I would like to chime in on my colleague Mary Kate Cary's observations on Democratic women outnumbering Republican women in Congress. Hasn't it always been thus? Democratic women in Congress have certainly outnumbered Republican women by margins similar to the one Mary Kate cites since I covered Congress for the now-defunct UPI Radio Network in the late 1980s.
Republican women have achieved some notable political firsts. Maine Republican Margaret Chase Smith spent 24 years in the Senate, starting in 1948, and became the first woman elected to both chambers of Congress.
My colleague blames some of the differences on geography:
Some of it is geography--Democrats have a stronger hold on voters in the Northeast and West, where women are more easily elected, than in the South where a predominately male GOP has historically been stronger. Some of it is demographics, meaning that more women these days identify themselves as Democrats and are more likely to run for office as a Democrat.
I think the main reason, however, is that Republican women are generally more traditional than Democratic women, who tend to be more progressive. Therefore, GOP women are more likely to be fulltime homemakers or to work part-time and not to pursue all-consuming careers such as politics. Republican women like former Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio) have even agreed with me in conversation that this is the case.
This does not mean all Democratic women want to run for office or be CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, or that all GOP women want to be homemakers. Certainly not. But the majority fall into those stereotypes and that is the main reason I believe the numbers are skewed in Democrats' favor.
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By Bonnie Erbe