As we head to the ever important 2018 midterm elections in a few weeks, we need to discuss the sensitive topic of gender equality. Gender equality is not just some topic that can be scoffed at and taken lightly. Gender equality is something to witness and be exposed to in everyday life in which people can create their own beliefs based on their own personal experiences. Gender equality has been an even more pressing issue with recent events like the Senate’s decision to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Despite being in 2018, we as a country still see the effects of gender inequality. In an article written by Business Insider, this past August, studies show that the average gender wage gap is 19.5%. What’s more, today we find that the average woman is being paid 80.5 cents for every dollar a man makes in the national workforce. This translates to women receiving $10,086 less on their median annual earnings. These statistics also translate to how men and women are being treated in everyday life. It is thanks to the widespread popularity of the #MeToo movement that studies have revealed that more people have been sexually harassed and assaulted than previously recorded. A survey by the nonprofit organization Stop Street Harassment revealed that, based on a sample size of 2,000 adults, 81 percent of women compared to 43 percent of men have claimed to have experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault in their lives.
Now, what does this all have to do with the 2018 midterm elections? For those who do not know, the midterm elections will decide who will control the United States Congress under the next two years of Donald Trump’s administration. According to FiveThirtyEight, while Democrats have a 6 in 7 chance at controlling the House, Republicans have a 7 in 9 chance at controlling the Senate.
Ever since the earth-shattering election of Donald Trump in 2016, many women have reacted to his sexist rhetoric and policies by taking an active role in politics. In fact, the 2018 midterm elections are already showing some historically unprecedented numbers as there are already 256 women who are on the voting ballot in November. There are currently 84 women in the House of Representatives and 23 women in the Senate, meaning these 256 female candidates are looking to change the male-dominated U.S. Congress. The numbers also show that Democrats are nominating more women than Republicans. A few candidates that stand out are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jahana Hayes, Katie Hill, and Paulette Jordan.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez won New York’s 14th congressional district this past June by upsetting incumbent Joseph Crowley and could become the youngest House member in U.S. history. Ms. Hayes is running to become the first African-American to be elected to Connecticut’s 5th district as she runs against fellow Democrat Mary Glassman. Ms. Hill is running for California’s 25th district as a Democrat against Republican Steve North. Ms. Hill, who is also a nurse and a nonprofit executive, will be one of the youngest members of Congress if she wins in the midterm elections. Finally, Ms. Jordan might have the most interesting backstory of all. She is a Native American who is running to be Governor of Idaho. Jordan grew up in Coeur d’Alene in rural Idaho and has been surrounded by Native American heritage since birth. If Jordan wins in November against Republican Brad Little, she will become the first Democratic governor in Idaho since 1995 as well as the first Native American governor in United States history.
The 2018 midterm elections are set to behold many historic results. Even though some might say that American politics have become more polarized, I see signs of opportunity and hope. For women, these midterm elections are essential for not only voicing their own opinions, but also for creating new paths of independence and social representation. For candidates such as Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Jahana Hayes, Katie Hill and Paulette Jordan, they are looking not only to represent the people from their district, but also to represent how women can break and defy the status quo in U.S. politics.