The State of the American Woman.

by Meredith O’Brien


During the same week when U.S. women celebrated the 90th anniversary of their right to vote, my daughter turned 12. While I looked at her, I wondered, “Where do American women stand as she herself stands on the precipice of her teenage years?”


According to American University’s Women & Politics Institute, things aren’t so grand in the political realm. The Institute reported that that American women rank 85th “in percentage of women serving in the national legislature.” Also: “When the 111th Congress convened in January 2009, 83 percent of its members were men. Three-quarters of statewide elected officials and state legislators are men. Men occupy the governor’s mansion in 44 of the 50 states, and they run City Hall in 89 of the 100 largest cities across the country.” Currently, Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics says that women comprise only 16.8 percent of Congressional seats.


These numbers, frankly, depress me. As the mother of a daughter, I want her to look out on the world and see possibility not disheartening statistics showing women still don’t have comparable numbers to their male colleagues, at least not politically or in the world of business, where 14 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women.


For her birthday, my 12-year-old gal soccer player and resident Mia Hamm fan requested as one of her birthday gifts that we take her to a women’s soccer game because she said – rightly so – that we take the family to mostly men’s sporting events (like college men’s basketball games, Red Sox games, Celtics, etc.). She’s already observed that it’s an infrequent occurrence to see female athletes or sports competitions as highly promoted or profiled in the media and by fans, as male athletes or sports events are. (A recent study found that only a teeny, tiny handful of minutes are devoted to women’s sports on the biggest sports network in the nation, ESPN.)