Have women achieved equality in American politics?

It was 25 years ago this weekend that Walter Mondale, then Democratic candidate for president, announced his choice for a running mate: U.S. Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, D-N.Y. Ferraro was the first woman to receive a major party’s nomination as vice president of the United States. A quarter of a century later, has the promise of Ferraro’s candidacy been fulfilled? Have women achieved equality in American politics?

No. Women still face a discriminatory attitude when speaking on the issues: they must prove they are ‘hard’ enough on security and the like. -Chris, Appleton, MN

Not equality, but they have advanced. -@Pearles52

  • Nathan Affield

    Not yet. but we’ve made excellent strides.

    It’s a fight that will continue and only gets better.

    With bills like the Equal Rights Act being considered, I don’t think it’s very far off.

  • Josh


    – 16.6% of the US Congress being women,

    – 4 out of 20 cabinet posts going to women, and

    – 34.8% of the MN state legislature being women,

    In a nation of around 50% women, I would think the answer is no; not yet.

  • Mary Thury

    Not by a long shot. My hope is that by the time I’m old enough to retire (which may turn out to be a particularly long way off), I will see our elected representation demographically reflect our American population. I don’t know whether this is being realistic or idealistic, however.

  • I don’t think so; I mean, to my mind, equality won’t be reached until the equality/qualifications issue is sort of an afterthought.

    Men and women (we can debate the gender identity issue) are different, but that doesn’t have to impact whether they can lead. The very fact that this question has been asked tells me that total equality hasn’t yet been reached.

    When this question can be asked and is met with the same confused expression as “Are white males treated equally in politics?”, then we’ll have something close to equality.

  • Elizabeth T

    Totally equal? No.

    Mostly equal? Yes.

    Mondale/Ferraro was the first time I was eligible to vote. I remember how nuts women went over the choice. (And, to note: I lived outside of Minn. and still voted for them.)

    Clinton sealed the fact that it is an open field for women when it was a nail-biter to the last minute with electoral college in an uproar. The fact she didn’t win isn’t because she’s a woman. It is, however, the reason many women voted for her. A fact I find sad.

    There’s no ethical difference between voting for a woman just because she’s a woman vs. voting against a woman just because she’s a woman.

    It’s regretable that other countries – both similar and different from us – have managed to put a woman in the Big Chair. England (Thatcher), Germany (Merkel), Israel (Meir) & India (Ghandi).

    Consider that most people 80 years ago would likely have expected a white woman to be elected long before a black man. You’ve come a long way, baby.

  • We’ll know for sure when a female politician gets caught in a sex scandal and can see how everyone reacts.

  • charlie Foust

    Equality, no. But we have earned a place at the table.

  • Sue

    No. Just ask any woman in politics. They have had to work a lot harder to earn and keep their positions than a man would.

  • Karen Seay

    Take a look at the comparative numbers of men and women in any governmental body and the composition of leadership in the parties, and you have to conclude that the answer is “no.” The more interesting question is the reason for the inequality. It may be that women have a harder time playing the game. It may be that the game sets subtly or not so subtly different rules for women. Until more women demonstrate the courage, determination and insight to begin affecting change in not only the policy decisions that come as a result of political successes, but the rules by which the political game itself is played, and until more thoughtful men join in that effort, women will remain at a disadvantage.

  • Robyn Bipes

    Senator Amy Klobuchar humorously put it best at the Ann Bancroft Foundation fundraiser last year. In context of describing how far women have come in politics yet how it is not yet equality because the caliber of women to succeed in politics means they are required to be that much more brilliant, that much more dedicated etc than men. Klobuchar closed by saying “We will have achieved equality in politics when there are as many mediocre women [in the House and Senate] as there currently are mediocre men”. A standing ovation by all in the room!

  • Carol Bungert

    We’ve come a long way. . .but have we achieved total equality?. . .Sadly no.

  • Karen Kapusta-Pofahl


    I think this is obvious when you look at the numbers. There need to be more women in the Senate and White House for me to feel free to apply the term “equal” to the situation. I would say that women are now considered “able” to be in politics, which is itself a big stretch from 100 years ago.

  • Jennifer

    No, and I don’t think we will until the media (NPR is often the exception) stops pandering to the patriarchy by discussing what female candidates are wearing; how they’re doing their hair; whether they will be able to spend enough time with their children if they are elected, and who has the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. There were countless comments on the news about Senator Rodham Clinton’s and Governor Palin’s wardrobes and hairstyles during the presidential election. I remember only one about President Obama (it had to do with whether he was wearing a flag pin).

    Yes, there will always be people who are obsessed with such trivial matters, but the media creates a culture in which it is valid to consider female appearance among qualifications (or disqualifications) for public office. This is a disservice to women in all arenas and discredits the mass media as a tool of democracy.

  • bsimon

    If you can ask the question and people don’t respond with “what are you talking about?” the answer is no.

  • Sarah

    Women are judged differently than men. If a woman is critical of another candidate or speaks with a firm tone she comes across as callous and harsh (think Hilary Clinton). But a man can make the same statements with the same tone and he comes across as strong and powerful (think Barak Obama). These perceptions are engrained in our culture whether we will admit it or not. Women are soft and weak, men are firm and strong. It’s a subconsious thing that we all have in us. I think it is safe to say that women are more equal than they were, but there is still a long way to go.

  • Rich Nasser

    Yes and no:

    No, if you judge progress on this issue as having a woman VP or POTUS.

    Yes, they have. if you really feel that it is difficult to get elected into public office just because you are a woman I would have a hard time believing it because evidence suggests this is the case in but a very tiny minority cases.

  • Bob

    What a fatuous question. Politics has become not just a men’s club, but a multi-millionaire men’s club. And most of the time, the men in charge don’t demonstrate high levels of competency.

    Sadly, this state of affairs is unlikely to change any time soon.

  • Doug Haftings

    I think in an important way they have. In that they are as likely to get elected as a man in a head to head race.

    Of course, someone like Sarah Palin or Michele Bachman set them back a few steps.

    But there are men who make themselves fools as well.

    That’s part of being equal too.

  • Beth Royalty

    uh, no.

    look at Doug Hafting’s post above. Why would we mention those women who “set us back a few steps?” Aren’t there plenty of men who might set men “back a few steps?” Why are women measured by a different set of measuring tools?