Interview with Angelina Oh

Interview with Angelina Oh
Senior, Canyon Crest Academy
by Maxin Rivera, Operations Director, Run Women Run

The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court underscores the work ahead of us when it comes to consent and accountability for sexual misconduct. Kavanaugh’s approval was rubber stamped and Dr. Ford, who had the courage to come forward with her story, was ridiculed and ignored. The only way to ensure women’s voices are heard is to have more women in seats of power. That’s why we are reaffirming our commitment to electing more women to public office.

With election day around the corner, both sides of the aisle are working to get out the vote, and engage young voters. Although millennials are supposed to outnumber boomers by 2019, voter turnout among young people trails significantly. How do we cultivate leadership and civic engagement among young people?

Angelina Oh is a 17-year old Canyon Crest Academy student who is determined to disprove the assumption of apathy, speak truth to power, and engage her peers in meaningful discussions about  gender stereotypes, advancing equity and mobilizing change. We met Angelina at the “Leave Your Mark” workshop hosted by RWR and the UNA USA San Diego Women’s Equity Council in celebration of the 98th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States.  Angelina plans on majoring in Political Science and recently completed a research paper on The Perpetuation of Female Under-Representational Politics. We asked her some questions about her interest in politics, here’s what she had to say:

How did you become interested in politics? 
Angelina:
I became interested in politics for its ability to impact the people on the national, state, and local levels. I think often times people neglect or ignore the importance of civic engagement even at the local level to better the community and promote greater change. What people also tend to doubt is the profound influence that passed legislation, from our US Senators all the way to our local governors, can have on local communities and individuals. Because of how distant we can feel from power or how minute we feel our voices may be, I think it’s all the more important to encourage others around us to remain politically active so that our representatives can properly do their job in representing us and our voices in law.

What do you think interests young people most?
Angelina: I think young people are most interested in the issues that relate back to them the most. That’s why many young individuals, especially in the San Diego area, advocated for gun control and stricter background checks due to the Florida school shooting. Events like these hit close to home for young people, who now live in a reality where receiving an education can put them in harm’s way. Issues regarding social injustice are also ones that young people tend to gravitate toward because they have personally been victimized by discriminatory acts based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. or because their range for what is considered socially acceptable has broadened from previous decades.

Your research focuses on examining why women are underrepresented in government. How does this relate to gender stereotypes in the media?
Angelina: One way of assessing how gender stereotypes influence female under-representation in politics is by determining their effect on the voters. The media is one avenue in which gender stereotypes can extort the public’s view of a female candidate; it tends to display many biased portrayals of women, which then influences the way the public views and judges female individuals (Ryan, 2013).

By reinforcing gender stereotypes, the traditional views of women then limit the scope of normality for what women can be and are allowed to be in society. This normality issue then becomes a distractor, which the media takes advantage of by diverting the public’s attention toward other issues as opposed to the achievements or policies that the female candidate has (Bauer, 2013).

By getting less exposure in the media as a politician, in comparison to their male peers, female candidates are faced with more challenges that could limit their electoral and legislative success. In fact, when analyzing the effect of gender differences in the media of male and female candidates, it was concluded that stereotypes hurt female candidates as the level of office increases (Kahn, 1994); this demonstrates that women have to withstand biased media portrayals in order to obtain a high-level political position.

Since the media is the public’s main source of information, especially for political news, it has a significant hold over the voters’ beliefs and decisions. That’s why any form of discussion held on the media’s part to reinforce stereotypes will pose a challenge for female candidates. With the media’s ability to dilute a female politician’s campaign by focusing on other distracting issues, the odds are stacked against women in politics, making it much more difficult for them to gain the same success and level of respect as a male candidate might have.

Because of how distant we can feel from power or how minute we feel our voices may be, I think it’s all the more important to encourage others around us to remain politically active so that our representatives can properly do their job in representing us and our voices in law.

How do we engage youth?
Angelina: The most effective way to engage youth is to show them that we care about them. Often times, we’re discouraged from partaking in community events or local movements because we feel as if our voices won’t matter or because we’ll be regarded as incapable of developing grounded and justified opinions. The power and intelligence we have are often neglected, and it’s this very point that prevents us from actively participating in the world around us. We need the encouragement and support from our community members in order for us to step up and take our role as the future leaders bringing global change.

Run Women Run would like to thank: Angelina Oh, UNA USA San Diego, and “Leave Your Mark” event speakers: Kimala Price, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University, Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry, City of San Diego, Nora E. Vargas, Southwestern College Governing Board Member, and Michelle Price, President of Califa NOW of Greater.

Run Women Run is a non-partisan organization that inspires, recruits, and trains pro-choice women running for office in San Diego County. To learn more about the organization and sign up for membership, click here.

References

Bauer, N. M. (2013). “Rethinking Stereotype Reliance: Understanding the Connection between Female Candidates and Gender Stereotypes.” Politics and the Life Sciences, 32(1), 22–4

Ryan, K. (2013). “The Media’s War on Women: Gendered Coverage of Female Candidates.” Xavier Journal of Politics, 4(1), 13-25.

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