Would More Women In The Senate Mean Less Gridlock?

20 female lawmakers agreed there would have been no fiscal cliff drama had they been running the show, but they may be wrong

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Female senators sit down for an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer.

They’re definitely “not a sorority,” as Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) insisted. And yet the 20 women lawmakers who sat down for a group interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer that aired on January 3 did seem to form a chummy, sisterly club as they celebrated the milestone of one-fifth female representation in the U.S. Senate.

There was lots of “you-go-girl” nodding, as senator after senator extolled the virtues of female cooperation, collaboration, and can-do workmanship. (“Workwomanship?” It’s a word, perhaps, whose time has come.) They agreed that, had women been running the show, there would have been no “fiscal cliff” drama. “We don’t believe in the culture of delay,” said Barbara Mikulski, (D-MD.)

Sidestepping partisanship (by neatly avoiding mention of which party does or does not support women’s reproductive rights), they jointly expressed frustration with their male colleagues’ obsession with abortion.  “Can’t you just leave that alone?” asked an exasperated Patty Murray (D-WA, and pro-choice.)

(MORE: Viewpoint: “Pro-life” and “feminism” aren’t mutually exclusive)

The only smidgeon of a sign of barely possible disagreement came when the newly-elected Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) interrupted a comment from Susan Collins (R-ME) on how politicians should focus on the economy, health care, education and foreign policy and not reproductive issues to interject that in fact access to birth control was still very much an issue – a perhaps too self-assertive gesture that left the colleagues seated around her momentarily unsmiling.

But never mind.  Now is not the time to wonder if women reached a level of political participation commensurate to their representation in the voting population (which would give them a majority, not mere parity in government), and if their numbers were more or less evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, they wouldn’t find themselves in as much gridlock, with as much conflict and partisan grandstanding as their majority-male colleagues. (“More Women in Senate Likely to Result in Higher Taxes, Bigger Govt, Less Freedom,” was the headline of a statement from the conservative Independent Women’s Forum published in the Weekly Standard just hours before Sawyer’s interview.)

(MORE: The Next Cliff: Another Round of Debt Brinkmanship Looms)

Thoughts of this kind can wait a few more election cycles, when, one hopes, a female majority will become something other than a dream. In the short-term, as the women of the Senate would say, there’s no time for more namby-pamby dilly-dallying. Or as Senator Mikulski put it last night,  “Square your shoulders, put your lipstick on and fight the revolution.”


If I said that if the majority of Senators in congress were women, they'd be voting to paint the White House pink and would make facials and pedicures free to all women, I'd be called a sexist. But if you say that women would do a better job then when men had control of congress and there wouldn't be any gridlock, somehow that's not sexist>?


I would take a moderate over an extreme left or right person, be they male or female, any day.


I don't know how anyone that ever went to an American High school could buy into the myth that if women ran the world things would be great. 


Women would still vote along party lines, as their party leaders. Regularly going against your parties policies would reduce the chances of furthering your political career. 

Margaret Thatcher, Britain's only female Prime minister is famous for saying "This lady is not for turning.", implying she was not open to negotiation. 

YouDaManTiger like.author.displayName 1 Like

Give me a break. Women make up over half the population yet the vast majority of Senators, Representatives, Governors, CEOs, scientists, professors, painters, writers, chefs, architects, etc. are men. Figure out that equation and then maybe we'll let you tackle the fiscal cliff negotiations. This feminist shibboleth that women are superior is misandrist and ignorant.

DavidBell like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

If I, of course, voted based on the gender of the candidate, I would be a sexist.  Why is not questioned when an article like this appears that makes it seem that all women think and vote alike?  I can't imagine that Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Barbara Mikulski could agree on anything.  They have completely different political philosophies.  As a married man for 41+ years, and the father of an adult daughter, I can say from experience that women don't all think alike, nor should anyone assume that they would.  Where I come from, the assumption that a group of people will do or think something is called stereotyping.  We are all individuals and should be viewed as such.


Well we have reached women as a super-majority in other areas of society that we can use as a representation of what to expect. K12 education. From top to bottom it's a virtual womans only club. We have more teachers per student. More administrators per student. More money per student. More of everything per student as oppossed to fifty years ago. It's virtually all women top to bottom, and if we're totally honest, we couldn't compete with Rwanda.

So just adding women to the mix and saying once we get a majority of women doing "X" it'll all be utopia, rainbows and unicorns hasn't played out in reality. There are other examples as well that also aren't ringing endorsements of success. If, for instance, you could show some occupation or industry that was failing and adding women turned it around that would be proof that women in that particular field was beneficial. Saying something like Sheryl Sandburg is now a CEO of facebook means nothing since facebook was already hugely successful before her arrival. I could've been made a CEO of facebook and it would be just as successful as it is today. I also didn't even hit the return button in the creation of facebook.

mrbomb13 like.author.displayName 1 Like


A couple of comments on your thought-provoking post:

1) I agree with your sarcastic sentiment that adding more women to the mix won't create a utopia.

2) However, I disagree with your assertion that women dominate the Education profession top-to-bottom.  I was a teacher until the end of the 2011-2012 school year, and had taught/substituted in districts across NJ and PA.  Overall, I would agree that women certainly outnumber men in elementary education (Grades K-4) by at least 95%.  However, as you get closer to Jr. High School, the "outnumbering" drops to a 60-40 split (women to men).  In high school, it's practically dead-even, with men outnumbering women in some cases.  At the administrative level, it depends upon the culture of the area.  In PA, virtually every district principal/vice principal/dean of students was male (due to nepotism).  In NJ, it was more evenly split between the genders.  

My overall point is that Education is not necessarily dominated by women in every facet.

3) Your comment on "we have more teachers/administrators/money/etc. per student" needs additional clarification.  That completely depends upon the district, and how many teaching positions that district can afford to maintain.

4) I agree with your sentiment about how adding more women to executive-level positions in Business doesn't necessarily guarantee success.  It seems like too much emphasis is put on gender/diversity, and not enough on merit-based credentials/skills.  We therefore witness a game of identity politics being played, and end up with honest conversation being sacrificed in the name of political correctness.

mrbomb13 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like


Are you aware of the feminist-driven piece of drivel that Judith Warner has posted on your site???

Are you aware that she posts no studies, journal articles, statistics, surveys, or any shred of qualitative/quantitative data to support her central thesis (more women in Congress would lead to less gridlock)???

Could you IMAGINE the reaction if I wrote that, "an all-White Congress and White House would be the best solution ever?"

Yet, no one at Time has reprimanded Ms. Warner for her gender wars-driven piece of nonsense.  

Even 10 years ago, writing like this would never have been published or posted.  It's truly shameful to read what passes for "professional journalism" in the year 2013.

Time, you should know better.

VincentLovece like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

This sounds like a wish-fulfillment article. "If only we had more non-white males in power, everything would be better." This is a political statement, not journalism.

DBritt like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

This sounds like a quick-fix dream.. "if we only had more women in congress our gridlock problems would end."  Of course it's never that easy.  It seems that Warren was the only one not willing to sit and play pretend for the camera.  It figures.. she is a complete baller.

And I don't understand why the author considers that type of disagreement inappropriate in that context.  Are we meant to fake agreement and call it negotiation?  And what happens when we are "negotiating" over something we actually care about?  If anything is needed in Washington it is a constructive way to express disagreement, not disregard of disagreement entirely.  I think the rose-colored glasses took over a little on this article.

DavidBell like.author.displayName 1 Like

@DBritt - Did you notice that the only one who barged into someone else's response, and apparently got a cold shoulder, was Elizabeth Warren?   I bet if we had more phony Cherokees, everything would be perfect.


I am a male and am all for more women in gov and leadership roles, also in business. There may be some moderation and a `coming of women, but   this is still politics and most women who are aggressive enough to take on leadership and powerful roles, have more of their maleness working (ego) and many of the conservative females will revert to the same right-wing-nuttedness that keeps things inoperable. Hope I am wrong, but doubt it. Strong women have their intuition softened and the ego becomes much more dominate... Carl Jung.

mrbomb13 like.author.displayName 1 Like


I'm willing to bet that your "pro-women in business/politics" stance is motivated by personal feelings, and not by qualitative/quantitative studies/articles.

There is not a single study that says diversity (racial/gender/ethnic) guarantees an organization success.  

Your sentiment is what was used to push through affirmative action in the 1970s, which was and is reverse discrimination.

jacobcpershing like.author.displayName 1 Like

That would be great if the number of women in politics more accurately reflected the percentage of women citizens. But are enough women running for office?