Today marks Women’s Equality Day, the day the ratification of the 19th amendment was certified. That amendment granted suffrage to women, marking the first time that women could vote in federal elections. Since then, women have emerged as the most reliable voters in American politics, turning out at higher rates than their male counterparts in every election since 1980. The 1980 election also featured a shift in gender preferences at the presidential level that has persisted until today; women have consistently been more likely than men to vote for Democratic nominees, while men have been more likely than women to favor Republican candidates for president. By these measures, the right women won 96 years ago has had a huge impact on American politics, especially in the past four decades.
As we watched the achievements of U.S. Olympians this month, we were dazzled by several milestone achievements of women athletes, including many minority women athletes. Several Black women athletes won gold, most notably gymnasts Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas, swimmer Simone Manuel and shot putter Michelle Carter. Manuel was the first Black woman to win individual gold in swimming and Michelle Carter was the first U.S. woman to win gold for shot put. Women’s track and field have excelled with Allyson Felix becoming the most decorated female Olympian and the first ever U.S. sweep of the podium for 100-meter hurdles with Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali, and Kristi Castlin. Ibtihaj Muhammad also caught our attention for fencing while wearing a hijab, and will return to the U.S. with a bronze medal in hand. Some prominent Latinas won gold as well, including gymnast Laurie Hernandez, swimmer Maya DiRado, and weightlifter Sarah Robles. Laurie Hernandez served as the first Latina U.S. Olympic gymnast in a decade, and won an individual silver medal in addition to the team gold. There are also several Asian American notable athletes including swimmer Lia Neal, Taekwondo competitor Paige McPherson, and fencer Lee Kiefer. The many other gifted women athletes that dazzled us include the women’s rowing, gymnastics, and basketball teams. Overall, this year’s U.S. Olympic delegation included more women than men (292-263), the most women sent by any country, and – importantly – great diversity among them.
By multiple measures, America’s women athletes are winning the Rio Olympics. For the second consecutive summer games, women are more than half of all athletes on Team USA. After the first 10 days of competition, they won 62% of the gold medals earned by the U.S. team; U.S. women won 12 individual and 4 team gold medals through Monday out of 26 total gold medals awarded thus far. U.S. women athletes also earned about half of the remaining medals that have kept the USA at the top of the medal count in Rio. Included among these wins have been myriad “firsts,” like the first African American woman to medal in Olympic swimming (Simone Manuel) and the first American Muslim woman to compete and medal wearing a hijab in competition (Ibtihaj Muhammad). Women have not only broken barriers, but shattered records; Katie Ledecky swept golds in individual events while breaking a world record; Simone Biles has already won more gold medals than any woman in U.S. Olympic history; Kim Rhode captured a medal in her sixth consecutive Olympics; and cyclist Kristen Armstrong became the first U.S. woman to win a gold in the same event in three consecutive Olympics. These women will be joined by others over the next week, further cementing the Rio Olympics as a success for U.S. women athletes.
Recently, Donald Trump reviewed his poll numbers with a North Carolina audience, noting, “I don’t know what’s going on with the women.” For some Republican women, the situation is much clearer. They have engaged in explicitly public efforts to oppose their own party’s nominee, creating one of the more interesting narratives of the 2016 presidential election. These women, many of whom identify as committed Republicans, have undertaken different strategies to criticize or derail Trump’s bid for President. Some women have declared their opposition to Trump well before he was their party’s nominee or, now that he is the nominee, their intention to not vote in the presidential contest and instead focus on supporting Republicans in competitive down-ballot contests. For other Republican women, the opposition to Trump is not enough. They have publicly declared their willingness to vote, if not raise money and campaign, for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton through the group Republican Women for Hillary. I will profile those Republican women who have specifically declared an intention to vote for Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in a future post, but focus here on the efforts of Republican women to oppose Trump but remain faithful to other GOP candidates.
This week, the New York Post dedicated not one, but two, covers to nude photos of Melania Trump. On Sunday, the Post printed an issue with the front page headline “The Ogle Office” and an image of a nude Melania from a 1995 photo shoot for a French men’s magazine. The sub-headline read, “You’ve never seen a potential first lady like this!” On Monday, the Post continued its exploitative coverage by putting another 1995 photo of Melania nude with another woman on its cover, accompanied by the headline, “Menage a Trump.”
Now that the Democratic National Convention has closed, we looked back to identify gender differences in total speakers and speaking time. In this post, we also compare the gender parity in convention voices between the DNC and RNC, finding that women were seen and heard more at the Democrat’s convening.