While women outnumber men in the United States, the representation of women in government does not compare. According to Time, the increase in female representation is prevalent; the amount of women involved in government was approximately 23 percent in 2016.
Today, women make up 29.3 percent of the statewide elective executive offices across the country, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.
Even though the number of women representing has gone up, the numbers are still low.
These numbers are not going unnoticed for sophomore Pan-African studies major Chazzlyn Jackson.
Jackson got involved in the Kent State community very quickly as a freshman by being the former president of the Freshman Advisory Council. Leadership positions like that led to her involvement as the second chairman for Director of Programming and Director of Hospitality in Undergraduate Student Government.
Her road into USG came from a defeat running for Director of Student Involvement last year. This pushed Chazzlyn even more to be a representation for women of color.
“I went to a predominantly white high school and was a black female class president all four years,” Jackson said. “To carry on that momentum was very crucial for my community because I needed to inspire our community that you can do it, too. ‘Do you see me? Are you watching? I want you to do this as well.’ It’s not just me. Any person of color that is running for a position in politics or the social atmosphere, we are breaking down barriers for more to come. We want the momentum to keep going to pass the baton.”
Jackson felt she did not have to prove much when running for USG because of how confident she was on her platform.
“The only thing I had to prove was, yes I am a black female and yes I am running for a position on USG,” she said. “Anything else I didn’t have to prove because I was confident with my platform, I was confident [with] me as a person, I was confident [with] the position I was running for. As for my physical looks, the assumptions, the stigmas we carry as minorities, that was something I had to prove because USG is predominantly white and male.”
Even though Jackson did not win her election last academic year, she believes that this all happened for a reason.
“I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,” she said “There is a reason why I did not win and there is a reason why I am on the programming board. I love being on the programming board and it gave me time to think on other positions that I may also be interested in.”
Chazzlyn Jackson, Gwen Rosenberg and Judge Susan Baker Ross were all women who were featured at the Women Center’s Feminist Friday event, Women in Politics on Oct. 25.
The panel discussion focused on these three women who have different experiences working in the political field, their struggles and advice for future leaders.
Freshman political science major Natalia Cruz came to the discussion because she is interested in getting involved in politics in the future. However, her passion did not come from a female politician, it came from the movie Legally Blonde.
“It really all started when I was eight and I watched Legally Blonde 2 when she went to Washington D.C.,” Cruz said. “Ever since then, I found it fascinating. I am the type of person who loves helping people. I love community service and I love planning things. So, politics has always made sense to me because it is one of the most effective ways that you can make change.”
Cruz is also passionate about immigration policies because of her own personal ties to the issue.
“One thing that is important to me is immigration reform and refugees, as someone who is the daughter of an immigrant,” she said. “When you grow up with immigrant parents or friends who also have immigrant parents, you see things, you hear stuff about people’s parents getting deported. That has always been an issue close to my heart.”
Director of the Women’s Center Cassandra Pegg-Kirby believes the panel shows the capability of women being in politics.
“These are extraordinary women but so is everyone else here,” Pegg-Kirby said. “And so I think that is a part of the conversation, to bring people into this space to discuss women in politics is that it is not for somebody else. It is for any of us that want to do it.”
For Cruz, who came in between two class periods, this Feminist Friday event was worth it.
“Anytime you hear from empowered women it makes you more empowered,” she said.
Contact Katia Rodriguez at firstname.lastname@example.org.