The Women Representing You
By Kileigh Ford
In lieu of the current political climate, it’s important to remember that there are women representing the female population of the United States in and outside of the government. Women are currently represented by twenty-three female senators in the US Senate, eighty-four women in the House of Representatives (plus five territorial delegates), three Supreme Court Justices, seven high-level presidential appointments, six female governors, twelve lieutenant governors, two state controllers, and one chief state education official. In terms of the areas in which the biggest, countrywide impacts are made, women make up 33% of the Supreme Court, 23% of the US Senate and 19.3% of the House of Representatives. In a country where the population is 51% male and 49% female, one would think that in order to be ‘representative’ of the country they are representing, these numbers of the division would be closer. Slowly growing in numbers, the representation of women continues to go up, but before you totally lose your faith in politics, here are the women you should know are looking out for you.
With seventeen Democrats and six Republicans, the female makeup of the Senate spans to every area of the country. Both senators from California, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Washington are female Democrats, while Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, New York, Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Illinois have one female Democrat serving as one of the senators. Alaska, Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, West Virginia each have a female Republican serving as one of their senators. Twenty-three out of one hundred Senate spots belong to women. While this may not seem like an overwhelmingly large number, it is a big increase from the three women in the Senate that served before 2000 (Dianne Feinstein (D) of California was elected in 1992, Patty Murray (D) of Washington was elected in 1993, and Susan Collins (R) of Maine was elected in 1997.
The eighty-four women that rule in the House of Representatives hold great diversity but are not representative of the states. With thirty-four women of color, eighteen African-American women, seven Pacific island women, and nine Hispanic women, there is greater diversity in the House of Representatives than in the Senate. While there is racial diversity, many of the members of the House of Representatives represent the larger states that typically go blue. New York has eight female representatives and California has seventeen female representatives, leaving fifty-nine female representatives between forty-eight states. In total, eighty-four women out of four-hundred and ninety-five representatives is just under the same percentage of gender makeup as the Senate. So, while the number may seem small compared to the number of representatives overall, their impact is just as powerful as our women in the Senate.
For our three leading ladies in the Supreme Court, we have Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. These tough, powerful women have battled gender and racial discrimination throughout their entire lives and regardless of who the newly appointed justice of the Supreme Court ends up being, they will persist to remain impartial powerhouses in their seats. These are the women who will continue to fight for women’s rights in the face of the current nominee.
Elected in 1993, Ginsburg has fought gender discrimination for that totality of her time as a justice and life. Being one of nine women in a five hundred person class at Harvard Law, Ginsburg is no stranger to struggle and loss. While maintaining her own education, Ruth Bader Ginsburg led her family, cared for her cancer-stricken husband, and assisted in him keeping up with his education. After experiencing great gender discrimination in the working world, despite graduating first in her class from Columbia Law, Ruth worked against gender discrimination in the Supreme Court, after being appointed by Clinton. Her philosophy that “major social change should not come from the courts, but from Congress and other legislatures” has influenced her opinions in momentous cases like United States vs Virginia and Ledbetter vs Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
Sonia Sotomayor has spent her life working for equality of Hispanic groups. As the first Hispanic Supreme Court justices, Sotomayor has worked hard to protect affirmative action programs. She was a proponent in the Obergefell vs Hodges in legalizing same-sex marriage and has upheld the Affordable Care Act. She’s been heavily involved in notable cases such as Silverman vs Major League Baseball Player Relations (while on the District Court for Southern New York), Castle Rock Entertainment, Inc. vs Carol Publishing Group, Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission, and Schuette vs Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. With Sonia Sotomayor in office, you can be sure that minority rights will be stood up for with a strong fight.
Elena Kagan, as the youngest sitting member of the Supreme Court, is an academic and a wild card known for being in touch with youth and pop culture. With no prior judicial experience, Elena Kagan was appointed to the Supreme Court by Barack Obama in 2010. Kagan is known for her belief in boosting the court’s decision, therefore she does not often write concurring arguments. She’s been a big proponent in the cases King vs Burwell, and Obergefell vs Hodges.
With the increase in women representing in two branches of the government, there is change on the horizon. The number of women in the Senate, House of Representatives, and Supreme Court will hopefully keep on its upward trajectory during the next decade. Despite a fratty, truly non impartial, and hot-headed nominee creeping up the ladder to the end point of Supreme Court Justice, there are three strong, powerful women that will be sitting right next to him and numerous representatives who will be fighting against everything he has been accused of.
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