Why Should We Care How Female Politicians Dress?

18/07/2016 16:19 | Updated 18 July 2016

Women in politics is becoming a more familiar sight; Angela Merkel has now been the Chancellor of Germany for 11 years, the United Kingdom has just appointed their second ever female Prime Minister in the form of Theresa May and it looks incredibly likely that in November, it will be announced that Hillary Clinton is going to be the 45th President of the United States. All in all, women are dominating recent leadership races and roles of political power. There are currently 16 women across the globe in Prime Minister and President roles, whilst still an incredibly low percentage of worldwide leaders, this marks a stark improvement in the correct direction. Why then, in our current global situation, are women in politics still not taken seriously by the public and the press?

I was recently shocked and angered by a headline, published the day Theresa May became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, comparing May to Hillary Clinton. This headline wasn't comparing their policies, or their outstanding political achievements, it was comparing and judging the two on the clothes that they had chosen to wear that day. Seemingly, two outstanding and powerful women choosing to wear the same colour combinations on the same day was worthy of headline news. Can you imagine David Cameron and Barack Obama making headlines by both choosing to wear navy suits on the same day? In today's modern society, why should there be such distinct differences in the way that male and female politicians are reported upon? Since Theresa May's appointment, the same news publication has released several similar stories and videos including one entitled 'The Prime Minister wears Prada!', concentrating on the shoe preference of our new nation's leader.

As a young woman hoping to enter the political realm I am appalled at the way in which female politicians are judged and reported on first by their fashion sense and second by their policies. Why should what a women chooses to wear articulate their leadership powers? To me, this should play no part in assessing how competent potential leaders are and should not be something concerning the British public and major news publications.

The recent appointments of women within the political realm would suggest to many that politics is no longer a patriarchal field, take for example Theresa May's newly appointed cabinet. Sadly though, this is not the case, politics is still very much a man's world regardless of the fact that the majority of the major UK political parties are currently led by women.

Sexism within politics is something I now have a much greater understanding of following my time working on the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign earlier this year in both Iowa and New Hampshire. I came into contact with a worrying number of American citizens who informed me that they would not be voting for Hillary Clinton simply for the reason that she was a woman. For these seemingly narrow-minded people, what was important in a future leader was not policies, political experience or values, simply the gender of the candidate. This was a frequent response from American citizens, what was most worrying for me is that this response also came from women. Under our current global environment, why are women all over the world still believing the patriarchal view that women are inferior to men, especially within the political field. We as a society should be far more concerned about women undertaking this inferior self-image.

Following the appointment of our nation's second ever female Prime Minster, regardless of political orientations, I believe it is fundamentally important to acknowledge the under-appreciated role of women within politics. Female leaders across the globe are undertaking the somewhat impossible task of convincing the narrow-minded few that they are more than capable of fulfilling a leadership role. I only hope that in twenty years time the thought of a female Prime Minister or President is no longer thought of as a novelty or as a contentious issue, that female politicians will be judged in the same way as their male counterparts, with candidates being judged upon as a result of their policies, not gender.

Rather than concentrating on shoe preferences and colours of outfits, the political message over the last week is one that Nicola Sturgeon perfectly articulated over Twitter. That politics aside, girls everywhere should be observing the recent female political appointments and as a result believe that nothing should be off limits for them.