Women Making Strides in Nevada Politics

Following the Nov. 6 election, if all results hold, it seems as though women are set to outnumber men in Nevada’s state assembly 22–20. As Maggie Schmutz and Julie Johnson report, this could be the first time in state history that women hold a majority in either chamber of the state legislature.


 Jacky Rosen, here at a rally at the University of Nevada, Reno, also won, giving Nevada two women Senators. Photo by Julie Johnson.


Inspired Students


Wins in the state legislature for women come alongside Kate Marshall (D) being elected as Nevada’s Lieutenant Governor, and Jacky Rosen (D) taking Dean Heller’s senate seat. These election results have stirred up excitement among some students at the University of Nevada, Reno, who see this as a gateway for more women to enter the realm of public service, and for women’s voices to be heard in political discussions.


“There’s a difference between telling young girls they can accomplish anything they want, and showing them. Having young girls growing up with local, national, international women role models in political roles will show there is a possibility for them to do it too,” said Jenny Purdue, 19, the Assistant Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Associated Students of the University of Nevada (ASUN).


Purdue said she believes the #MeToo movement empowered women to use their voices and share experiences, thus increasing activism that has lead to these election results.


 Many women students said they felt empowered during the current election cycle. Photo by Julie Johnson.


Different Reasons for Women’s Uprising


Olivia Komanduri is a 21-year-old political science and international affairs major who interned for Hillary Clinton’s primary campaign as well as for the other woman US Senator, Catherine Cortez Masto. Komanduri said she is unsure if the #MeToo movement created the rise in women’s representation in government.


“I am not sure if the rise in women representation was necessarily sparked by the #MeToo movement,” Komanduri said. “But I feel that the movement has shown women that their voices and issues matter. I feel the culture has also changed to encourage women to run for office and be involved in politics, which may have contributed to the rise in women representation.”


Both Komanduri and Purdue feel as if this rise in representation hasn’t necessarily fixed everything.


“There has been a lot of progress made, yet there is still so far to go,” said Purdue, when asked about the representation of women in politics.


 Students said they believed even if they win, for women the standards are much higher than for men in politics. Photo by Julie Johnson.


Different Standards for Women?


Purdue pointed out that while Nevada previously elected Catherine Cortez Masto, a Latina senator, the United States still has a long way to go when it comes to having more women of color as representatives.


Komanduri said she sees a problem with the way women are represented when it comes to holding positions of political power.


“The concerns raised about women leaders are always different than those about male leaders. Women are more often depicted as ‘irrational’ and ‘incompetent’ in ways that men are not,” Komanduri said.


She also pointed out that there has yet to be a woman elected as governor of Nevada, or as president of the United States. However, Komanduri said she hopes this win will encourage younger generations of women to step forward and fill in those gaps.


“Often, women feel that if they do not see many women involved, they will not have a seat at the table,” she said. “Having more women role models within our political leadership sets a good example to young girls.”


Reporting by Julie Johnson and Maggie Schmutz for the Reynolds Sandbox
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