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Midterm takeaway: Women voters are more diverse than given credit for


There was a lot of talk about a blue wave ahead of the midterm elections. While America might not have been entirely swept by that wave, it did experience another trend.

The Associated Press reports that a record number of female candidates were elected to the House Tuesday. Among the notable winners were Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who became the youngest woman to be elected to Congress.

As of Wednesday, voters were on track to send at least 100 women to the House, surpassing the previous record of 84. According to data compiled by The Associated Press, 237 women ran for the House as major-party candidates this year. That number is expected to grow…

Professor Brooke Coleman is a law professor at Seattle University. She tells KIRO Radio that there is a strong message coming from the midterms.

“I think what we are seeing is that women are not some monolithic group that are just one thing,” Coleman said. “They are complex just like the men who have been holding these positions for so many years.”

“I think what we are seeing is that women of all types are being very successful,” she said. “…We’ve seen women of color in the State of Massachusetts, for the first time we have a black woman going to Congress; you have two women who are Latina going to Congress from Texas for the first time ever,” she said. “I think it’s a win in that it shows that women are many different things and we can be just as diverse in our interests and ideologies as men can.”

Women have never held more than 20 percent of the seats in the House. But issues important to female voters have recently taken the spotlight. The Women’s March, for example, organized a response to President Donald Trump’s election. With the rush of new lawmakers headed to Congress, that movement seems to be gaining momentum.

But Professor Coleman argues that it would be a mistake for America to begin placing all women into political stereotypes, favoring one ideology over others. What’s important to understand is that all lawmakers represent a range of politics.

“I think the more women we have in these positions of power, the less unique and interesting it becomes,” Coleman said. “…I think people presume that because of my position that I am a Democrat and I have an interest in Democratic candidates running. But we have an increase in Republican candidates who are women running for Congress as well. I think that is a great thing. I think the more we have people who might look the same on the surface, but have different perspectives and different opinions, the more it will demystify the fact we can be defined by our gender.”

Another misstep would be to assume that women voters and lawmakers generally only care about historically stereotypical issues, such as children, families, etc. Rather, these are issues that all voters care about and should be treated as such.

“Those are issues I think we can all come together and agree upon,” Coleman said. “Ascribing them to women can sometimes get annoying. I know that sometimes I feel that way when I’m asked things as a mother, instead of as a person who happens to have children. But I also think that women have different perspectives on some of these issues. For example, a person of a different sexual orientation might have a different perspective on an issue. So the more diversity we have in our leadership groups, the better off we’ll be.”

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