I’m very aware of the fact that most of the positions of power in the United States government are held by men and have been held by men since this country was started back in 1776. For crying out loud, the US didn’t have a woman elected into the Senate until 1932.
Today, in 2017 there are 100 members of the Senate and only 20 of them are women. And over in the second branch of Congress, a place created in order for the states to have equal representation based on population, women only make up about 19%. The statement, “equal representation based on population” is interesting because if that statement carried over in terms of population of women, they would make up half of the positions of power. The United States has around 300 million people living in it and as of the 2010 census, females made up 50.8%. Now, I know gender doesn’t boil down to male and female, but my point is there is a serious lack of half the country’s perspective happening in the United States Government, especially when it comes to decision making.
Let’s take a look at the court system. Traditionally, 8 judges have served on the Supreme Court, and that’s still the case today and out of the 8 appointed Supreme Court Judges, 3 of them are women. Now, as important as the Supreme Court is, they only review about 100-150 cases every year. The other 7,000 cases that are appealed to the federal government every year make their way to the US Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals is broken up into 13 circuits, or 13 areas regions of the country. There are 3 judges appointed to each region and no jury. The Court of Appeals is important because it deals with applications for decisions to be reversed. There are currently 167 active members of the United States Court of Appeals, 60 of them are women and only 12 are women of color.
The lack of representation in the court system is concerning because a man can claim to want to protect women and that he is on their side, but he doesn’t actually know what it’s like to be a women. He has no personal experience about how the US governmental system and certain laws affect a woman because he has never lived in the nation as a woman.
According to the National Women’s Law Center, “when women are fairly represented in federal courts, those courts are more reflective of a diverse population.” Equal representation of women, especially in positions of power is important and improves justice by bringing in an understanding of the impact of laws on the lives of women and girls in the United States.