Currently, only nine out of 50 seats in the governor office are held by women in the United States.
There is a chance to fix this as the 2022 gubernatorial election approaches
On election date, 36 states will have the opportunity to elect a new governor. According to Politico.com, there is hope for both parties to fill seats with women.
Six of these female governors are Democratic, three are Republican. Additionally, four of these women assumed the role by succession, for example, the newest Governor of New York.
In late August, Kathy Hochul was sworn in to replace former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo after he faced allegations of sexual assault. Hochul is the first female governor in New York’s history.
Today, only 31 states have elected a female governor, leaving 19 states who have never had a woman in their governor’s office. Ann Richards was governor of Texas from 1991-1995. She was preceded by Miriam “Ma” Ferguson who ran for governor in 1924 after her husband, Jim, was impeached for misapplication of public funds.
Bias against women holding governing positions is still prevalent in today’s age and is a primary reason for the lack of women in leadership roles.
“The biggest one is the perception that the leadership qualities that one needs to be a governor (or a President) are not ones that women possess,” said Debbie Walsh, CAWP’s director, to CNN.
Because of this prejudice, women must work harder to campaign in each gubernatorial election.
“Women who decide to run have to work very hard at convincing people that they are tough enough to deal with the complexities of the job and balance that out with not appearing to be too aggressive, because that tends to turn people off too,” said Laura Kelly (Dem. KA) in an interview.
This belief is leading to more funding from both Democrats and Republicans to boost their women candidates.
For example, the Democratic Governors Association created a fund, managed by Gov. Kate Brown, (Dem. OR) and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (Dem. NM), to help these female gubernatorial candidates. The fund has a fundraising goal of $5 million dollars.
According to Politico.com, the “fund has limits. It can only be used to support women who make it out of their primaries, and $5 million doesn’t go very far in the campaign finance world, especially as it gets more expensive to run with every cycle.”
Meanwhile, the Republican State Leadership Committee is working on recruiting qualified women candidates in caucuses and teams.
Additionally, the RSLC have partnered with different groups, such as the Women’s Public Leadership Network to schedule workshops on how to combat challenges women face when running for government positions, and about half of the women supported by this group have been successful.
As of right now in the 2022 gubernatorial election, 30 states are proposing to elect women, with six women running for reelection: Kay Ivey (Rep. AL); Kim Reynolds (Rep. IO); Laura Kelly (Dem. KA); Janet Mills (Dem. ME); Gretchen Whitmer (Dem. MI); Kathy Hochul (Dem. NY) and Kristi Nome (Rep. SD). This means that Republicans will lose two current seats while Democrats will lose one current seat.
For the women governors in office today, many have detailed their difficult experiences and judgements they have faced.
In a past quote, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (Dem. MI) said, “One of the weirdest questions I’ve gotten on the campaign trail is, ‘Are you going to run as a woman?’ I’m like, ‘Do I have an option?’ Like, what does this mean?”
Despite the challenging odds women face when running for political office, 33 women are campaigning in the 2022 gubernatorial election.
There is still time for candidates to decide to run for governor in every state.
The 2022 Gubernatorial Elections will be held November 8th, 2022.