Monday, April 30, 2007

"Subterranean sexism"?

"Is it fair to presume that the United States lags behind much of the world because of a subterranean sexism?" So asks San Francisco Chronicle reporter Vicki Haddock regarding American women's historical lack of clout compared with countries where 40 woman have governed as prime minister or president. Charts accompanying the article list those 40, as well as the 11 women now in power. They represent a cross-section of the globe. According to University of Missouri Political Science Professor Farida Jalalzai, women heads of state or government have been distributed as follows: Europe, 35%, Asia, 20%, Africa, 16%, Latin America, 14%, Caribbean, 8%. Representation in the Middle East and North America, 1 woman each, defies classification by percentage. (Test your own knowledge of women leaders via the quiz here.)
On why no U.S. head of state to date, the article refers not only to lingering sexism, but also to quirks in the U.S. presidential system and to the "'warrior image'" inherent in the constitutional role of Commander in Chief (of the Army and Navy, that is; not the people at large).
Other thoughts on why this is?

1 comment:

Yave said...

Perhaps it's the extremely grueling work schedule that it takes to become president in a country that has a distinctly unfamily-friendly workplace, combined with the widespread view among the electorate that any respectable mainstream candidate who is not a Republican male must have a sterling traditional family life. Clinton has walked this tightrope pretty well so far, but given the environment in which she's working, it's no surprise she's the first major female candidate for the office in US history.