After a long, ferocious campaign battle, Hillary Clinton didn’t shatter the highest and hardest glass ceiling Tuesday night—but one fact will always remain––Clinton made history as the first woman to win a presidential nomination by a major political party. But how might her loss affect other women’s political aspirations?
“I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will and hopefully sooner than we might think right now,” Clinton said in her concession speech. “And to all the little girls who are watching this—never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
Clinton’s direct message to young girls was crystal clear. But will it resonate? Ann Bookman, Director of the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMass Boston, said she thinks Clinton’s nomination and defeat will have a galvanizing effect on women and how they position themselves on the political stage.
“I think we will be see a real redoubling of efforts—an increased seriousness that we are in a long-term fight,” said Bookman. That we have achieved things with Secretary Clinton’s candidacy that women haven’t achieved before, but it’s clearly not enough.”
There were some positive signs, however. Three women were elected to the senate. And here in Massachusetts, we already have women in high positions of elected office—but Bookman said there’s more work to be done.
“I think we all need to think more deeply than we have. I think sometimes we have thought oh, we have the first gay woman attorney general,” she said. “We can’t rest on our laurels for a minute.”
She said some voters felt uncomfortable with having a woman Commander-in-Chief.
“I think there is very deeply entrenched misogyny – one always takes a deep breath when one uses that kind of word,” Bookman said. “But there is a real prejudice against women holding office at the highest level. And I think we saw that all during the campaign.”
Sexism certainly wasn’t the only reason Hillary Clinton lost. One of the glaring takeaways from Tuesday night is that many Americans feel that they’ve been left behind as the nation recovered from the Great Recession.
“We say we’re a democracy so we want everyone to participate. We say we want everyone to be able to have a middle class lifestyle and save for retirement and college—and go to college,” Bookman said. “And what do we have? We have this incredible level of debt.”
While neither party may have the answer, she believes any step toward unity begins with involving as many voices as possible—both on and off the political stage.
“Advance more women, more of other groups of people who are not represented in our government and give them a voice.”