Although the United States failed to elect its first female president on Tuesday, the amount of women involved in politics is still significant, particularly so in the local governments surrounding UC Santa Barbara.
In UCSB’s Associated Students, three of five principal executive positions (President, Internal Vice President, External Vice President Local Affairs, Statewide Affairs, Student Advocate General) are occupied by women, and of the 53 available positions in each of these offices, 36 are held by women.
Proportionally, women in A. S. Senate constitute 40 percent of the available seats, a figure higher than the state’s own members of the House of Representatives. Only 19 of the 53 representatives for the United States House of Representatives are women, totaling a 36 percent female representation in office.
According to the United States Census Bureau, of California’s population of 39 million, 51 percent are female, showing a significant disparity between the amount of women in California and the constituents which are meant to represent them.
Several women attempted to bridge this gap in representation on Wednesday as Kamala Harris, Joan Hartmann and Monique Limón were elected to the United States Senate, the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors and the California State Assembly, respectively.
The election has seen many mixed emotions, with a significant amount of the population believing that the country is ready to pick its first female president.
“I think we’re ready for a woman president,” Tiffany Story, one of many Santa Barbara residents who opted to view the election coverage at The Mill, a business center located downtown, said. Though a significant amount of the country voted to put a woman in the highest office in the land, others are more concerned about what the candidate’s policies were.
Eileen Boris, professor in the Department of Feminist Studies at UCSB, said feminist leaders are necessary, and while the gender of the president is significant, it is more important for there to be a feminist, in particular, in the Oval Office.
“I think it makes more of a difference [if] we have a feminist in the White House … It makes more of a difference not the embodiment of the person but the policies of a person,” Professor Boris said.
As for what particular policies a feminist would bring into office, Boris said, a feminist in office will bring a commitment to what is often called the ‘working family dilemma,’ that is, how do we organize the relationship between getting a living and daily life.”
In local politics, Joan Hartmann secured the Third District Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors seat on Tuesday, beating rival Bruce Porter 13,563 to 11,511.
When asked whether Hartmann’s election to the board of supervisors would make a difference in the community, Boris seemed to summarize many of the general election’s prevailing tensions.
It is the threat of Hartmann’s absence in the community that would influence the county the most. “I don’t think it makes much of a difference [if Hartmann is elected], but if she isn’t elected it WILL make a difference,” she said.
Professor Boris’ concern is significant, as a failure to place women in office can lead to misrepresentation and a lack of inclusion. However, while the Californian members of the House of Representatives fail to proportionally represent the amount of women in the state, the amount of women in A.S. executive positions is also significant.
Taking into consideration the executive positions and all of their offices’ members, of the 58 total positions in the executive branch of A. S. (including the Office of the Controller), 67 percent of all positions belong to female staff.
Of the 23,497 students attending UCSB (including both graduates and undergraduates), 12, 171 are women, 52 percent of the campus’ population, meaning that A.S. has substantial representation for its female students.
A version of this story appeared on p. 4 of the Thursday, Nov. 10, edition of the Daily Nexus.