Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Press Release I Wish We Had Issued

Then There Were 18: Martha Coakley’s Victory in Massachusetts Means that More Women than Ever Before Now Serve in the U.S. Senate

Washington, DC – American University’s Women & Politics Institute (WPI) applauds Massachusetts voters and Martha Coakley for making history. Coakley, the attorney general in Massachusetts, will be the first woman Senator from Massachusetts and the fifth woman ever to join Massachusetts’ congressional delegation. Coakley’s election brings the total number of women in the U.S. Senate to an all-time high of 18.

Dr. Jennifer L. Lawless, Director of the Women & Politics Institute, recognized the significance of Coakley’s win, but tempered her enthusiasm by reminding us that U.S. political institutions are dominated by men. “Martha Coakley’s victory is an important step forward for women’s representation,” Lawless said. “Yet when Senator-elect Coakley is seated, 82 percent of the members of the U.S. Senate will still be men. Eighty-five nations surpass the United States when it comes to the percentage of women in the national legislature. We can and must do better.”


It's hard not to be disappointed by Martha Coakley's defeat. If only...

The good news? Last night's election reinvigorated discussions about the state of women's political representation. Search the web and you'll find articles and arguments from all kinds of sources: from Politico to the Daily Beast, Mediaite to Newsweek, and many more.

Many people are shocked to learn that there are only 17 women in the U.S. Senate. "Don't women make up more than half of the population?" a friend recently asked. I reminded him that women also vote more regularly than men. "17? Really?"

Yep. Only 17.

Thanks to the media coverage that Massachusetts attracted, a few more people out there now know that startling statistic.

If we want more women to serve, we need more women to win because when women run, they are just as likely as men to win.

Martha Coakley might not be number 18, but some other woman out there most surely is. Are you out there number 18?