"Being a woman who wants to go into politics, I’ve always been acutely aware of the representation gap we face. However, I don’t think I truly saw all of the benefits increased representation can bring until this year."
My name is Marilyn Harbert, I’m a senior at Bryn Mawr College, and I’m delighted to be a research intern at RepresentWomen this summer. I major in Political Science and minor in Computer Science, and I’m very passionate about technology policy, gender-based violence, and women’s representation in politics.
My research background is in tracking the online footprints of sex-trafficking and studying the way bad welfare policies can harm victims of domestic violence. I’m excited to use my technical and research skills to help RepresentWomen this summer. Diving into research on fundraising and PACs, I hope to develop more statistical research skills and learn about money and gender in politics.
Being a woman who wants to go into politics, I’ve always been acutely aware of the representation gap we face. However, I don’t think I truly saw all of the benefits increased representation can bring until this year. I spent a semester abroad working in the Scottish Parliament for Shona Robison MSP, former Health Secretary of Scotland.
With 20 years on the job (as many years as Scotland has had a parliament), Robison is excently skilled at the job of an MSP, which involves serving her constituents, pushing forward legislation, engaging with community groups, and advocating for those most important issues. At the same time, I saw how she also took on issues that disproportionately affect women and pushed their voices to the forefront. Through meeting female pensioners facing cuts to social security, joining the sex-trafficking committee, and pushing for changes to implementation of welfare policies that harm domestic violence victims, Shona Robison MSP showed me how important representation can be.
She also pushed me to go into politics and go to law school, serving as an excellent mentor and role model who allowed me to see myself in the same role. Just another benefit of more representation in politics.
With their first female head of state, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, 35% of the parliament being women, and a lesbian leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Scotland has come further than many nations in terms of representation. On the party level, zipped lists and quotas for women on short lists to replace retiring candidates as well as mixed member proportional representation have undoubtedly helped them advance, however there is still so much work to be done. But with intelligent, hardworking women like Shona, and all the people on the RepresentWomen team, I think we have a fighting chance.