Female Representation In The Canadian Government

1367 words - 5 pages

Since the success of the Women's Suffrage movement that occurred between 1880-1920, the "second wave" of the women's movement has become a central focus of analysis and debate. Although female representation has gradually improved over the past +50 years, an unbalanced proportionate of power for women involved within Canadian political structures continues to be a reality. "Women constitute over half of the Canadian electorate, yet they account for less than one-quarter of Canadian legislators, Cabinet ministers, senior government officials and judges." Moreover, the majority of female politicians, subject to a notable few, continue to be concentrated in particular areas of policy considered to be the logical extension of traditional feminine concerns health, welfare, education, culture, the family and consumer affairs." Although these areas of "soft politics" offer women the opportunity to influence public policy, they more often lead to dead ends for the possible ascendancy of female legislators into positions concerning economic and foreign affairs. By contrast male elites "specialize in more prestigious fields of finance, justice treasury, industry and trade." These stereotypically masculine fields allow male politicians to ascend in political power and influence. In doing so, they indirectly overwhelm the majority of female's attempts to break into and progress in a political institution that is predominately male. Despite these unique obstacles, female groups, both internally and externally, continue to advocate and reinforce efforts to put more women in senior positions. In addition, as the political landscape continues to change, parties are beginning to embrace the image of change and renewal associated with female political representation. Although these are positive improvements, the continued overall effect of the numerical under-representation on Canadian women is negative. Women are still viewed as a novelty, which is reflected in the media's superficial portrayal of female politicians, as well as in their treatment by their male colleagues in the House of Commons. The struggle continues, a struggle for equality and balanced representation in Canadian politics.

Female participation in Canadian parties contrasts male participation in that female occupation of powerful senior positions is quite a rare occurrence. Moreover, any position that is openly competed for by more than one individual is most likely a position a woman will not obtain. First identified by Bashevkin, these two consistent patterns mentioned above are identified as the all too commonly known cases: "the higher (the position) the fewer (women)" and "the more competitive (the position) the fewer (women)" Most often, the majority of women in Canadian politics will be concentrated in positions that offer the least access to power and lowest wages. An example of this is reflected in both the Provincial and Federal systems in Ontario. "The numbers and percentages...

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