Why Mexico May Beat the US in Having a Woman President
The mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, resigned this week in order to run for president. She is already the leading contender, which, if she wins next year, means Mexico would beat the United States in having its first female president. Yet as a trained physicist who says she looks for “root causes” in both science and politics, Ms. Sheinbaum might want to ask this: Why have the overall biases against women in Mexico – among both men and women – increased?
The latest United Nations data shows Mexico is in company with Russia, Chile, South Korea, and Kyrgyzstan in showing the largest decline in attitudes toward gender equality. Violence against women remains high. In particular, bias against Mexican women in politics jumped from 46.61% in 2010–2014 to 58.01% in 2017–2022.
Yet other facts reveal progress for Mexican women. Not only is Ms. Sheinbaum ahead in the polls to become head of Latin America’s second-largest economy, but also nearly a third of governorships in Mexico are held by women – more than in the U.S. (Ms. Sheinbaum became Mexico City’s first female mayor in 2018.)
She cites a survey by the national statistics agency showing that more than two-thirds of Mexicans back a woman becoming president. Last January, the Supreme Court elected its first female chief justice. These triumphs belie the image of a machista (sexist) culture. Just as Mexico shook off one-party rule a generation ago and renewed its democracy, it is now one of the most advanced countries in the participation of women in politics.
In the last 10 years, says Ms. Sheinbaum, being a female politician was a handicap. “Right now it is something positive,” she told The Associated Press. Her record as mayor includes making the city safer for women. Murder rates in general are down in the capital. “It’s time for women,” says a scientist who knows how to look for root causes that can impel progress.