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Ladies, bring your folding chairs. We’re getting a seat at this table.

Duncan Student Center replaced the legislative chamber of the United States Capitol for Senator Mallory McMorrow this past March. Returning to her Alma Mater, the 2008 graduate joined a panel of eight Notre Dame alumnae to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the admission of undergraduate women at the University of Notre Dame.

Part of the celebration dubbed “Golden is Thy Fame,” Career Conversations with Trailblazing Women invited Sen. McMorrow to share her experience building a career in the contentious domain of American politics. More specifically, building a successful career as a woman. The aforementioned title of the event deserves commendation for its accuracy. The female panelists boldly blazed trails in their respective fields — trails that others now have the option to follow.

Sen. McMorrow in particular is a critical figure for young women aspiring to work in politics and government. She represents what is possible for women given enough strength and passion. She proves what is possible for women when we risk, persevere and demand a seat at the table.

Sen. McMorrow currently serves Michigan’s eighth district — a significant feat considering the state of Michigan did not elect a woman to the U.S. Senate until 2000. Michigan’s first female senator, Debbie Stabenow and Sen. McMorrow both campaigned in the 2018 election cycle. 2018 continues to be a beacon of hope for proponents of equal political representation. Women candidacies reached a historical high in 2018, exposing a promising trend in American politics—the increased mobilization and political engagement of women. Female leaders benefit society as a whole; however, real, lasting change requires more than individual successes. It requires action. Now. When inadequacy translates to candidacy, things get done.

Despite the unprecedented number of women running for office, the discouraging reality is that we still have a long way to go. While 51 percent of the United States population are women, women make up just 24 percent of the Senate. The result? The underrepresentation of women in American politics.

Of the people. By the people. For the people.

The issues we face as a country are women’s issues. If social, political and structural barriers exist for women in electoral politics, we must find a way to alter the system. Our country suffers when half of its population is granted a quarter of its voice.

Trailblazers like Sen. Mallory McMorrow provide an essential perspective on Capitol Hill. Women’s issues must be at the forefront of the American agenda — not only for lawmakers, but for the general public. The U.S. lags behind other established democracies when it comes to women’s representation in politics. But we cannot win seats if we do not run. At our current rate, the U.S. will not reach complete legislative parity for another hundred years. We must accelerate this timeline. Instead of asking for a seat at the table, women must demand a seat at every table.

You can contact Ashlyn at apoppe2@nd.edu

BridgeND is a multi-partisan political club committed to bridging the partisan divide through respectful and productive discourse. It meets on Tuesdays at 5pm in Duncan Student Center W246 to learn about and discuss current political issues, and can be reached at bridgend@nd.edu or on Twitter @bridge_ND.

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