Raili Burton

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — In recent years, a number of female politicians have moved into the forefront of the male-dominated field of politics.

Discussions about women and their role in politics are becoming more prominent and difficult to ignore, especially on college campuses.

From Elizabeth Cady Stanton running for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1866 to having six women formally announce their candidacy for president in 2019, the role of women has continued to evolve in political affairs.

Earlier this year, the conversation about the expanding role of women in politics was featured during a presentation at Winthrop University.

Dr. Kira Sanbonmatsu, a political science professor at Rutgers University and a member of the Center for American Women and Politics, spoke at Winthrop March 10 about women, politics and the 2020 election.

“Our mission as a Center for American Women in Politics is to provide information and resources, data, research to the public, and that includes students,” said Sanbonmatsu.

“We welcome the opportunity to share what we do with students who are engaged and learning and if you don’t know about us yet and are curious about the topic of women in politics.”

Her research is focused on gender, race and ethnicity, political parties, public opinions and state politics.

Sanbonmatsu has written and co-authored multiple books, and her most recent book is titled “A Seat at the Table: Congresswomen’s perspectives on why their presence matters.”

Erica Nestore, a Winthrop student who attended the event, said she really enjoyed how much she learned about women running for office, female representation in government and women voters.

“I think it was kind of surprising how many women are underrepresented in Congress in general. It was really surprising to see that Democrat women are definitely more popular,” said Nestore.

However, for some, the gender of the politician is less important than their beliefs.

Emma Shanks, a senior at the University of South Carolina, said she doesn’t always side with a female politician simply because she is a woman.

“Personally, when I am deciding who to vote for in an election, I focus on the beliefs and policies of the nominee rather than the person’s gender. I don’t see how that should put a big difference on who you vote for,” said Shanks.

“I think that everyone should just be treated equal in elections and the gender shouldn’t matter for anybody.”

The Center for American Women and Politics continues to provide updates on its
website about women in American politics and government.

South Carolina is one of many states that has modified its election schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 15, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster postponed all county and municipal elections, which were originally scheduled for March and April, to sometime after May 1.

To keep up to date on how elections in South Carolina are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, visit scvotes.org.