Presentation discusses impact of female voters

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When it comes to women’s issues in the 2012 election, Nadia Brown, an assistant professor in Saint Louis University’s Department of Political Science and Department of African American Studies, and Heather Bednarek, the department chair and associate professor of the Department of Economics, know just how much is at stake.

Along with Linda McDaniel, co-president of League of Women Voters of St. Louis, Brown and Bednarek created a panel discussion and presentation for the Gruenberg Society, a society of female alumnae of the John Cook School of Business. The discussion detailed the role women have in the election and how the female vote can have the largest voice in determining the outcome of the presidential race.

The presentation, “How to Be a Smart Voter: Educate Yourself on Issues Affecting Women and Families in 2012,” was given last Tuesday, Oct. 16 in the John Cook School of Business and outlined the feminist issues of society that have been recognized or neglected during this campaign. The event was co-sponsored by Fifth Third Bank and the Young Women’s Christian Association.

Brown was the first panelist to present on the statistical information that plays into the election. She reported on the heavy significance of women voters in this election, based off statistical information from previous elections. In 2008, nine million more women voted than men. As feminist issues are debate topics ,there is no expectation of the difference in men and women voters to decrease.

“This election will impact [women] in significant ways,” Brown said.

According to Brown, this can be attributed to the clash of ideologies on gender equality matter, bodily integrity questions and reproductive disagreements between the two political parties. Brown’s research discovered that only 17 percent of seats in Congress are held by females. With the number of women voters outweighing that of men, this percentage and the discussion regarding women’s issues between the two male presidential candidates tends to cause negative friction.

“During the second debate, we saw issues discussed 20 or 25 years ago. These issues are coming to the forefront because politicians are realizing that women are more likely than men to vote,” Brown said. “Now, women are more civically and politically engaged but it’s always a surprise that women are under-represented.”

Bednarek’s 10-minute portion of the presentation took a microscopic look into the federal spending of the Office of Management and Budget. Bednarek focused largely on healthcare and why the discussion of the issue is so important.

“My goal was to present information that would help to provide a bigger frame when evaluating the specifics of various proposals — such as programs that would be cut or reformed to help balance the budget,” Bednarek said.

Bednarek said with healthcare being the “pac-man of the government spending pie,” and a budget that is continuously growing at the expense of other government funding projects, women need to understand how cuts or additions to healthcare would have an impact on their future.

McDaniel’s approach was less academic and more driven by her passion to educate and inform women voters about the potential the female voice carries this election. McDaniel’s portion of the presentation gave information about what identification is accepted for voting and what state-wide ballot issues are prevalent for Missouri. She also provided an entire list of websites that can educate voters on the validity of issues presented in the campaign. McDaniel stressed the mission of the organization: to protect the rights of the citizens to register and vote.