October 30, 2008

Female Political Role Models Inspire, But Girls Lukewarm on Running for Office

CONCORD, Mass., Oct. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "I think those girls are pretty smart." So said Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire on October 28, 2008, when asked about the results of a poll of high school girls showing over 80 percent thought women candidates were treated worse than men by the media.

However, according to this student political opinion poll conducted by the National Coalition of Girls' Schools (NCGS) of 1,600 girls from across the country in grades 6 - 12, neither race nor gender were compelling issues. In fact, over 80 percent responded that race and gender had little to moderate effect on their interest in the upcoming election. This is no surprise to Simmons School of Management Professor, Mary Shapiro: "This is a generation which has grown up with multi-culturalism, not just as a media created concept, but as a reality. Seeing a woman run for political office may be seen as 'normal' given the number of strong role models these girls have."

Although this is a new generation with strong role models, almost 60 percent responded that they were very unlikely to run for political office. Perhaps the 82 percent who responded that men were treated more favorably by the media were affected. Christine Todd Whitman, former first woman Governor of New Jersey and NCGS school alumna, said, "It just reflects the fact that they are bright and paying attention. There has clearly been a gender bias in this election and, as the stakes are high and the coverage so visible, girls can't avoid seeing the differences."

Or perhaps, the 89 percent who say they are hopeful about the future of our country don't see politics as a way to effect positive and lasting change.

More girls must aspire to political office for women to begin to approach parity with men. This year, there are 86 women sitting in Congress's 535 seats. Breaking it down further: that's 16 women out of the 100 senators and 70 out of 435 U.S representatives. And statewide office? Nine of our 50 governors are women, not even one out of ten. Gender parity is a long way off.

"Girls' schools and women's colleges have a strong tradition of sending forward their graduates into public service. Their ranks comprise women who have benefited from singular leadership opportunities, who possess agile minds and the courage to speak their conscience," says Meg Milne Moulton, Executive director of the National Coalition for Girls' Schools, "supporting their belief that being successful in politics goes well beyond gender."

About NCGS

The National Coalition of Girls' Schools is the leading expert on single-sex education for girls, representing 55,000 girls in 130 girls' schools across the United States - private and public, day and boarding. NCGS champions girls' schools and offers educational resources for parents and educators of girls. International affiliate member organizations in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom contribute to a worldwide perspective on girls, their potential and possibilities. http://www.ncgs.org/

The National Coalition of Girls' Schools

CONTACT: Sally Reed, Director of Communications of the NationalCoalition of Girls' Schools, +1-978-877-1088, [email protected]

Web Site: http://www.ncgs.org/