Saturday, December 30, 2006

Madame President and 'The Glass Ceiling'


I get really irritated for some reason when I hear about women and the Glass Ceiling. It really irks me when the term is used in conjunction with becoming President of the United States. May the best woman or man win!

A ceiling seems to me to be a symbol of a barrier that cannot be broken through. A glass ceiling seems to be symbolic of being able to see the goal, but not being able to break through.

In this vein today, the Deseret News editorial staff published a piece entitled "Awaiting Madame President". The staff opinion begins thusly:

India had Indira Gandhi, England had Margaret Thatcher. Israel had Golda Meir. Today, Chile has Michelle Bachelet. Even Spain once had Isabela. But the United States, a nation that prides itself on being ahead of the curve, lags behind in having a female chief executive. Other countries have dismantled the glass ceiling, but women in the United States continue to bump their heads.
I think it is excellent that these great women have been leaders of their countries. It is because they were very qualified to do so. America has the same caliber of women, but very few have come forward to run for president as of yet.

Because it doesn't matter to me what sex someone is--if they're the most qualified, they should get the job--it really irks me that DesNews would perpetuate the idea of a glass ceiling in, of all places, the quest for the President of the United States.

There have been 46 different presidents of the United States, 55 presidential elections, and who knows how many total candidates. In all these elections, there have been 21 women candidates, and 12 of those candidates ran in 1996. Male candidates run all the time who are not considered serious contenders. Similarly, only about 6 of the women candidates for president could be considered serious contenders.

Women have run for president in only 10 of 55 presidential elections. Therefore, a very tiny statistical probability exists that a woman would have been elected president.

The same case can be made for minorities. There has never been a black president of the United States. And when a serious contender, Alan Keyes, ran in 2000, he was marginalized by the press.

Perhaps the most sloppy portion of DesNews' opinion is their final statement:

Undoubtedly the United States will one day have a woman president. And when that day arrives, undoubtedly — as when Jackie Robinson broke the color line in baseball and Rosa Parks broke it in bus riding — Americans will slap their foreheads and say, "What were we thinking? We should have taken this step years ago."

Yes, we will have a woman president, but no, we won't say 'What were we thinking?'. Only when more high-quality women candidates for President come forward. It is not a matter of a glass ceiling. It is a matter of desire.

1 comment:

  1. There are plenty of women with the desire to run for president. The glass ceiling doesn't always refer to a conscious ban on women reaching a certain position. It's more based in tradition and culture and a subconscious, institutional sexism that makes it so there aren't more women in the position to run for president in the first place, or women taken seriously enough by the media or political parties or fund-raisers. THAT is the glass ceiling, and it has been clearly responsible for preventing women from being elected as president. And it IS time for America to slap its collective forehead, and it's time to elect a woman for president.

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