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COLUMN: Increasing the number of women in government is the next step for gender equality

The United States ranks 49 out of 144 countries in regards to eliminating the gender gap, according to the World Economic Forum.

We rank fairly high in terms of economic participation, education, and health for women, but our main downfall is the fact that we rank 96 in terms of political figures. 

This was a 2017 report, and we have made progress during our 2018 midterm elections. 

Previously, the highest number of women serving in the House of Representatives was 85, making up only 19.5 percent of the House, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.  Similarly, women make up 23 percent of the Senate.

After the midterms, 103 women are now in the house, according to NBC News, which means that 23.4 percent of the house is women. 

The first two Native American women were elected into Congress during this midterm election. Sharice Davids will represent Kansas, and Deb Haaland will represent New Mexico. These two will be a voice for women and a minority in the U.S. 

Senator of Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin was reelected during this midterm. She uses her voice to fight for access to maternity care in rural regions. She gives a voice to an issue that men don't always think about. 

It is an problem that women in the United States do not have as strong of a voice as men do. 

Why should issues that directly affect women, such as access to birth control, be decided by men? 

By no means do women need to control the government or have more seats in Congress than men, but we should have equal representation. 

Throughout my life, I have heard countless times from friends that their parents say they would vote for a man over a woman if they did not know the two candidates. Something is wrong with this image. 

Having women in government is beneficial for countries as a whole. 

First off, women in government serve as role models for young girls, which helps these young girls remain invested in their education and have higher goals for their future careers.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, women tend to use their income more to give back to their families and community more than men do. They invest more into the community, which in turn helps raise GDP. 

Economy is always on the forefront of people’s minds, so it’s important to recognize that more women in politics and the work force boosts our economy. 

An article in the American Journal of Political Science found that citizens are more likely to trust a decision from the government in which women had input. 

The trust between the people and government tends to run thin in the United States right now. Electing more women into government and allowing them to have a say could help regain this trust. 

Science Daily shares that there are lower rates of corruption in countries with more women in government largely because women tend to focus more on policies related to family, children and women. 

Some people think that women are just not fit for government positions because they can’t handle the stress. 

An article from Forbes shares that when women are under pressure to make decisions, their stress actually helps them in decision making. Women are more likely than men to analyze heavy data. 

When faced with the stress, women make decisions that guarantee a win based on research. On the other hand, when men are under stress they tend to take larger gambles than they normally would when under stress. 

Similarly, women also tend to have higher social sensitivity, meaning they read non-verbal cues better than men. This is helpful during debates and discussion and can increase the productivity of a group. 

Women can face these stressful situations, and they should have the opportunity to handle the stress that accompanies government positions. 

I hope the United States continues to make strides in gender equality by electing more women into government positions. 

This midterm election was a step, a big step, and it should be celebrated.

However, to clap our hands and say that we now have a sufficient amount of women as political leaders would be ignorance. 

We still have much further to go.