First woman nominee: not enough

There needs to be more women running for office at all levels of government.

Zari Tarazona HeadshotOn July 26, at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, history was made as the first woman — Hillary Clinton — was nominated to be president by a major political party. Clinton’s nomination at the DNC was historic for women, but female representation in government will still remain low even if Clinton wins the presidency.

Robin Kolodny, chair of the political science department, explains this is because of a supply problem.

“In fact, what we now know, is that it’s women themselves who are getting in the way,” Kolodny said. “In other words, they don’t run as often, that is the bottom line.”

Kolodny said in the Citizen Political Ambition Study from the book “It Takes A Candidate: Why Women Don’t Run for Office,” a group of men and women who were all seen as potential candidates based on their professions were asked if they had ever considered running for office or if they had ever been asked about it. The men in the study mostly said they had either thought about it or had been asked about it, but the opposite was true for women.

“And most importantly, here’s the kicker: they didn’t think they were qualified,” Kolodny said.

But most of the time, when women do run, they perform just as well as their male counterparts, Kolodny said.

Kelly Dawson, vice president of services for Temple Student Government, was unsure if she had the qualifications to run for vice president last spring because she felt TSG never previously interested her.

“I realized once campaigning started that, first of all, you can kind of pick up on it, and not everyone has to know everything about TSG ahead of time,” Dawson, a senior psychology and economics major, said. “You just have to know what you want to see from Temple and what students want.”

Dawson said she has begun to seriously consider a future in public service because of how much she enjoyed campaigning.

During last spring’s TSG elections, there was only one woman running for student body president on the four competing tickets — Tina Ngo of Take TU. And the last time TSG had a woman student body president was Natalie Ramos-Castillo during the 2010-2011 school year.

While it may seem self-explanatory, if there were more women running for president in the next TSG elections, then the chances for another woman student body president would increase. This is also true for local, state, and national elections. Having women in office is dependent on women running for office.


“It’s not that voters won’t vote for women, it’s not that people don’t think women are competent, it’s just that the typical American [voter] never has a woman on the ballot,” Kolodny said.

“It’s not that voters won’t vote for women, it’s not that people don’t think women are competent, it’s just that the typical American [voter] never has a woman on the ballot,” Kolodny said.

Perhaps the lack of female representation in government elections is due to the number of potential women candidates who are mothers. Sadly, it seems society cannot separate women from outdated gender roles and many in the general public see motherhood as conflicting with candidacy. Women candidates often receive criticism for being away from their children, but motherhood shouldn’t make women feel like less qualified candidates.

“As soon as a woman starts to show her interest in running they say, ‘Well, how are you going to take care of your kids,’ which they never say to a male candidate,” Kolodny said.

Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House of Representatives and mother of five, waited until her youngest child was a high school senior before running for Congress in 1987.

Clinton did not have to worry about this particular criticism because her daughter Chelsea is 36 years old. But when Clinton’s granddaughter was born in September 2014, many people questioned whether Clinton would still make a presidential run — as if running for office and being a grandmother are mutually exclusive.

Clearly, that is not the case. Right here in Pennsylvania, Clinton currently holds an eight-point lead over Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, according to

And while the first woman president would be another huge milestone for women’s equality, the lack of female representation in all levels of government will not be fixed with one woman.

“I think that the issues for women are structural and institutional and electing a woman president is not going to have a material difference,” said Sandra Suarez, a political science professor.

My hope is that more women candidates come forward after seeing Clinton clinch her party’s nomination and that these women receive the necessary public and political support to run for and hold government offices.

Zari Tarazona can be reached at

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.