We’ve heard a lot of people say things like, “You can’t vote for Hillary just because she’s a woman.”
In the most abstract sense, that’s sort of true. It seems unlikely that anyone who considers themselves politically progressive would advise voting for, say, Sarah Palin over Barack Obama just because of the former’s gender—especially given their stark political differences.
But, in the context of the 2016 presidential race, it would also be a mistake to not consider the potential influence of Hillary Clinton’s womanhood when we’re weighing our choices. Here’s why:
1.Our Democracy Would Be Stronger
In an ideal democracy, the demographics of government representatives match up with the population. Although women make up just over 50 percent of the American population, they only occupy 20 percent of Congress, according to Catalyst.org. Electing a woman to an office that’s historically been held by men won’t fix this imbalance, but it would be a start.
2.Women Make the Best Leaders
When given the opportunity, that is. According to a study published by Development Dimensions International, companies with the greatest numbers of women in leadership roles perform the best financially, and a recent survey found that female entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed than their male counterparts. This shouldn’t be surprising: We still have to work harder to get the same recognition and pay as men, and are less likely than men to seek positions for which we may be underqualified. As a result, women who secure leadership roles are often significantly more qualified for the job than their male counterparts. On top of that, a recent Pew poll shows that over a third of Americans believe female politicians are better than men at working out compromises and being honest and ethical. (Over half said that men and women are equally good at these things).
3.It Will Help Other Women Land Leadership Roles
Despite all the progress women have made, the glass ceiling is still very real, and outdated notions about women’s roles and abilities are still shockingly prevalent. Seeing a woman excel in one of the most powerful roles in the world has the potential to change hearts and minds in ways that could make a huge difference for other women struggling to land leadership roles and equal pay. Another Pew poll revealed that a majority of Americans believe having more women in leadership roles would improve the quality of life for all women.
4.Women Fight for Women’s Rights
The old feminist adage “the personal is political” still holds true, and a president who’s had her own experiences navigating issues like reproductive health and parental leave may be more likely to fight for our rights. Ultimately, a bunch of old men simply should not be the ones deciding what thousands of women can and cannot do with their own bodies.
5.Women Work Together, Regardless of Politics
When gridlock shut down the federal government in 2013, nearly every female senator joined the cry for compromise. Republican Senator Susan Collins told the New York Times, “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that women were so heavily involved in trying to end this stalemate. Although we span the ideological spectrum, we are used to working together in a collaborative way.” Research published in the journal Politics, Groups, and Identities supports the notion that more women in office would lead to less fighting, more legislation passed, and less gridlock. “This research suggests that while both men and women are influenced by partisan group dynamics, men are affected more strongly to the detriment of deliberative democracy,” write the study’s authors.
6.She’d Make History
It was recently revealed that Hillary Clinton’s short list of vice presidential candidates includes at least one woman, which the Boston Globe notes would “double down on the historic nature of Clinton’s candidacy.” Some are speculating that maybe Elizabeth Warren could wind up in the White House after all.
7.Little Girls (and Boys) Need to See It
Following New York’s recent primary, a (male) friend of mine posted on Facebook, “Voting is a personal decision, so do whatever feels right to you. But I didn’t have much of a choice after my 6-year-old daughter told me, ‘I think it would be really good to see what it’s like to have a girl president.’” The magic of having a woman president prove to American girls that they really can do anything they set their minds to—not to mention showing them that a career in politics can be fulfilling and meaningful—