"Exhibiting You" - Story

When Women Enter Elections

By: Luz Lajous Vargas
Submitted: 09/19/2008

But those that do envision their role in electoral politics, and even their presence in the bureaucracy, do so as an extension of their motherhood role in the family and to their larger family of the town or the nation. This stance steers many to the arenas of health, education, welfare, care of children and the elderly, the arts, culture.From Grassroots to Political PostsFor example in Mexico, women are better represented in the legislative and judicial branches than their counterparts in the United States. Women tend to pursue careers within their parties, more so than men. They tend to become politically involved through unions and grassroots organizations.

In their initial forays into professional careers, women are often directed into less influential posts. Women have done better in those agencies or branches where some semblance of meritorious promotion criteria takes precedence over other more informal criteria, which is the essence of most political appointments in Mexico. In retrospect, women have engineered their career choices in such a way as to become generalists rather than specialists.
Moving Women Up the Political LadderRecruitment variables such as education and family background greatly affect the selection of women for political positions. Other than place, level, and type of education, a women’s family background can also function as a critical recruitment tool. Kinship in Mexico, as the case elsewhere in Latin America, is a crucial variable in the determination of political linkage and success in public life.

If women were to emulate men as a means of strengthening their abilities to obtain influential offices, they might increase their presence among present leadership but do so at a certain price.
Do Women Politicians Have Different Values?It is unknown to what degree--if at all--women’s values differ from their male peers on social, economic, and political matters. If one assumes such values would differ, then the short term achievement of greater numbers might sacrifice a level of diversity that female politicians with a different set of experience might bring to the same leadership.

As I see it, women entering politics have two options: replicating the weaknesses already apparent among male leadership or expanding and strengthening their present qualities.

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