Women’s voices are missing in Kansas political circles

By

Opinion

November 19, 2018 - 11:01 AM

The 2018 election was “Year of the Woman, Part Deux.” Women, particularly Democrats, made gains nationwide. Kansas factored into that, electing Laura Kelly as governor, Vicki Schmidt as insurance commissioner, and Sharice Davids to Congress. Despite these gains, women still have not achieved equal political representation.

Kelly’s win was not destiny. A year ago, Kansas had the only gubernatorial race in America with no woman running. Meanwhile, roughly 20 men were possible candidates, including several teenagers. There was an opening for a woman, especially on the Democratic side, and Kelly stepped into that void, albeit late and perhaps reluctantly. Though she ultimately prevailed, her gender was sometimes an issue, though a subtle one.

Female candidates are often told — usually by men — that they are unqualified. In Kansas, a Greg Orman surrogate ridiculed Kelly’s professional background as a recreational therapist for children with mental illness, insinuating that she lacked “a real job” and was thus unqualified to lead government, despite her 14 years in the legislature. Some activists on social media even said that Kelly’s only qualification was her gender.

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