There’s considerable talk about how Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton among women in New Hampshire.
According to Bloomberg:
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll of likely Democratic primary voters released Thursday showed Sanders winning 50 percent of women and 61 percent of those earning $50,000 or less.
[Andrew] Smith, [director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center] said the gender gap is particularly noticeable by age, with women 35 and younger backing Sanders and women older than 65 more inclined to support Clinton. That’s attributable in part to generational differences and Sanders’s overall appeal to younger voters.
There’s a reason for that. Women who are 65 years of age or older grew up in a very different time. It was a time in which young women would go to see her guidance counselor and be flat out told, women can be elementary teachers or nurses. Forget about that doctor or lawyer thing. Back in 1970, only 11% of students enrolled at US veterinary colleges were women. (Source: American Veterinary Medical Association)
Times change. By 1987, women were the majority of students, and in 2009, 77.6% of students at US veterinary colleges were women.
The AMVA data also showed that, in 2006, graduate programs for psychology, pharmacy, biological sciences, and social scientists were also majority female. Medical school was about 50/50, or 49-51 to be exact.
I am not arguing that we have reached gender equity, or any kind of gender-based nirvana, but voters under 35 graduated from high school, attended college, and entered the job market in a vastly different world than women who are now 65 and over. The glass ceiling argument resonates with older women, with younger women, not so much.
This is even more profound in New Hampshire than anywhere else. In 2008, the New Hampshire Senate became the first US legislative body to have a female majority (13-11). In 2012, the voters of New Hampshire elected a female governor, two female members of the US House of Representatives, while the two US Senators were women.
It’s not gender that is a barrier for young women looking to go to college and have a career. The barrier is now the high cost of college. Student loan debt, often six figures, can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. Interest rates are high, can’t be consolidated more than once, and can’t be refinanced. At a time when the Federal Reserve set interest rates near zero, an 8% interest rate for federally guaranteed student loans is not uncommon. The federal government profits from student loans, while tax cuts are directed at millionaires and billionaires.
Young women can now get into college and graduate school. They just can’t pay for it.
That’s why Bernie’s message is resonating, not Hillary’s.