Taking a Look at Women’s Parity

September 26, 2021


Women are 51 percent of the population, yet we are still less than one-quarter of our country’s leaders.  Ms. Magazine has done a compilation of fascinating articles (see the section here) that details the quest to increase the number of women in leadership positions in the U.S.  Head here to read about Kathy Hochul, the new governor of New York who is the first woman to hold that position.  As one of her first actions, Gov. Hochul appointed two women to top leadership positions in her cabinet.  And here is a story on the new woman head of the AFL-CIO.   More good news was President Joe Biden’s pledge, on Women’s Equality Day last month, to continue the work to protect and advance voting rights.

But there is not-so-good news, too.  The Gender Parity Index of the nonpartisan organization RepresentWomen was the topic of this piece in The Fulcrum, pointing out that just under one-quarter of all major elected officials in the country today are women – an increase of less than 1 percent from 2020.  You can peruse the 2021 Gender Parity Index itself here, where you’ll see that the majority of states, including South Carolina, got a “D” grade on the index in 2021. (The index reflects women’s recent electoral successes at the local, state, and national levels on a scale of 0 (if no women were elected to any offices) to 100 (if women held all elected offices.) 

In 2021, South Carolina’s score on the Gender Parity Index was 20.3, somewhat better than in 2020, when it was 17.8.  This underscores the importance of voting in ALL elections. This fall, local elections will be held throughout the state for town and city councils, school board, mayor, and others.  These local elections have an enormous impact on our day-to-day lives, yet voter turnout in non-Presidential election years usually is dismally low.  Often, municipal races are decided by just a handful of votes. One of those deciding votes could be yours.

Jan Collins 2021-circle-crop

Jan Collins is a Columbia, South Carolina-based journalist, editor, and author. A former Nieman Fellow at Harvard and former Congressional Fellow in Washington, D. C., she is the coauthor of Next Steps: A Practical Guide to Planning for the Best Half of Your Life (Quill Driver Books, 2009).