The Lasso

Representation matters: Mason students inspired

Sequoia Wyckoff

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Selfie of eight George Mason students at an election-watching party.

George Mason students meet with the Falls Church Democrats at Mad Fox to watch midterm election results. (Photo courtesy of Grace Tarpgaard)

Most of the people Falls Church City residents have voted for in the past few years are men. Our mayor, the majority of our City Council, our state and national Senators, and our representative are all men. On a national level, about 76 percent of Congress is comprised of men, and 16 of 22 cabinet members are men.

But after the 2018 midterm elections, for the first time, more than 100 women were elected to the House. In Virginia, three Congressional districts flipped, all electing women. And over the past few years, young women in Falls Church City are taking just as many leadership positions as young men in party committees and school clubs.

The culture of our country, Virginia, and Falls Church is changing with each “Year of the Woman.” It matters – and it matters to George Mason students.

Junior Sofia Heartney has an impressive resume: she’s a student representative to the Falls Church Democratic Committee, she helped co-found and is the vice president of the Falls Church Young Democrats, and she’s a member of the George Mason Young Democrats. As a young woman involved in politics, it’s important for her to see women running and winning on a local and national level.

“It makes Congress much more representative of the general public,” she said. “When the people in power are representative [of the public], you have better policies reflective of what people really need. I really like Tim Kaine and Senator Warner, but having new people will bring a new perspective to Congress for Virginia.”

Senior Evelyn Duross echoed this: “I was so excited that there were so many women, no matter Democrat or Republican, who were being elected. The point of our legislative branch and elected officials, in general, is to represent the population.”

Duross attended Virginia Girls State this past summer, a mock state government of high school girls from around the state. The week at Girls State was different than what she’s experienced in other areas as a politically vocal young woman.

Seven girls stand in blue robes in a mock Supreme Court.

Senior Evelyn Duross in a mock Supreme court at Girls State this summer. (Photo courtesy of Evelyn Duross)

“A lot of time at school, women feel like they can’t speak. They have ideas but they don’t say that out loud. That wasn’t a problem at Girls State and it was really empowering.”

The disproportionate number of men in government creates a culture that disproportionately supports male leaders and silences young women – it’s self-perpetuating, and with another “Year of the Women,” our country is taking an active step to combat this culture.

Duross explained why seeing women in power was so important to her: “When I saw, during the Obama administration, women being put on the Supreme court, that was really inspiring,” she said. “And at Girls State, it was all these women running. These [midterm] elections, too, were really powerful. I felt like I could actually do it, there was a way for me to do it.”

Each time an image of a woman appeared next to “projected winner” on November 6, it challenged America’s perception of what a candidate looks like. After all, if you can see it, you can be it.

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Representation matters: Mason students inspired