If Ms Clinton wins this election, it may well be due to her popularity with women and minorities. Given that she is the first female presidential candidate, it only seems fitting. Looking back at history it has taken extended political campaigns by women and their supporters to gain the right to vote. Hilary Clinton has worked the last 30 years in public service to qualify for this job.
Women, no matter their political beliefs, have greatly benefitted from the work of Ms Clinton and the women who came before her. The women’s suffrage (right to vote) movement grew out of the anti-slavery movement. Many of the early pioneers were first active in abolitionism and believed that not only should slaves be equal but also women. The 19th amendment giving women the right to vote was passed by 82% of Republicans and 54% of Democrats (ironic?!) . The year was 1919. It has taken this country 97 years to put a female on the top of the ticket.
Ms Clinton, as many of the early female pioneers in any male dominated profession, has been held to a higher standard than men. Starting in the early 1990’s, she was harassed for not fitting the mold of a politicians wife. She wanted her own career. Even though I was born a decade after her, I faced some of the same criticisms. Male physicians who informed me I should only work part-time if I wanted to be a good mother. Relatives who believed a woman should not out-earn her husband.
Career women today are celebrated by the husbands and fathers in their life. Think about the different perceptions of Hilary Clinton and Ivanka Trump. Two very smart, talented women who are driven in their career goals. Because of the hard work of Clinton and her cohorts, their willingness to take criticism and continue to strive for the top, having to work twice as hard as men and get half the credit, Ivanka is able to be perceived as a savvy businesswoman with a family. No one is asking Ivanka to stay home and bake cookies.
Take a moment tomorrow to think how far we have come to finally have the choice to vote for a woman. And then realize how much more work we have to do to move this country forward – so that rape is not a problem on college campuses, that women’s bodies are not up for ridicule, that equal work means equal pay. We have the obligation to take the torch from those before us and continue to light the way for our sons and daughters.
The color of suffrage is white. I dislike wearing my white lab coat at work (menopausal hot flashes!) but will be doing so this week in honor of Hillary Clinton and others who have made my career as a female physician possible. I challenge all female physicians to do the same in solidarity to those women who came before us and made our careers possible.