Women in Politics

Women in Politics In 2013 men still earn disproportionally more than women, on average 30% more, (which lends to my

Women in Politics In 2013 men still earn disproportionally more than women, on average 30% more,

(which lends to my theory that men should also (disproportionately)  pick up the dinner tab… Ladies don’t be fooled with the “going Dutch” thing.  We are not in a Dutch providence after all!)

Men also hold the award for securing the most senior leadership posts in both business and politics,

According to a 2013 report by from Center for American Women and Politics, women hold 18% of US congressional seats and 20% of US senatorial seats. Those same stats are similar in New Jersey.

Conversely, women vote significantly higher in every demographic than men. According to www.dailyinfograic.com, during the last presidential election 65.7% of women voted vs. 61.5% of men. 

Women are perpetually wooed by politicians for their votes on election day. Yet when it comes to a woman running for a power seat that same crooning is hard to come by.

In 2008 many thought Hilary Clinton was the obvious Democratic nominee. Amidst her hard fought campaign, her appearance was scrutinized more than her political platform.

In 2012, Michele Bachmann was portrayed as a wide-eyed, crazed Republican politician on the cover of Newsweek.

In politics, for women, what you wear and how you look are not some what important- they are of paramount importance! Same as a women’s

personal relationship.

Men tend to focus on something a bit different, like their political platform.

In 2008, Republican presidential candidate John McCain attempted to keep his political ideals at the forefront. Yet, what ignited conversation and debate was his running mate, Sarah Palin.  News outlets had a joyous time  not with her ideology but what she wore and her preggers, unmarried daughter. 

Let’s be honest, McCain had no chance of winning. Nevertheless, many would agree, the media frenzy around Palin- add on funny woman Tina Fey’s portrayal of Palin, equaled epic fail for the McCain campaign.

In New Jersey, state Senator Barbara Buono (D18), the first woman to run for governor since Christie Todd Whitman, has failed to secure full support of the highly male dominated Democratic body.  Historically, New Jersey’s political parties have been caldrons of testosterone. So are political heavy hitters like Joe D. and Brian Stack not endorsing or showing full support for their Democratic mates or is it perhaps the white elephant in the room, the perception that state democrats don’t believe she can win. Or could it be the possibly be the fear of retaliation from a politically powerful governor? Perhaps all of the above… 

What’s for certain, Democrats don’t seem to be overly excited about a Buono candidacy.

There is yet another interesting dynamic-if Bouno wins-fantastic! She would become only the second woman ever to hold the seat and the first Democrat.  Yet, if she loses by a reasonable margin-she might be, just might be ok. Bleakly, if she looses by a significant margin, her political career could be unsalvageable. 

Conversely, men (insert one) who lose, even by significant margins, live to see a better day, not to mention, in many cases a bigger paycheck. Just take for example, Jim McGreevy-who left the gubernatorial seat-hat in hand, marriage in ruins. Now he is a best selling-author and activist for marriage equality.

Is this the trend in New Jersey, that women are overlooked and under-represented?

A couple of weeks ago at a community forum in Paterson, Gov. Christie failed to mention Speaker Shelia Oliver by name or elected position, an omission many women translated as the highest form of disrespect not to mention sexism.  Alarmingly apparent-the dismissive attitudes toward women by some elected officials, even though women hold the power of the seat via the vote.

Few can argue that to survive in politics as a woman it takes certain grit, tenacity and bounce back-ness, characteristics that women working in politics or running for a political seat must carry in their auxiliary bag.  

Jersey City’s (Ward E) council candidate Candice Osborne knows all too well the intricacies of running in a male dominated field.  A single mom and NYU Business School graduate,  Osborne has succeeded in her professional endeavors.  Can the same be replicated for her political career?

An Atlanta native with a southern draw, Osborne is supported by mayoral candidate-top contender Steven Fulop.  Although a southern native she is not blindsided by the male-dominated field of politics.  “This is about doing your job and working hard” said Osborne.  No question that hard works pays off, but it still takes a bit of grit to maneuver in the piranha tank called politics.

Often times it takes a little help. Osborne recommends identifying a strong mentor. Osborne had the benefit of being mentored by academia heavy hitter Sheila Wellington. Wellington is an executive in residence of NYU Stern School of Business, an author and first woman VP of Yale University.

Her thoughts on women in politics: ‘get a mentor-someone you can relate to’ and if you can find one, call her, she would be more than willing

In Newark, Lynda Lloyd has decided to run in the council-at-large election to fill US Congressman Donald Payne’s vacated seat this November. 

Lloyd, a lover of politics since she was a child, is not part of any political machine or backed by any of the usual Newark power brokers.  She is, however, supported by a group of committed women, who called me one after another to confess their support. And Lloyd will need every one of those women to help her cover ground for her GOTV efforts.

So committed to democracy, Lloyd formed Urban Unite during the presidential campaign to bank votes for the national election. No question she will smartly leverage that list for her upcoming GOTV efforts.

When asked if she was being supported by any of the leading women in local politics, she said, although, she has “very good relationships (with) council members and the like” she is not being supported by any of them, including the only woman on council, Councilwoman Mildred Crump, who will most likely support Johns James Jr. Nevertheless, Lloyd is committed to winning the seat and putting in the hard work to do so. 

Her call to action for women: Look at her like their daughter or grand daughter-feel the same pride in her that you would in your own. 

When asked who she is supporting for mayor in 2014, she says “No commitment to any one yet-I want to hear their platform and marry that to their history of public service, then I’ll decide.”

Joyce Harley Esq., former mayor of South Orange, has had her share of political battles, many of which she has won.  Harley has mentored a number of young women, namely Brandi Colander-who is Deputy General Council for the White House Counsel on Environmental Quality. 

Harley acknowledges that being a politician is difficult- but being a women who is a politician or working in political field is a whole separate ball game.  She notes there is a separate  dynamic when you are women in politics. 

She suggests that you start with your base and shore it up-that ensures that when the political tides inevitably change, your base will provide cover. 

Harley galvanized her base of church, business and community members and raised over $1 million dollars for her election. Yet she notes that fundraising is perhaps the dominate factor in women making the decision if to run or not.

Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-35), adds, “You have to know the difference between your friends and your political friends. Your friends have no real skin in the game-they simply love you and want to support you in what ever you do. Your political friends-you have matched goals-however that may not always remain constant. Knowing the difference between the two is crucial.”

In Sheryl Sandberg’s best selling book “Lean In” she notes it is not easy being as a women in a men’s world. Nevertheless, “We hold ourselves back in both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands and by pulling back when we should be leaning in!’

For women of all ages who want to work in politics or run for political office, I encourage you to check out Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics-‘Ready to Run’ series. Also check out Lupes’ Latina Summit –statewide conference for Latina Women or Higher for America an organization seeking to elevate the voices of women. Emerge New Jersey- chooses a cohort of women who they train for political office than assist in fundraising.  And do your self a favor read Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” it’s a must read! Women in Politics