Municipal Election 2010

Few Women Running In Municipal Election

By Adrian Duyzer
Published September 29, 2010

A data visualization of gender differences in Hamilton's 2010 municipal election generated from Raise the Hammer's Elections API shows that the vast majority of candidates are male.

Out of 86 candidates, 70 are male, while only 14 are female (there are no transgendered candidates so far as I am aware, and we lack data on gender for two candidates currently).

Interestingly, one thing this seems to reveal is that there are proportionally fewer women running in wards in the older city, with more running in the suburbs.

Click here to see the full visualization.

Incidentally, I built this partly out of curiousity, partly because I wanted to test-drive the Elections API, and partly because I wanted to create a demo for others who might want to build something that uses the API. The source code is open-source and freely available, so you don't have any excuse not to build something if you've got development skills!

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz

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By Sowhat!!! (anonymous) | Posted September 29, 2010 at 22:20:58

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By realfreeenterpriser (registered) | Posted September 29, 2010 at 23:42:47

"and we lack data on gender for two candidates currently"

Tom Jackson and Terry Whitehead are both male.

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By Paul (registered) | Posted September 30, 2010 at 02:16:23

Are we also not losing a female incumbant as well? I believe Ms. Pearson is the only female councillor running for re-election.

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By BeulahAve (registered) | Posted September 30, 2010 at 09:50:57

Margaret McCarthy is not running for re-election in Waterdown, but Judi Partridge seems likely to take her seat.

The YWCA runs workshops every so often to educate and encourage women to run for public office.

It would be interesting to see a gender breakdown of people making comments on RTH as well. Certainly, most articles are written by men! Not a criticism, just an observation.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 30, 2010 at 10:05:50

It would be interesting to see a gender breakdown of people making comments on RTH as well. Certainly, most articles are written by men! Not a criticism, just an observation.

Quite true. I'm not sure how we would determine the gender breakdown of commenters when most are anonymous or pseudonymous - I'm not sure how reliable textual analysis algorithms are, though anecdotally the GenderGuesser and the Gender Genie both conclude I'm male - but it's clear that most RTH contributors are male.

I'm definitely open to ideas on a) why more men than women decide to write articles for RTH and b) what to do about it.

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By SWF (anonymous) | Posted September 30, 2010 at 13:01:02

I have an idea: Blogging is for young(ish), progressive white males, what AM Radio is for middle-aged, conservative males.

What to do about it? How about not turn every article's comment section into a pissing contest over who's more the authentic urbanist.

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By AnneMariePavlov (registered) | Posted September 30, 2010 at 13:41:43

I kind of agree with SWF. Women seem to be more reserved in sharing political opinions, no matter what the forum. Being downvoted is pretty terrifying!

Watching the stadium fiasco play out, I was reminded just how male-centric municipal politics is, truly a pissing contest. And those issues spilled over onto RTH for discussion, further boring the woman in me - around the same time a Spec article ran from the Good Shepherd food bank (?) appealing desperately for baby food and diapers. Women's priorities would be WAYYYYY different if we were running council.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 30, 2010 at 13:56:01

@AnneMariePavlov

Then cowgirl-up and run. Look at the headline: nobody's complaining that women aren't getting elected, but that women aren't running. Nobody can fix that but politically-active women themselves. No matter how much people would like to have more women in council, the first step is for more ladies to throw their hat into the ring.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 30, 2010 at 14:13:19

@Pxtl The point is, that may be easier said than done.

I'm reminded of the last Ontario election, in which several female MPPs - e.g. Judy Marsales, Marie Bountrogianni, Jennifer Mossop - decided not to run for re-election. There seems to be a recurring sentiment that Queen's Park runs as a boys club with meetings at ridiculous hours and a kind of macho ethic.

To the extent that our society still places the burden of child care on mothers, that means female politicians are going to be stretched thinner than male politicians, who have an easier time getting away with being absent. (I've heard more than one politician joke that you might miss your kids growing up, but you get to catch up with your grandkids.)

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted September 30, 2010 at 14:17:33

"cowgirl-up and run....more ladies to throw their hat into the ring"

Your language comes across as demeaning.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 30, 2010 at 15:04:41

Sorry if it came off as demeaning, I just really don't get how this is a controversial statement. If we want more women representing us, more women need to run.

Would you rather I said "man-up?"?

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted September 30, 2010 at 21:33:39

SWF... so true, so painfully true. We just can`t help ourselves sometimes.

Pxtl, you just verified SWF and AnneMariePavlov`s observations beautifully.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted September 30, 2010 at 22:53:38

Woman-up, man-up... get ballsy.. get... ovarian? lol. funny how some of the phrases are a bit one-sided,

Clearly, a lot of the topics in urban revitalization have a bit of a "dudes-only" thing to them. e.g. it's cool a lot of guys bike and stuff, but I bet your ladies drive the kids around in the ve-hic-oh and get your groceries with it (not that it's a bad thing or that there's any other option, just an observation that it's easier for single, strong people to bike places). And I understand that - our infrastructure is terrifying to take kids around in anything but a car most of the time.

But I'm not running for office and being part of any type of political solution, am I?

And that's simply because I've said things too dumb/un-nuanced to not catch up with me (I think I'd get slaughtered over saying that downtown needs more people with more money than me, and not to concentrate poverty in the epicentre of the city, a la grassroots' angry comments/reactions). But also because I haven't lived here long enough to have real cred.

I think Jarod and myself are the only husband-wife commenting tag team on RTH, which is kind of funny, but I understand.. not a lot of people both have strong opinions AND express them on the same forum.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted October 01, 2010 at 08:10:25

And that's simply because I've said things too dumb/un-nuanced to not catch up with me

Ditto. And I wouldn't want to place my own family under scrutiny, in the Faceboook age. But neither would my husband, for that matter. And I don't see any budding politicos in my family yet, girls or boys, as the oldest ones finish off degrees/professional programs-- even though the kids here grow up reading the newspaper and certainly have had to learn how to make their points forcefully in an argument (esp. the middle kids).

What I do know about all of them and their friends is that they don't have a lot of time for all that junior politician resume building/networking stuff. They can't join the young Liberals/NDPs/Conservatives when they are undergrads, they've all got to hold down part-time jobs along with a full academic schedule, and many of them still live at home and so have obligations there as well. In high school, they are either working part time to take care of their own expenses, or working like hell to merit some kind of entrance scholarship to whatever post secondary institution they will attend. These kids all get their mandatory community service hours, but not in what you'd call high profile ways. Mostly it's by helping out here and there around the school, the parish, etc.

And all that was just a long way of saying that most of us, male or female, simply don't have time available to us in which to build a resume and run a campaign-- never mind the money. Even though you don't have to be a man or a landowner to run for office.

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By Jarod (registered) | Posted October 01, 2010 at 09:05:34

To be honest (and I wasn't really intending on weighing in on the discussion) I think some of the error comes in a little sooner than we would like. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of old world and gender roles that exist, especially in Hamilton.

I can say that as a college student little goes toward making politics female relevant, which it entirely is. And part of the problem is, when males try to make room for women, they don't know how. I think this has to do with the fact that they still think/treat women the same as say....20 years ago. And we can all agree much has changed since then. And even now, if you see a powerful woman making headway in the business/politics world you'll undoubtedly get people saying that she's power hungry or she's "one of those women" like that actually means anything. Ugh.

There are great programs like elect more women and such. But I think it needs to start sooner. I've spoken to dozens of youth about civic engagement. Every single (I'm not lying) response took one general form. "That class was boring, we didn't talk about much..." When you watch the House Of Commons on TV it's obvious there are many females present, but for the most part I don't think young kids especially females are given the opportunity to see how fun, sexy, exciting and interesting politics can be. (I say sexy, but I mean appealing...not in a physical sense....)And if there were parts of that class that were to focus in on great women in politics...and not just presidents wives...younger females might begin to show an interest earlier.

Empowering teen/young adult females I think, is the key to engaging them before they hit that male centric stage where they have so much to come up against. It's almost a lost battle before they begin. It starts with expecting more out of women as well. (This applies to both men and women) But at college...everywhere I look there are women/girls acting in ways, talking, gossiping and sometimes being catty to one another. I do see women working hard, studying, interested in intellectual relationships with other people, including men. But the world around us doesn't offer much expectation. When you set a bar that low, or even encourage it, you can't help but follow.

For me, Mohawk serves as high school 2.0. A chance to live in that not yet grown up bubble where people can continue to make or live without much consequences. Instead, we should be expecting more, channeling proper behavior, encouraging intellectual stimulation when it comes to politics, and for goodness sake, grow up already. We can't possibly say we're in a good place, when according to the marketing world, we're not all growed up until we're 25 - 30.

In the end, I believe it comes down to expectations. If you expect little, you get little. You raise that bar, even high enough where failure is likely, not just possible, you'll be surprised at how much people will accomplish to achieve. Besides...like most things, women are likely better at it (politics) than men.

Our goal shouldn't be to get more women in politics so we have more women in politics. It should be to have more women in politics because we thirst for and crave their good ideas, strong thought process, sensible reasoning and, as a general rule..though there are exceptions, their honesty.

(I know this has been repetitive and cyclical and I apologize)

Comment edited by Jarod on 2010-10-01 08:18:36

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By SWF (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2010 at 10:48:46

Yes, Pxtl, you perfectly illustrated my point. You urban-y, blog-y types get your jollies through one-upping people intellectually (although most of that action occurs in the comments section via tearing people and ideas down, instead of building up).

"I just really don't get how this is a controversial statement. If we want more women representing us, more women need to run."

You're assuming the problem lies with women for not wanting to participate in a male-dominated forum that rewards certain personality traits (like competitiveness and a work-centred life) that are not traditionally "female" traits.

"Our goal shouldn't be to get more women in politics so we have more women in politics. It should be to have more women in politics because we thirst for and crave their good ideas, strong thought process, sensible reasoning and, as a general rule..though there are exceptions, their honesty. "

Thank you, Jarod. That was very lucid and respectful.

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By SW? (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2010 at 10:58:29

@SWF So men have "certain personality traits" like competitiveness and work-centredness and getting their jollies one-upping each other in pissing contents but women have different personality traits that would make politics about building up rather than tearing down...... woman or man, I find that blatant gender stereotyping offensive.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 01, 2010 at 11:08:36

While I'm not prepared to wade into the dangerous, murky waters of gender differences, I can anecdotally relate the common response to my personal attempts to persuade women to write for RTH (I'm a bit like the Amway guy in that respect - everyone I meet is a potential contributor :).

What I keep hearing is that people don't want to write something and then get trashed in the comments. This is a major reason why I've spent a good part of the last year and a half trying through various means to encourage more respect and civility in the comments. No one should ever be afraid to speak up lest they be shouted down by some obnoxious troll.

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By SWF (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2010 at 11:09:01

Believe what you will, SW, but there are very many excellent and credible texts by psychologists on emotion and personality and gender. There are literally thousands of papers detailing the differences between genders in psychological reactions to stimuli. You might consider reading one or two. The characteristics you label "stereotypes" have been consistently observed to line up quite well with gender differences in experiencing emotion.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted October 01, 2010 at 11:12:22

I don't think anyone's going so far as to say those traits aren't intrinsically part of females as well, but that often women are only shown how to parlay their competitiveness into interpersonal conflicts or personal items, and their work ethic into family, etc.... and the negative side of that is being told certain traits are unacceptable, or wrong for a particular gender, which happens as well.

To me it's more about having role models (current or historical examples) that give people a bit of a paradigm shift - than getting into endless arguments :)

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By birdie (registered) | Posted October 01, 2010 at 11:13:43

I think getting some more "female" (quote-unquote) values in politics would be good for everyone, men and women.

Comment edited by birdie on 2010-10-01 10:13:55

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By z jones (registered) | Posted October 01, 2010 at 11:49:04

Ptxl: "Then cowgirl-up and run. ... the first step is for more ladies to throw their hat into the ring. ... Would you rather I said "man-up?"?"

SWF: "How about not turn every article's comment section into a pissing contest over who's more the authentic urbanist. ... You urban-y, blog-y types get your jollies through one-upping people intellectually"

I hear the exact same snark in both commenters.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted October 01, 2010 at 12:51:52

Maybe, but I find SWF snark REALLY funny!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 01, 2010 at 14:28:12

Wait, there are people here seriously arguing that women aren't in politics because the salty language and masculine atmosphere offend their delicate feminine sensibilities...

and I'm the condescending one?

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted October 01, 2010 at 14:37:52

I'm not one to get offended by most language or intimidated easily by a masculine atmosphere, but I know many women are very easily intimidated/offended/turned off by that.

(edit: - to clarify - this still has a lot to do with upbringing, expectations, and environment.... which can be changed.)

It's not exciting or particularly politically correct, but it's true.

Comment edited by Meredith on 2010-10-01 13:42:43

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2010 at 15:33:29

ROTFLMAO!! I COULDN'T get past the 1st comment in this thread!! :D

Quote: "And there are no left handed undersized latino hard of hearing goateed vegetarians either...so far as I know....So what!!! People run who think they can win or who just want to try to win."

(Isn't it great to know that the majority of the population -over 51%, are something as bizarre, & 'Special' as the individual that the poster describes? :D Maybe he's just talking about how he perceives the nature of women who run for public office?)

If there are many more like him, (yeh..I'm making that assumption that the poster is male) who could blame women for not throwing their poke bonnet, hijab, veil, etc. into the ring. They clearly couldn't win against that kind of '?Logic?'.

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By CityJoe(sephine) (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2010 at 15:42:07

I'm with you on this Annamarie!

Quote: "Watching the stadium fiasco play out, I was reminded just how male-centric municipal politics is, truly a pissing contest. And those issues spilled over onto RTH for discussion, further boring the woman in me - around the same time a Spec article ran from the Good Shepherd food bank (?) appealing desperately for baby food and diapers. Women's priorities would be WAYYYYY different if we were running council."

What Political Man wants to talk about baby food & diapers when a building, maybe with His Name on it (Ooooo! Aaaaaaaw!) will stand for years, assuming it ever gets built, in spite of the pissing contests. :{

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 01, 2010 at 18:29:04

I've always thought that we should be trying to breakdown barriers to women's increased participation simply as a matter of fairness, not because we would necessarily get better governance. Apparently I was wrong.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 01, 2010 at 20:29:26

@highwater

Part of Globe and Mail's massive rebranding has been about capturing more female readers. Right now, the Star gets most of Toronto's female readership, so Globe and Mail is trying to branch out and get more upscale womens' ads. That front-page article is part of it.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 01, 2010 at 22:44:08

The article is about a study appearing in this month's edition of Science. Is Science trying to up its female readership too, or is it possible that the researchers are actually on to something?

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted October 03, 2010 at 00:28:54

Well, we could do what other countries have been doing for some time. Take the brain of a 70 year old extreme Right Wing Conservative male & put it into the body of a not unattractive woman candidate. :D

In some circles this is considered fairness, in others it's just tokenism.

Can't we have both gender equality in our candidates & better government?

Probably not at this time.

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 18:59:28

Well here`s a comment from `molly`of Dundas about female candidate Danya.

Quote: ``Danya - ran a old flea market and raised kids. Yep, that's what we need in City hall??.``

Now isn`t it Just Great! : ( when `molly`, presumable a woman, has a problem with child rearing & sees it as a kind of liability?

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