In 2008, Hillary Clinton ran for president and Sarah Palin for vice president, setting a powerful precedent for women’s role in U.S. elections. Four years later, record-setting numbers of women are running for seats in the U.S. House and Senate. But amidst an alleged Republican “war on women” and prominent debates on contraception, reproductive health services and equal pay for women, the role of women in this election seems more nebulous than 2008. What issues will matter to women this fall? How should politicians address the changing demographic? How will female voters and candidates impact the 2012 election?
A New America NYC event tonight will convene a panel of female journalists and activists to consider the role women will play – and are playing - in this race. If you’re in New York, be sure to check out the conversation with Michelle Goldberg of The Daily Beast, New YorkTimes Magazine’s Rebecca Traister, Jen Bluestein of EMILY’s List and Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown student who testified in February about her university’s lack of contraceptive coverage and was labeled a “slut” on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. (If you can’t make it, we’ll post the podcast later this week).
Come November, if voters elect fifteen more women into the Senate, the influx could dramatically change the conversation about healthcare access – good news for Sandra Fluke.
These women could also be instrumental in leveling the playing field –- policy-wise -- for women who are attempting the herculean task of working and taking care of a family. In this month’s Atlantic magazine cover story, Anne Marie Slaughter, a New America Foundation board member and Princeton professor, argues that the political and societal changes women so desperately need inorder to “have it all,” today – or sustain a competitive, vibrant career and a happy family – will likely come from the top. “We may need to put a woman in the White House before we are able to change the conditions of the women working at Walmart,” she writes.
On this week’s episode of the Sidebar New America’s weekly news podcast, Schwartz Fellows Liza Mundy and Noam Scheiber discuss Slaughter’s article, and what policies they think would most help women strike a balance between work and family.
Listen to the episode here, and find out more about tonight’s event.
Photo credit: Adam Hunger/REUTERS