Gender bias is still alive and well in election campaign

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) - Credit: AP

For roughly a year, Donald Trump has dominated the international air waves with his inflammatory commentary and controversial personality.Much has been written about what his (perceived) popularity in the US reflects about the national climate at the moment: a sense of fear, a reluctance to change and the idea that life was better in the 1950s before 'politically-correct' behaviour took over.

It's fairly easy to see how Trump filled a role for a population of people who needed a political figure to say all the raw, angry, offensive things they were always thinking but couldn't say.

Yet, in the Trump fever that has swept the globe, the real conversation that's been lost is about Hillary Clinton. Only in this election year could we have a white, 70-year-old man spark more interest than the first woman to be a major party nominee for the presidency in US history.

But along with that lofty title, Clinton also holds one of the lowest net favourability numbers ever measured, beaten only in unpopularity by Trump. How does a Yale Law School grad with decades of experience in public service helping migrant workers, championing education standards and advocating for children and families become so wildly disliked?

The answer is more unpalatable than the US as a country, and we as a world, would like to admit in the 21st century. Gender bias still exists and we don't know how to accurately and fairly judge a female presidential candidate.

Clinton's top 'scandals' have been non-issues for other presidential candidates or even presidents themselves.

Her use of a private email server, even though the FBI recommended no charges against her after a full review of evidence, marred her credibility. The Bush administration deleted millions of emails sent by 22 top officials from private, RNC-owned accounts after an investigation into the firing of eight US attorneys. This story saw the light of day on one talk show.

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The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has been accused of being corrupt, when in reality the group was awarded an A grade by Charity Watch and 87pc of its $249m spend in 2014 was put towards programmes including health, climate and development.

The Trump Foundation, on the other hand, spent charitable funds on portraits of 'the Donald' himself and on personal legal bills, according to The Washington Post. This story barely made a blip on the news radar or a dent in popular opinion.

We don't know what to do with Hillary Clinton. When she acts like a normal politician, bringing businesses and government together to create change, she's denounced as being money-hungry or 'crooked' (as Trump is dying for us to start declaring).

If she were to play the altruistic, bleeding heart card - early on in her career she planned health care reform that was deemed not business-friendly enough - she's slotted as not savvy enough for a high-power job.

The truth is, we don't know what a female politician, or female in a position of power, is supposed to act like.

Arguing that Clinton is a perfect person, or even a perfect candidate, would be misguided. There is an amount of critical analysis about her criticisms and the extreme hatred she tends to evoke, however, that has to come into play.

Female politicians feel the pressure of an outdated judgement scale that women must fit into. In an effort to embody non-threatening, traditional female roles, Clinton's Instagram biography reads: 'doting grandmother, among other things.' She has drawn criticism for her stony exterior, her lack of 'motherly' compassion, her pantsuits.

Theresa May, though forging a slightly smaller path as the second female PM of the UK, has been similarly judged based on 'womanly' qualities. Dozens of articles on her choice of high heels, one detailing her 'most outrageous footwear,' seem ludicrous considering the footwear of male prime ministers and presidents has been effectively ignored for centuries.

Merely putting a woman in the White House won't solve our global problem of gender inequality, one that persists in a subconscious form even in the developed world, as much as we hate to admit it.

If anything, the American election is pointing out how much work we still have left to do.

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