That ‘glass ceiling’ is beginning to crack

Commentary by Meghna Mahadevan
Times-News correspondent

   In roughly 40 years, the role of women in politics has drastically changed for the better.
In 1979, only 3 percent of Congress consisted of women, and in 2015, 19.4 percent of Congressional members are women. In addition, it’s the first time that more than 100 women have served in Congress, and five of those are from North Carolina.
Globally, by Jan. 1, 2014, there were 36 countries with 30 percent of head-governmental positions held by women, and the number of women in charge of foreign affairs had risen to 45, the highest it has been since 2008.
So what has caused these changes and what hasn’t changed at all?
    In the last few decades, our views on women in politics and gender equality have greatly changed. Forty years ago, a great number of men and women alike said that they would be less likely to vote for a female candidate rather than an equally qualified male candidate.
Nowadays, some 73 percent of Americans are ready to elect a female candidate for a top political position (such as president) and 75 percent of all Democrats, Republicans and independents said that men and women make equally good political leaders.
These numbers would have been unimaginable 40 years ago, and the fact that we’ve come so far is fantastic. Not only that, the male dominated areas — defense, foreign affairs and money —  no longer are male-only fields. In fact, three secretaries of state, two national security advisers, and three U.N. ambassadors have been women.
Even with all these advancements, there are also many parts that have not changed. Women have less power than before in Congress simply because the power lies within the seniority, which is mostly composed of men. The Pew Research Center released a new survey explaining why women have not reached the top degrees of power: It found that women are held to higher standards and Americans simply are not ready for a female leader.
We are closer than ever before to having a female leader, and though many speculate it will be Hillary Clinton in 2016, many predict there will be a female in the Oval Office in the near future. As for now, in the words of Clinton, “although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it.”

 Meghna Mahadevan is a freshman at Western Alamance High School and a Teens & Twenties writer.

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