Is Childcare Holding Women Back From Running for Office?

In the Green Bay Press Gazette there’s an interesting article about Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin, noting that if she wins it’d be a first for the state.

“Wisconsin voters have never sent a woman to the Senate or elected a female to serve as governor,” writes reporter Michael Louis Vinson.

Sadly that’s true. The Center for American Women and Politics (source for the image above), shows that 23 states have never had a woman governor.  Four states have never had any Congressional Representatives or Senators. And since there have only been 39 women Senators in history there are a LOT of states that have never sent a woman to the Senate. (Definitely check out this link to see more information about women’s current and past representation in Congressional seats and state legislatures.)

In any case there’s lots of interesting quotes in this article about the gender imbalance in Wisconsin (and elsewhere) but it was this quote by former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, who was the first woman elected to that position, caught our eye.

Lawton said a lack of access to high-quality, affordable child care sometimes restricts women from entering public life.

“If you serve in the Legislature either at the state level or at the federal level, you’re going to need overnight baby sitters,” Lawton said. “Certainly a state legislator’s salary isn’t going to pay that … As more women necessarily have to be in the workplace and more families absolutely have to have two incomes and more women are heads of households, they can’t afford it.”

Why aren’t young children a barrier to male state legislators? Presumably male legislators with young children have the same child care needs that women legislators do. Oh that’s right, because child care is primarily a woman’s responsibility in this country and holds back women’s careers but never their partners.

But definitely read the rest of the article.


Published by Kate McCarthy on 01/09/2012

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