Despite what you may have heard about the “Year of the Woman” or Mama Grizzlies, 2010 is shaping up to be a bad year for women members of Congress. For the first time since 1978 -- according to the Los Angeles Times -- the number of women serving in Congress is poised to drop.
As writer Lisa Mascaro calculates:
If large numbers of Democratic incumbents lose in November, as expected, many women could be replaced by men. Female candidates tend to do better in Democratic years, and 2010 is shaping up as a successful year for Republicans.
Currently, women hold 90 seats in Congress, 69 belonging to Democrats and 21 to Republicans. However, it is predicted that as many as 10 of those women could be replaced by men in November. Among the notable candidates in danger are Betsy Markey of Colorado, Patty Murray of Washington, and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.
Studies have shown that women legislate differently than men, often acting more collaboratively, seeking long-term results, and tending to take fewer risks. Further, as noted by the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission and the UN Department for Disarmament Affairs, women play a crucial role in promoting global disarmament, as gender perspective affects the way society views weapons, war, and militarism.
With the change in tide allowing many more conservative Republicans to pick up seats in the House and Senate, it seems November’s midterm elections may be a regressive event on two crucial fronts. Given our nation’s current economic crisis, involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and declining environment, there is no question that Congress would benefit from having more women in its chambers. Unfortunately, if the November forecast is any indication, a political season hailed for women’s advancement may turn out to be just the opposite.