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Where Are The Women?

I already miss Speaker Nancy Pelosi. During the President’s state of the union addresses it was reassuring to see her sitting behind him. It will take some time for me to get used to John Boehner, not only because of his different politics, but also because once again, the Congress is returning to an old boys club. The House Republican leadership, known as Boehner’s boys, is – well, yes, boys. Nancy Pelosi is running for minority leader, so there may be one female face in the huddles around microphones in Congress. But for the first time in 30 years, the number of women in the U.S. House of Representatives is likely to drop. In 2010 women comprised 17% of the Congress, giving us the distinction of placing 73rd – yes – 73rd – in the world. The Republican sweep was the big story of the mid-term election, but a sub-text is that it was not a good year for female candidates of either party. Yes, women got a lot of press, and much of it was not good. Extreme candidates like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, Sharron Angle in Nevada and Linda McMahon in Connecticut didn’t make it. Wealthy candidates, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, who spent bundles of their own money, didn’t succeed in California. But the perception was that women were running everywhere. In fact, a few more women ran for office, but a few less won. Republican women, like Republican men, did better than before. In 2010, 56 democratic and 17 republican women have been in the House. That proportion will change slightly as seven new Republican and four new democratic women will take their seats. A Republican woman, Kelly Ayotte, was elected to the Senate from New Hampshire. News was made in South Carolina, which had the distinction of having zero women in the state Senate, but now has made history by electing a Republican woman of color as Governor. The first woman of color from Alabama was elected to the U.S. House. The conclusion of this election cycle is that there was a lot of noise about female candidates, but not much action. We had assumed that women were making progress towards the goal of equal representation. The numbers tell us, we have to work harder, to inspire more women to run, at every level. Coming off of one of the most negative campaign seasons in history, this may be a hard sell. Our only alternative is to give political leadership back to the boys, and so far, they haven’t done all that well in responding to America’s hopes and fears. No mater how nasty politics is, and it’s not about to change soon, women and men have to work for more women to win more seats at the tables where the decisions about jobs, global warming, education, health care will be made. We can’t afford to be marked “absent.” Read the original article on The Huffington Post. Madeleine M. Kunin is the author of Pearls, Politics, and Power: How Women Can Win and Lead, available now.

Pushing Forward With Paid Leave, Workplace Flexibility for All

“Five of us were meeting for lunch and reminiscing about the women’s movement. ‘I was never one of those angry women,’ one said. ‘I’m still angry,’ I blurted. My reaction surprised both me and my friends. Where did that come from? A source I hadn’t tapped before. Upon reflection, I realized that I’m not angry […] Read More..

The Business Case for Workplace Flexibility: How Employers and Employees Can “Have it All”

“Job Killer.” Those are the two words you are most likely to hear uttered by most American CEOs when confronted with proposals to enact family-friendly work policies. This was true in the battles for earned sick days, paid maternity leave, increases in the minimum wage, and even workplace flexibility. Sure, there are exceptions. In fact, […] Read More..

A Cathedral to Democracy

The Strafford Town House is commanding. It is easily mistaken for a church because of the  white spire that reaches for the sky.  Set up on a steep hill; the giant structure forces you to look up to it, from the more fittingly modest village common. Now boasting a population of 1,045, what were the […] Read More..

Spring Has Returned to Vermont

Who could have thought that May would bring us so many hues of green? We feel refreshed just by slowly gazing at the trees in all their newborn shades. For a brief period, our thoughts can turn away from the bold black headlines of the daily news, and our ears can silence the angry voices […] Read More..

Why Girls Should Create Video Games

Why are video games so violent? The ones I’ve seen remind me of the 4th of July, with everything exploding, buildings, cars, airplanes, men and women. Kill, kill, and kill for sport and entertainment. Video games seem to be mostly a boy thing — viewed by young boys and created by big boys. I believe […] Read More..