Gender Still Matters


Madeleine May Kunin; former governor of Vermont and author of “The New Feminist Agenda, Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work and Family;” discusses why gender is still a crucial issue—we have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. - Gender bias continues to hover over both male and female voters as they assess a woman's credentials for the presidency. Bias is so subtle that even feminists may not find it in themselves. Today, some women pride themselves in believing that we live in a post feminist society, where there is no longer a need to support women, just as some claim that we live in a post racist society. We may be seeing a new phase of liberation where people can proclaim that they do not have to loyal to either gender or race.

Wait a minute. Yes, progress in both racial and gender justice has been enormous. Once upon a time, when I served in the Vermont legislature, married women couldn't have their own names in the telephone book or obtain a mortgage in their own name. Times have changed, but one look at any group photo of the global leaders tells us who rules the world. If it were not for the suits and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's skirt, then they could pass for a men's soccer team.

The number of women in the United States Congress is at a record high at 19.4 percent. We still are obliged to include decimal points to boost the number. We cannot stop promoting (qualified) women in leadership until the number reaches 50 percent, not just because of gender, but because political leadership will look more like American voters. Studies have shown that corporations which have a significant number of women and people of color on their boards did better than all white male boards during the 2008 recession. Diversity in the workplace mirrors diversity in political leadership; it is guaranteed to produce different outcomes in some areas.

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