Oregonian women fight for representation in politics


Courtesy of Pew Research Center

Over the past several decades, there has been a sharp increase in women in Congress. However, the US still has a long way to go to achieving and gender equality in politics.

Despite a record number of 153 women in the US Congress, the nation is far from achieving equal gender representation in politics. Both County Commissioner Sharon Meieran and retired lawyer Alison Brody think that despite advancements, there are still a lot of challenges that women have to face to make their voices heard, and the world of politics more diversified.  

As County Commissioner for Congressional District One in Oregon, Dr. Sharon Meieran is able to use her authority in the fields of public health and human services to advocate for more resources and equity for women.

“We have to fight for our place at the table, let alone to lead at the table,” Meieran said. “Women in politics have faced barriers, and this issue has always been central to who I am. I see that play out at the county commission where we really do champion and elevate women’s health, reproductive health and gender affirming health.”

A Harvard case study found that many face inherent gender bias, as a result of societal expectations rather than blatant misogyny. One such issue is visible in the way women adjust themselves to conform to a male-dominated environment, according to the American Psychological Association.

“For women, it is hard to establish the right tone. If you are confident and authoritative, that can read really well for a man. The exact same demeanor from a woman can rub people the wrong way, especially at trial [and in politics]. It’s harder for women,” Brody said.

Despite the historical and enduring legacy of gender inequality in politics, there are many signs that this field is shifting towards a more balanced gender representation. The American Bar Association found that over half of current law students identify as a woman, and in Oregon, women hold the offices of Governor, Secretary of State, and many other positions. 

Dr. Meieran stresses the importance of women in politics. 

“My favorite quote that I try to abide by is, ‘speak your mind even if your voice shakes.’ Our voices are so important and we all have something to say and we need to bring our experiences to bear,” she said.