Alyse Kaminski | Staff Columnist
When I was a kid, my parents used to tell me to not be discouraged because there weren’t as many women represented in politics or science as there were men. They told me that I can do anything as a girl and that being a girl is a superpower.
I never understood why there had never been a female president or vice president before. Why couldn’t a woman be a leader? I thought it was against the law.
Obviously, it wasn’t against the law. People just weren’t ready, which sounds silly. What’s there to not be ready for? I don’t think I will ever understand why it has taken so long to see female leadership in the White House. I really think it should’ve happened sooner, to be honest.
Needless to say, I am thrilled that America has elected its first female Vice President, Kamala Harris. Not only is she the first woman, she is the first Black and South Asian person to hold the office. She single handedly shattered so many glass ceilings.
When major news outlets began projecting Joe Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice-presidents, I was sleeping in. First of all, I spent all of last week glued to CNN and the one time I decided to not wake up early to watch coverage, they called the election.
I woke up to a call from my mom cheering that Biden and Harris had won. Not only did America make Donald Trump a one-term president, but my wish of seeing a woman in the White House finally came true.
Throughout the day I had a million thoughts running around in my mind. But what I mainly kept circling back to was thinking about the girls at Strong Women, Strong Girls (SWSG). SWSG is a mentoring organization that works with girls in third through fifth grade on a curriculum based on female empowerment and healthy habits. I am one of the two chapter directors for the Duquesne chapter, so the girls we work with hold a special place in my heart.
I kept thinking of all the mentoring sessions I had over the three semesters I worked with the girls at Arlington K-8. The girls are so smart and resilient. They consistently open up to us about their struggles at home, the prejudice they encounter and what they want out of life. They so dearly admire the women we teach them about each week in the biography portion of mentoring. They want to be just like them.
I cannot wait for our mentors to log on to Zoom and celebrate with the girls the election of Kamala Harris. I can already assume they will have a virtual dance party. I promise it means so much to them.
No matter who you voted for, I hope that you see the election of Harris as our next vice president as a huge win. You may not agree with her politics, but it’s hard to disagree that young girls need to see themselves represented in politics.
There is so much sexism that still lurks within our country, especially when it comes to girls going into fields that are still male-dominated, like politics. I’ve seen this firsthand.
My parents own a small business doing title abstracting. They spend the first half of their time looking at deed books in the Department of Real Estate at the County Office Building Downtown. They work alongside other title searchers who work for other companies. I work with my parents now, but when I was little, they brought me down there a lot. The people they work alongside have known me since I was about 4 years old. They’ve watched me grow up to the confident woman I am today.
When I was going off to college almost four years ago, a group of guys asked my dad what I was majoring in. He proudly said political science and that my dream is to run for office. They laughed at him, basically saying “That’s cute, but probably not.” They would not have done that if I were my dad’s son, I can assure you.
We still have a long way to go in this country in eliminating misogyny, but I am hopeful. The fact that our first female vice president is a woman of color speaks volumes about how far we have come. Representation matters. Just look at all of the photos of little girls watching Vice President Elect Harris speak on Saturday night. They hung on her every word.
Let’s keep electing women to office. Let’s keep making STEM fields a safe space for women. My personal hero, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said it best — “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”