IBJOpinion

Why women matter

October 22, 2011
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IBJ Letters To The Editor

The Mayor’s Office in Indianapolis is not in step with women. Out of 17 top positions, the administration has only one appointment that is a woman. In addition, this is the first time since Richard Lugar was mayor there is not a woman as deputy mayor.

Women make up the majority of the American voting population, and utilizing them in the political system brings different attitudes, priorities and perspectives. It is clear that when women are at the policymaking table, the conversation changes, says Karen O’Conner, director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University in Washington, D.C. O’Conner asserts that the presence of women in legislative bodies makes a significant difference not only in what gets discussed, but also in what kinds of legislation are advanced. Three decades of research proves that:

• Women conceptualize problems differently and are more likely to offer new solutions;

• Women legislators of both parties are more likely to advance “women’s issues,” define women’s issues more broadly than men, put them at the top of their legislative agendas, and to take a leadership role in those issue areas. This results in bills dealing with children, education and health care becoming legislative priorities;

• Women are more likely to view crime as a societal, rather than individual, problem;

• Women legislators are more likely to make certain that their policy positions are translated into new programs to help women;

• Women legislators receive more constituent casework requests than their male colleagues and are three times more likely to agree that they would do more if they had more staff;

• Women not only are more responsive to constituent requests, they are more likely to be persistent in their follow through to get a favorable resolution for their constituents;

Women across America are creating small businesses that not only provide goods and services, but put people back to work. In addition, research has shown that when women are present in leadership positions, the bottom line improves—from financial profits to the quality and scope of decision making.

In order to change this equation, women must vote in the upcoming election. Criticizing one another as we’ve seen in recent advertising impedes our efforts to position women in key roles within our government.

____________

Billie Dragoo
RepuCare Inc.

Deborah Collins Stephens
author, speaker, consultant

Denise Herd
Herd Strategies LLC

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