Commentary: Women

In the past, WOMEN often waited to be asked to take leadership roles and then fretted as to whether they could do it and what about home responsibilities? Even WOMEN who took on leadership, often because they had supportive opportunities, were smart and aggressive, still were erased from history.

The New York Times (NYT) looked back in their obituaries and found they were remiss in obituaries for WOMEN who were notable in their times and fields: Henrietta Lacks gave her HeLa, the cell line named for her used for decades for treating ailments like hemophilia, herpes, influenza and leukemia; Ida B. Wells one of the nation’s most influential investigative reporters in 1920 Chicago; Nella Larsen’s fiction is read today in American literature and Black Studies courses; Margaret Abbott, was the first American WOMEN to win an Olympic championship; poet, Sylvia Plath, novelist Charlotte Brontë and Ida B. Wells, an anti-lynching activist. These extraordinary WOMEN — and so many more — who did not have obituaries in The NYT now do and can be viewed on their website.

WOMEN, in their endeavor for equality and ranking, are getting more degrees than men except at the Ph.D. level. In fall 2016, 56 percent of US college students were women. But, these WOMEN take on larger student loan debt because of a variety of WOMEN specific reasons. After graduation, WOMEN take longer to pay off loans due in part to an unequal paycheck, childcare and have had to take out larger loans. WOMEN account for two-thirds of total US student loans or more than $830 billion. Unfortunately, the elusive equal pay affects WOMEN in more ways than we imagined.

WOMEN have made significant strides in girls’ education, health, labor force participation and politics. In the past 20 years, WOMEN have doubled their global numbers in leadership roles.

WOMEN’S participation in politics is socially transformative. Research shows WOMEN in politics raise issues others overlook, invest in projects beneficial to their constituents and nation while seeking to end abuses others ignore. When WOMEN participate in peace processes, it is 35 percent more likely to last at least 15 years. But women still face many barriers to their political participation.

However, this past November WOMEN broke through the barriers like no other year including the “Year of the Women 1992” including internationally — notably Claudia Sheinbaum was elected as Mayor of Mexico City. She did her postdoctoral research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley.

WOMEN did not wait to be asked, they stepped up to the plate for their constituents‘ needs, healthcare, equity, protecting Social Security, Medicare, jobs to name a few. Five hundred eighty-nine WOMEN said they would run or ran. WOMEN won 102 house seats beating a previous record of 85 wins. They took 14 Senate seats and 9 governors‘ mansions.

There were many firsts for WOMEN: 45 WOMEN of color, 37 to the House for the first time; Ayanna Pressley, first WOMEN elected to Congress in Mass and Krysten Senema first WOMEN senator in Arizona. Janet Mills and Kristi Noem were elected to first WOMEN governorships in Maine and South Dakota respectively. Sharice Davids and Debra Haaland were the first Native Americans gaining seats in Congress. And the list goes on. As I read through the stats, I was surprised at the firsts. Really, in 2018, the first WOMEN Senator to Arizona. It was an impressive Mid-terms for WOMEN. These are seats of leadership which in turn encourage other WOMEN to go into Political Science and governing. We need to support these WOMEN.

And here in our county Heidi Harmon was enthusiastically re-elected as Mayor in SLO. In our own Atascadero City government, we now have a WOMEN Mayor, Heather Mareno, along with our newly elected Susan Funk who will sit with Roberta Fonzi on our City Council.

How do WOMEN perceive themselves? The human brain is notoriously susceptible in our society to stereotype men as being leaders more than WOMEN. A WOMEN will only become president when we, WOMEN, who have huge clout in the voting booth, change our biases about what a president looks like and support more WOMEN in higher education, private industry and in our government. Our country needs strong leaders from both genders and in particular strong female leadership.


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