Re:Gender works to end gender inequity and discrimination against girls and women by exposing root causes and advancing research-informed action. Working with multiple sectors and disciplines, we are shaping a world that demands fairness across difference.
Imagine what it is like to be serving your country and less than a quarter of your constituents look like you. That is the reality for African-American women in politics.
Illinois Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Chicago) was the youngest African-American woman to be appointed to the Illinois Senate and she said sexism was evident, but being intimidated by others has disappeared.
“There has always been some general disrespect and resistance to treating me as an equal. I overcame most of this, but it has been a process of working hard to gain respect.” Ligthford said. “In focusing on my mission to improve education, I have felt some negative feedback, but I don’t see it as negative anymore. I see it as my job and I have grown in that way.”
Women only make up 17 percent of all members of the U.S. House of Representatives, 16 percent of U.S. senators, 16 percent of all governors and 24 percent of state legislators according to a 2008 Pew Research study.
Even with this reality, in 2012 nearly three quarters of African-American women say right now is a good time to be a black woman in America, according to a 2012 nationwide study from the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation.