Twenty years. That’s how long it’s been since the last time a woman moderated a presidential debate — the last woman to do so was ABC’s Carole Simpson in 1992. Since then, women have served as Secretary of State, Speaker of the House, even presidential and vice presidential candidates, but the Presidential Debate Committee has only selected men to serve as debate moderators.
Young women fight back. Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel and Elena Tsemberis are all sophomores in high school, and they think it’s ridiculous that women aren’t being given a job they’re clearly capable of doing. “Men are no more capable of being debate moderators than women — but for the last two decades, only men have been given the job,” they say.
You can help. Emma, Sammi and Elena started a petition on Change.org asking the Commission on Presidential Debates, which selects moderators, to choose at least one woman in 2012. Emma, Sammi and Elena know that if thousands of people sign their petition, members of the Commission on Presidential Debates will bend to public pressure.
Here’s a lot more information about Emma, Sammi and Elena’s campaign, in their own words:
This is an exciting time to be a young woman interested in politics. Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin’s presidential and vice presidential campaigns put women in the spotlight in the political realm in 2008, finally providing a way for girls across our nation to envision themselves in these positions of power.
We already know that no women will be on stage at this year’s presidential debates, but what about in the moderator’s chair? We were shocked to find out that it has been 20 years since a woman last moderated a presidential debate.
Moderators are chosen by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is made up of three women out of seventeen commissioners. 20 years is way too long: we’re encouraging the Commission to name at least one woman to moderate one of the three upcoming presidential debates between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.
Presidential debate moderators have a lot power when it comes to helping the American public to better understand candidates. Being a moderator is a tough job; the moderator must keep debate flowing, make sure candidates stay focused on relevant topics, and maintain an unbiased stance.
Men are no more capable of performing these tasks than women — but for the last two decades, only men have been given the job.
Women and men will never be truly equal in our country until they’re one and the same in positions of power and both visible in politics. We need to take immediate action in order to move towards this change. There is no reason why a woman shouldn’t have a chance to show what she’s capable of by moderating debates in the upcoming election.