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When There Are Nine

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

Women are under-represented in leadership. Let's change that.

After the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, many are reflecting on her legacy as a champion for gender equality and equal protection under the law. When asked when there would be enough women on the Supreme Court, she famously responded: "When there are nine".


“So now the perception is, yes, women are here to stay. And when I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the supreme court]? And I say when there are nine, people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.” - Ruth Bader Ginsburg


In the United States, and here in South Carolina, there is a leadership gap for women in leadership and elected positions. According to the South Carolina Women's Leadership Network, women are roughly 51% of the population in South Carolina, but hold just 16% of offices in the state legislature. Of the 170 state legislators, only 10 are African American women. South Carolina currently has no female representation in the U.S. Congress.

Here in Beaufort County, there is a gap as well. We have made some progress with a female Mayor in Bluffton; and the County Administrator, and Treasurer are women, and currently five out of eleven representatives on the School Board of Trustees are women. However, in my lifetime, there have never been more than three female representatives on the Beaufort County Council. Why can't we break the 30% ceiling? Ask yourself, how things would be different if representation reflected reality. Justice Ginsburg understood that equality isn't as simple as a formula of 50/50 - true equality is removing the barriers and perceptions that normalize an all-male board, but not an all-female board. We still have work to do.

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