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April 12, 1984 - Image 4

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-04-12

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OPINION

Page 4

Thursday, April 12, 1984

Gender Gap

could prove crucial in

The Michigan Daily
'84

A couple of months ago Barbara
Farah would have been lecturing to
University students on women in
politics or doing research at the
University 's Institute for Social
Research, but now she is in New
York and director of polls for the
New York Times. Farah spoke with
Daily Opinion Page editor Jackie Young
last month on several issues relating
to the political power of women and
Dialogue
its effects on the 1984 presidential
elections.
One of the major differences in
the way men and women vote at the
polls is something described as the
Gender Gap. Farah says that there
are three distinct differences noted
since 1980 which resulted in the
political phenomena now known as
the Gender Gap. In the 1980 elec-
tions, the majority of women voted
for Jimmy Carter with 10 percent
fewer choosing Ronald Reagan.
Then in 1982, in twq major
states-New York and Texas-more
women voted for the Democratic
candidate. Michigan 's gubernatorial
contest was also decided basically

Farah, the rise in the number of
women of voting age has also
created a potentially powerful gap.
The third difference connected with
the Gender Gap, Farah says, is the
priority women put on the issues.
Women are more concerned about
social welfare spending, the en-
vironment, womens issues, and
most are against a military buildup.
Men 's priorities are geared more
toward economic policy, strong
defense spending, and measures to
reduce the federal deficit. February
opinion polls showed 44 percent of
the women felt President Reagan
was responsible for the tragedy in
Lebanon compared to only 5 per-
cent of the men polled. Farah says
that such obvious discrepancies
based on gender now make the
women's vote "nothing to be sneezed
at. "
* *.*
Daily; Do you have any statistics as
to how many women are registered
Democrats and how many are
registered Republicans? Each party
likes to say that they have traditionaly
been the party most supportive of
women.
Farah: What we've shown is that we
are not sure that registration will ex-
trapolate with voting. We know more
women are identifying with the
Democratic Party than with the
Republican Party. There are more
registered Democrats and more
Democratic identifiers than
Republicans. We've discovered over
the last five years that more women are
identifying with the Democratic party

than men. And there's a real gap there
too. Women are really going toward the
Democratic Party. Part of it has to do
with feeling it's a safe haven or having a
sense that the Democratic Party is
more fit to their life style..
Daily: Have you any studies which
rate the political power of women?
Farah: In just numbers there are
more women than men. And there are

on this. You find that only'14 percent of
state legislatures are women. Nation-
wide, in all the state houses, there are
only around 1,000 women. There are
only around 22 women in Congress out
of 435 in the House and 100 in the Senate.
That's an appalling three or four per-
cent. There is one women on the
Supreme Court so that's a little better
ratio out of eight.

'If more women vote and the turnout among
women increases and is higher than that of
men, then they for sure can elect the next
president. Women have a lot of power.'

more women voters than men voters.
So there is a lot of potential there. The
turnout of women and men is not the
same but again there are more women
and that's got to make a difference even
when the turnout does not change. If
more women vote and the turnout
among women increases and is higher
than that of men, then they for sure can
elect the next president. Women have a
lot of power. Any one group which in-
creases their voter turnout increases
their power. You increase those num-
bers and especially if it were
strategically placed in certain areas
where those voted are needed, then you
start to change the dynamics of the
election.
Daily: Have there always been more
women voters than men voters?
Farah: No. This has only occurred in
the last decade that women went over
men. The more sobering side of the
point is that women are not powerful in
elected office. I have done a lot of work

Daily: But Sandra Day O'Connor
hasn't necessarily represented her
female constituency on the issues.
Farah: Yes. There is also a
qualitative or quantitative argument. I
used to debate with students when I
taught at the University whether it was
better to have quality, meaning women
who would vote for womens issues, or is
it the numbers that count? What I have
discovered over time is that I really
delve on the quantity argument more
than I did before because I see someone
like Paula Hawkins who is a rather con-
servative senator from Florida. Yet she
has been very cognizant of women's
issues, though very much like Ronald
Reagan on some of the economic issues.
She is aware of issues as a woman that a
man would not be as aware of. And I
have heard that repeated among mem-
bers of a lot of state legislatures. That is
a very significant thing that women
have different agendas than men -
even though a woman may be more

conservative. Granted it's a two-edged
sword, it's a matter of who you get.
Daily: What are the chances that a
woman will be nominated to the
position of vice president this year? In
which party?
Farah: People can be very uncon-
sciously critical. There seems to be a
real sense of who would be suitable as a
vice presidential candidate. And I have
a feeling somebody who is senator or
who is governor has the qualifications
to get that vote. Somebody else who has
not been at the national level or in pubic
life or as visible may not be seen as
being accomplished enough. So I'm just
not convinced that the public is going to
think a woman is qualified enough. For
a male vice presidential candidate
there is more tolerance. Men are seen
as being more experienced just for
being men, more readily than women.
And until you get past that hurdle
where women as vice presidentialucan-
didates are coming along quite often,
the. parties are going to have to be a lit-
tle more circumspect as far as who they
pick for that spot.
Daily: Is it realistic to expect a
woman to be nominated or even to be
elected president in the next decade or
so?
Farah: Gallup polls have asked the
question: "If a woman is qualified and
if everything else is equal would you
vote for a woman for president?"
During the '30s when we first started to
ask the question, the majority opinion
was against a woman as president. Now
we're up to somewhere in the high 80s
approval of a woman as president. So
the public opinion shows that people are
willing to say they think of a woman as
president but whether they will act on it
really depends. Some of the women's
organizations are now arguing that
women shouldn't settle for second

place, that they should just go for the
big presidential position. I hope the
electorate will do the following: If a
woman were to win a party's
nomination, the electorate would see
that woman as a serious candidate who
would be seen as no different than any
other candidate running for that
position and therefore gender would ulot
enter into the vote at all. But it's going
to be more difficult, which is true in any
profession, because there aren't that
many women up at the top yet or in the
position from which you can make
your leap. Most presidential candidates
come from the Senate or a governor-
ship and if you look around, there aren't
that many women in these positions.
There are two senators and one gover-
nor so while it surely isn't impossible,
it's just harder to convince people that
you are qualified to be a viable can-
didate coming from a position outside
of government, or if you are not high up
in national politics. That's the way it is.
There is a very strong recruitment lad-
der or a career ladder which you go
through.w
Daily: What other political
phenomena now are you noting relating
to women and the Gender Gap.
Farah: One of the things that is
very exciting is the massive voter
registration drive focusing on women
and the registration drive focusing on
minorities. The women's registration
drive is very critical because they are
aiming it at women who traditionally
don't vote - women who are poor'
women who are on welfare - and if you
get those women to vote, again it may
change the texture of American
politics. The system may be a little
more representative than it is now.
Dialogue is an occasional feature
of the Opinion Page.

because ofj
and men

the gap between women
voters. According to

i

di ae dsteta nivt fan
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Vol. XCIV-No. 154

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Heat Stroke

La~ anL -I'Pq
- 1 A5 supT N~
To ?READ DAFTLY..
y1
0 ..~-' ( N

/

IT'S A GOOD idea not to start out the
summer with any delusions. The
heat of those long-awaited months has
a tendency to affect one's mind, so it is
best to enter the upcoming balmy days
with a firm, clear understanding of
what's going on.
As far as the University, and
specifically as regent-student
relations go, it is important to keep in
mind the words of Regent Thomas
Roach: "Yes, (student opinion) mat-
ters, but at the same time you've got to
remember that this is not a
democracy. We don't make decisions
based on what students think." It
would be a mistake to go home to Flint,'
or Birmingham, or Chicago believing
that upon your return in the fall your
voice was going to matter in any
decisions being made at the Univer-
sity.
A notable decision will be arrived at
next fall: whether or not to establish
the student code for non-academic
conduct. And all of the evidence
suggests that no matter how loud and
broad-based opposition to the code is,
the regents and administration just
won't listen.
The regents ignored the results of
this year's Michigan Student Assembly
elections in which 79 percent of the
students voting rejected the code. They
also ignored the message of the
University-sponsored hearing on the
code in which 22 of 24 students who
spoke said they would like to see the
code thrown out or major revisions
to it made. And University President
Harold Shapiro has made clear his
willingness to amend or abolish Regen-
ts' Bylaw 7.02 which requires that MSA
approve the code before it can be
Ptalichad Th rpopnts andna-

Regent Deane Baker remarks "I
wouldsay that 75 percent of students
on campus don't care whether MSA
exists," he has hit upon a very impor-
tant point. The student . body doesn't
care about MSA. Not because MSA is
incompetent, not because it is not
representative, but because it is com-
pletely powerless. President Shapiro
stated it accurately: "The power of
MSA is there only when the regents
decide it will be." The student voice
has been emasculated breeding
resignation and apathy.
Mocking MSA, Baker also said that,
"MSA gains by opposing (the code). It
gives them a cause to champion." His
belittling of pursuing causes ignores
the broad support that this particular
cause possesses. The regents like to
think that despite all of the opposition,
there exists out there strong student
approval for the code. Regent Thomas
Roach has even talked of a ridiculous
Institute of Social Research survey
which he hopes could once-and-for-all
accurately guage the student position.
Not that the results would matter even
if a great majority disapproved. "No
matter what people say," said Baker,
"the regents make the final decision on
all of these judgements."
That's too bad, because what if the
regents are wrong? Concerning the
issue of extending research guidelines,
the regents ignored the student body,
ignored the Faculty Senate, and even
ignored the administration when they
rejected the extended guidelines last
summer. After all, what do students,
professors, and administrators really
know about military research? But the
code is being created for the students.
It is supposed to protect students,
restrain students. Dunish students. and

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

_ , eAS: .. s y

Concentrate on local acti~v

To the Daily:
There is no explanation for the
incredibly low voter participation
in the recent Ann Arbor City elec-
tions. In the precincts in and
around the University in-
volvement by registered voters
did not reach 10 percent. Aside
from destructive graffiti, what
other ways are there to express
one's views?
The fact that there was no
mayoral election, or probably
more important that there was no
proposed repeal of the $5 pot law,
does not excuse the low turnout.
How can anyone denounce the
importance of city government?
As students we live here at least 8
months out of the year.
Technically it is our home so why
not exercise the power of voting?
People are naive if they are only
preoccupied with the so-called
big national or international
issues. The plain truth of the
matter is that all these voices are
barely heard, and certainly are
not loud enough to vibrate the
eardrums of the people who make
the decisions.
The realization of the impor-
tance of city government is

United States involvement in
Central America and nuclear
disarmament. But one's
credibility as a political activist
is ruined when one forfeits the
right and duty to vote.
The issues in this election were
applicable to anyone living in
Ann Arbor-whether a resident

or not. The road conditions are
the most obvious and the need for
a better bike pathway system is
equally so. But what about the
issues that aren't so obvious, like
the removal of stagnate city of-
ficials, the immensely high
property tax that rips tenants off
with each rent payment, and the

S
Ism
need to address automobile
parking in the city. Instead of
preaching for the United States
out of El Salvador, consider get-
ting yourself out of Ann Arbor if
you're not going to vote.
-Eric Mazade
April 6

Premeds are people too

To the Daily:
We were quite disappointed by
your article "Gunning through
Medical School" (Weekend, April
6). In consenting to interviews
with a Daily reporter, we
foolishly assumed that what we
said would be accurately and ob-
jectively recounted. This article
has taught us a painful lesson:
Daily reporters hear what they
want to and ignore everything
else, thereby perpetuating
misconceptions rather than
enlightening their readers.
For example, while expressing
to the reporter that academic
BLOOM COUNTY

rigors sometimes require one to
make personal sacrifices, we
clearly stated that these sacrifices
were common to almost all
University students, not ex-
clusively those who intend to go
to medical school.
While we may not have been as
academically underchallenged
as one of our premed counterpar-
ts, whose displeasure with the ar-
ticle provoked a letter
"Premeds not chained to tex-
tbooks" Daily, April 8), we too
have attended a variety of spor-
ting and social events and have
had the opportunity to become

involved in campus and com-
munity service organizations.
We resent the implication that we
or any, of our friends, are
narrowly focussed merely
'because we have chosen
medicine as a career.
We hope that we will someday
become a credit to our profession
and, more importantly, to the
people we serve. We only wish
that you at the Daily could do the
same.
-Robert Weinfeld
Erick Remer
April 9
by Berke Breathed

MI A __DWT . ,.r l /7-

I A MY OPINION I5 /

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