(Normally leave blank. Articles with numeric priorities are placed in order at the top of the page. Examples: 1, 2.5)
(The article will be automatically archived on this date.)
(Use existing categories when possible. Separate categories with commas.)
Image Upload
Image position:

Event date (Leave event fields blank if this is not an event announcement.)
Event time
Event end date
Event end time
Event location
Event color
This event recurs every until .
This is not a recurring event.

UsernameForgot username
PasswordForgot password
We will send you an email immediately to which you must respond
within one hour to complete your registration.
Your login name will be your first name and last name separated
with a space.
Your first name
Your last name
Your street address
Your city
Your state
Your zipcode
Your phone number
Your email address
Choose a password
Confirm your password
You can change your account settings or delete your account here.
Street address
Email address
New Password
Confirm New Password
Edit  DeleteExpires Sep 23, 2014

By Allison Guevara

Santa Cruz Sentinel: 10/05/2013

With more than 100 women in attendance, the Breaking the Glass Ballot event on Sept. 28 showed there is no shortage of talented and caring women who want to serve our community. The scene, however, clashed with what we see in the California Legislature and on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, which are 26 percent and 0 percent female respectively. Clearly, the political gender gap is not due to a lack of interest or motivation in women, but reflects structural barriers we must remove.

Besides the obvious fact that women are half the population and deserve an equal voice, Mary Hughes, founder of Closing the Gap California, described how having more women in leadership roles benefits society as a whole. Female representatives introduce more legislation and cultivate bigger support groups for those laws. Federal districts with female representatives bring in more federal dollars. Likewise, in the private sector, diverse investment boards profit more.

However, a high cost of living, wage inequality, lack of affordable child care, and family responsibilities are major barriers to campaigning and serving in public office. Women leaders have been left to face these challenges largely on their own.

Santa Cruz Mayor Hilary Bryant shared a story of her 5-year-old daughter, plastered to the front door, tears streaming down her face, begging her mom not to leave for another political event -- this while the mayor struggles to pay for sufficient child care to cover a full-time job with half-time pay.

Cynthia Chase, program director of the celebrated nonprofit, Gemma, seemed to stump all of us when she asked for advice on seeking public office as a single woman who holds down three jobs to make ends meet.  Some suggested she run for the well-compensated county supervisor position, despite the financial risk such a campaign might entail. Others just said that if there's a will, there's a way.

We can do better. Having more women in leadership serves the public good, so we need to find collective, public solutions to involve more women.

We are seeing some recent gains that will help foster the economic foothold working women need to pursue public office such as the Affordable Care Act, the expansion of California Paid Family Leave, and the statewide minimum wage increase. But to really give women a fair shot, further changes are called for. The Santa Cruz Community Assessment Project shows that both parents in a four-person family need to work full time at $18 per hour to get by. This is why we need more jobs with livable wages, and why we need to institute stronger equal-pay protections to address the 27 percent pay lag faced by women. Furthermore, with child care easily costing $1,000 per month per child in our area, it's not surprising that a majority of both Democrat and Republican voters support government funding of quality early child care and education. Women and their allies need to put this initiative on the front burner. In the meantime, another simple step our local government can take is to offer childcare stipends for parents serving in public office.

As community members, we can all help bridge the political gender gap by volunteering for female candidates, inviting children to meetings, offering free babysitting or healthy meals, cultivating flexible work arrangements, and of course, by voting. Political gurus and current electeds especially should follow the lead of the Breaking the Glass Ballot organizers and start tapping more women on the shoulder.

Let's tell our sisters that they do not have to go it alone, and let's walk the talk by promoting policies and practices that enfranchise women. Diverse, representative leadership is good for everyone.

Allison Guevara is a local mom and labor activist.

Nancy Abbey2015-07-01T16:50:47Z
Login to leave a comment.
Leave a comment
File Upload
Use rich text editor

Multiple item entry (Return separates items)