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Why Women Don T Run Analysis

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Why Women Don’t Run: Understanding the Gender Gap in Politics

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, is said to have revolutionized the structure of the Canadian government this past November with his policy for a gender-balanced cabinet. For the first time in Canadian history, the Canadian parliament sits with a 50% female and 50% male cabinet as a reflection of Canada’s diversity (Murphy). Yet what may have stunned citizens even more than the country’s step towards gender equality, was Trudeau’s explanation for the gender parity: “because it’s 2015” (Murphy). Despite it being the 21st century, a century that strives for gender equality in all areas of life, the political arena still “appears somewhat stuck in time” (The Canadian Press).
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Gender stereotypes–oversimplified ideas of female or male qualities and mannerisms–exist in all areas of life. In the political sphere, stereotypes, such as women not being outspoken or authoritative, negatively influence women and pose barriers to those who are running for political leadership positions. Because women are stereotypically viewed as “warm, gentle, kind, and passive,” in comparison to the typical man that is viewed as “tough, aggressive and assertive,” women feel that their qualities are not suited for political candidacy (Huddy, Nayda). Women are indirectly told through stereotyping that the political arena is unsuitable for their gender; therefore, they pursue careers they feel are suitable for their “feminine” character traits. The higher level of male participation, in comparison to female participation, in political elections is not because the electoral environment “favours” stereotypical male qualities, but rather, the campaigning, and public speaking aspects of the election process are perceived as unsuitable for women. Furthermore, a study conducted in 2014 discovered that voters tend to assign “positive leadership traits to male politicians,” whereas female politicians are repeatedly depicted as having “other characteristics that are not equated with political leadership” such as their physical image (Thomas, Kei). Much like in everyday life, stereotypes drive women to believe they are not capable of running for office or unlikely to win elections despite their exceeding qualifications. Even though stereotypes will always exist, it is important for young women to reflect on their leadership qualities and not allow deeply-rooted stereotypes in the political arena to impede their pursuit of a career in
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