Sexual discrimination and the US Census

I was discussing one of Robin’s essay questions today, about gender inequality and how women get lower wages, poorer quality jobs, and the like.

Well, it occurred to me that I had heard once upon a time that women outnumbered men in this country. So I looked it up with the most recent census numbers, and discovered that it was true, to the tune of approximately 5 million people by the most recent estimate.

So, it now occurs to me that since women make up the largest voting bloc, why is it that women do not constitute the largest bloc of representation? If women determined that they wanted a female President, there would be no stopping them, for instance. It’s simply a matter of numbers.

So, I am forced to come to the conclusion that when there is a complaint about how there aren’t enough females in Washington, or that we’ve never had a female President, women have nobody to blame but themselves. Just think about it for a moment:

Were women to take over the legislature, there would most assuredly be some change in the status of women in general, both economically and professionally. Yet only 13% of the Senate is female, and 62/435 Representatives, for a paltry 14%. That’s not even to speak of the Cabinet. Statistically, it should be much higher.

So what’s the deal here? Why do women not exercise their power more effectively in order to overcome the gender inequality that exists?

Phyllis Schlafly.

“Paltry” numbers?? Hey, within my own personal memory those numbers were zeroes all across the board. Give us some time, willya? We’ve been playing catch-up ever since 1919, and 80 years ain’t much when the Other Team has a 10,000-year head start.
in 1970, I would never have believed we’d have a governor named “Jennifer”


It could well be that most of the demographic difference is in the 80+ year old category. And maybe they vote in reasonable numbers, but it’s also true that the older the demographic, the more conservative it is. You can’t just lookk at the raw numbers.

It’s also more than just voting. The power structure (ie, the source of candidates) of both parties is pertty much male dominated. Women would need to take over that power structure first.

You’re also making an implicit assumption that women will want women to represent them, and men want men. Perhaps people put more emphasis on the actual policies of the candidate than the sex of the candidate (or race, or whatever).

According to my extensive research, women make up less than 5% of anybody who is anybody or has ever been anybody. As a physicist, who in graduate school had 5 female classmates among 200, I have long reconciled myself to the fact that I will seldom meet a woman I can converse with in a common language. Yes, there is that one obligatory woman scientist who appears on all the PBS National Geographic and Nova specials, but she is much to busy to actually appear in public, much less spend time with me.

If it hadn’t been for Cleopatra and Joan of Arc, I could have studied a history bereft of women! Check out the stats: except for special situations where women get a vote for just being a citizen or in movie sex scenes, women come in at less than 5% representation, from Nobel Prize winners, to athletes, to CEOs, to inventors, to spellng and geography bee winners, to comedians, magicians, musicians, producers, directors, to …

We who like Amerikan women would like to see them liberated!

Many women suffer from internalized oppression. Leadership to them requires maleness. They will look at a male candidate and a female candidate and attribute qualities to the former strictly because he has a penis. Not all women are down for the cause. A lot of us have bought the hype about us being inferior.

Well, you need a candidate before you can elect a President. (Right?) So first of all a female candidate would have to arise, have enormous amounts of money to ensure that she was seen and heard everywhere, and manage to unite women and male feminists.

Ain’t gonna happen. There are rightist women and leftist women. Some women are pro-life, others pro-choice. Some are aggressively Christian, some aggressively atheistic. Some are rich, some poor. Women simply do not have the same opinions on everything, and none but the most rabid feminists would vote for a candidate whose politics they didn’t agree with.

But yes, if the gender of the President suddenly became the most important issue, then a female President would be a reality. Can you really see that happening?

Try the life sciences. Very close to “gender parity”.

I know this is a horrible generalization and is totally anecdotal. But, in my experience, I know a great deal of women who don’t really like other women. They will socialize with them, but wouldn’t ever vote for them or root for them. Many have flat out said that “women are bitches”. If even a minority of women feel this way (conciously or not), it would undermine an attempt to get a majority to vote for a woman.

There are two reasons you don’t see the gender majority in this country reflected in the government.

  1. As already alluded to, women to NOT make up a majority of the political elite. By this I mean the system of favors, friends, clubs, and parties that make up a good portion of the political system. This is changing, but it’s still too soon after the “end” of a male-dominated political climate for women to be represented here.

  2. Women, like men, care about alot more than just the gender of the candidate they vote for. It is absolutely true- if a female president was gaurenteed the vote of every female in America, both parties would wet themselves getting Mrs. Dole or Mrs. Clinton on the podium. But there are many other issues people care about: abortion, crime, foreign policy, education and race for a start. These issues splinter women (and people in general) into disperate voting blocks.


Thanks, Priceguy, for taking the words out of my mouth.

I am a self-confessed feminist and I would never under any circumstances vote for Margaret Thatcher. Or, if (God forbid) it came to that, for Ann Coulter. Hillary doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies just because of her chromosomal make-up, for some reason. Kim Campbell, the only female PM of Canada, was somewhat respectable but as a Conservative (the Canadian version of ‘republican’ ) she would not get my support. Barbara Hall is currently running for Toronto mayor and she is plummetting in the polls because she is an idiot. Women don’t vote for idiots just because they are women. The idiot factor far outweighs the woman factor.

I also agree with those who have suggested that women are not as drawn to politics as men. Sheila Copps, currently running for leadership of the federal Liberal party (she will lose), has been in politics for decades and has always struggled against the ‘old boys club’ within. I have been around old boys clubs before, they are not fun. As a woman, I am not tempted to join in that particular bastion of male tradition, I would rather direct my energy elsewhere.

So if we combine these two ideas (and as always YMMV), the kind of woman that is prepared to take on politics and all the ugliness that it entails, and succeed (like Thatcher and Campbell and Hall, who was mayor once), is not the kind of woman that I would be likely to vote for.

But I would love to be proven wrong !

It’s interesting the “Women don’t vote for idiots just because they are women.” What does that say about the attitudes of people who think that the likes of Al Sharpton have some sort of control over “the black vote” or that Sharpton (idiot) vs. Mosely-Braun (non-idiot) would “split the black vote”? Does that mean that blacks, unlike women, are presumed to vote for idiots merely because they are black?

No, I think that means that some people don’t have a very high opinion of how black people vote.

I would be very surprised if there were any demographic that would -across the board- vote for a candidate simply because that candidate was part of said demographic. That said, I would not be at all surprised if there were stereotypes concerning that behaviour in certain ethnic groups, for instance.

It’s amazing how so many of “some people” work for and run major press outlets, including CNN, Time, etc.

There’s also the possibility that there’s less chauvinism among women voters than men voters.

Imagine the following situation:
100 women, split evenly along party lines between supporting the Circle Party and the Square Party.
100 men, split evenly along party lines between supporting the Circle Party and the Square Party.

We’d expect to see 100 votes for the circle party (50 men, 50 women) and the same for the square party, right?

Now let’s say that the Circle Party runs a female candidate, and the Square Party runs a male candidate.

Let’s say that 10% of the women care enough about gender to cross the voting line to vote for their own gender. 20% of the men care enough to cross the voting line to vote for their own gender. (The women care because they want to promote women in politics, for example; the men care because they don’t think women have what it takes to be in politics).

We’ll now see 55 women voting for the Circle Party, and 45 voting for the Square Party.
But amongst the men, we’ll see 40 voting Circle, and 60 voting square.

In the end, we get 95 votes for circle (the female candidate) and 105 for square (the male candidate).

Does that make sense? I don’t know how much that dynamic – that men are more chauvinist in their voting habits than women – holds true, but it may have some effect.


I wouldn’t vote for a woman for being a woman, but I would vote (if I voted) for the woman out of two or more candidates whose views were essentially interchangeable. That would go for any candidate in a minority, however.


It could make sense, since women haven’t always had a female candidate to be chauvinistic about, so the pattern of voting for women probably can’t be as ingrained.

I think about fiction. I’ve read some studies about how women will read books written by both male and female authors, but men tend to read only books by male authors. I don’t know how valid such studies are, and there is obviously a problem when you attempt to account for genres, but I think it’s the same problem as when you attempt to account for political parties.


Yes, thinking about it for a moment would be a very, very wise idea. Fifty-five percent is a slim margin for a majority. Every woman in this country would have to be a registered voter. Assuming they are, they’d all have to be members of the same political party. As we all know this isn’t the case, I fail to see how anyone would be forced to conclude that women have no one to blame but themselves with regards to the lack of a female President.

Does anyone have the skinny on how many women in this country are convicted felons and therefore could be ineligible to vote? I’m aware the inability to vote because of a felony conviction varies from state to state and also the amount of time for which one is ineligible to vote could also vary.

JuanitaTech, it’s not true that every woman would have to be a registered vote, member of the same party, etc. in order for it to make a difference; women would just have to be registered in the same proportions as men for it to make a difference.

Women are obviously catered to in elections – thus the whole Soccer Mom stereotype that plagues politics. However, I don’t think a significant number of women are single-issue voters with that single issue being the sex of the candidate; therefore, we don’t see Women as a group uniting behind a specific candidate.


This would effect men much more than women, because there are a considerably larger number of male felons than female ones.