. But there’s no way of stopping the progress that women make.”
Political science professor Brigid Harrison of Montclair State University thinks the timing is right.
“With the large number of retirements, what we see is that this will be an opportunity for many women to get that foot in the door, and become the incumbents that are so hard to beat,” Harrison said.
Former New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman said it is about more than just numbers. It is about governing.
“You need more women and you need more minorities at the decision-making table, because you need that different set of life experiences; a different way of approaching problems,” Whitman said. “You can’t, in today’s day and age, there’s no one group that has all the answers.”
Another issue is misconduct. Former New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned after being accused of dating abuse.
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who ran for New York City mayor, said it matters.
“You know, there’s an attractiveness about a female candidate, and I think it’s because men seem to get themselves in trouble, you know, whether it’s sex scandals, whether it’s corruption,” Malliotakis said.
But more women running also means more women losing. Nearly 90 female candidates have already lost congressional primaries.
Neil A. Carousso produced WCBS Newsradio 880 reporter Peter Haskell’s multi-platform series titled “The New Wave: Women in Politics.” See the video piece of this installment here.