It's a Woman's World

Thursday, 17 Dec 2009 10:20 AM

By Jackie Gingrich Cushman

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James Brown's song "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" got it wrong — there is a quiet revolution underfoot that one day might make it more of a woman's world than a man's.

They vote more, study more, and spend more.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 70 million women and 61 million men voted in last year's presidential election. This reflects both the higher total number of women in the population (107 million women versus 99 million for men) and their higher turnout (66 percent versus 61 percent).

In the 2006-2007 academic year, women earned a majority of higher-education degrees at all levels. Women earned 62.2 percent of associate degrees, 57.4 percent of bachelor's degrees, 60.6 percent of master's degrees, and 50.1 percent of doctoral degrees, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Women are not just voting more and learning more, they also direct most of the consumer spending. They control $4.3 trillion of the $5.9 trillion in U.S. consumer spending, according to the Boston Consulting Group.

And most women have children. With an estimated 83 million mothers in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, communicating with them represents big dollars for companies and big votes for candidates.

While moms might vary in their views on policy, most moms wish for the best future possible for their children. In fact, mothers who feel their children are threatened can be thrown into "Mama Bear syndrome."

Baby bears are cute. But if you see one in the wild, it's best to walk away. Why? Because there will probably be a Mama Bear somewhere nearby — and Mama Bears will do anything to protect their cubs.

President Obama might need to be reminded that this syndrome also applies to humans. Mothers are incredibly protective of their children. They might put up with a lot, as long as their children are not involved, but getting between a mother and a child can have serious consequences.

No longer content to tell their daughters that they can become whatever they would like when they grow up, mothers are increasingly pushing themselves to model their behavior for their daughters to follow. As government continues to encroach into private lives, mothers are beginning to take notice and take action.

While mothers might not agree on specific social and political policies, they want to be involved and have control over issues affecting their family.

According to a recent Advertising Age white paper, "The New Female Consumer: The Rise of the Real Mom," today's mother "is no longer defined solely by her husband (as Mrs. John Doe) or her domestic role (housewife). Schools and companies alike have opened their doors to her. She works, she parents, she leads, she chooses."

As an example, the best-run meeting of the thousands I have attended was a PTA meeting run by moms. These moms are educated, have experience in business, and are focused and passionate about making a difference and improving their children's lives.

They are also effective. Just imagine them all organized around making America better for their children.

One such leader is Julie Smith, founder of the National Organization of Conservative Women. Determined to provide an optimistic message and build bridges, this organization is less than a year old, but sold out its inaugural lunch in Winchester, Va., by attracting women from as far away as South Carolina and Michigan.

Other examples include Natalie Rogers, Sydney Shipps and Kim Arasin in Georgia. Not content just to make sure that their children are eating healthy foods, these ladies have become tireless advocates for all children in Georgia public schools.

Their goal is for the schools to provide more nutritious meals to the students. Achieving this goal will improve children's health and help children learn.

While no longer striving to be supermoms doing everything for everyone, mothers are looking toward being pragmatic and good enough, and making a real impact in the areas that matter most for them and their children.

Whoever wants to win the next election needs to include a clearly articulated message for women and moms. What is his or her vision for the future? How can we ensure that all children have an opportunity to reach their potential and use their God-given gifts? And how can moms be a part of the link between our nation's great history and our bright future?

The candidate or the group that can harness moms for America will harness vast amounts of energy, determination and talent from a group that has already shown that, when they get organized and involved, they get things done.

© Creators Syndicate Inc.

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