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Women in politics: Is there a double standard?

Q. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's nomination for vice president has stirred debate about female politicians, and how they are portrayed. Is there a double standard?

Dane Keil, 16, home-schooled, Charlotte: Since being announced as John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin has been harassed by the media for running for vice president after recently having a child with Down syndrome and for being a working mother. Also, their criticism of her daughter's pregnancy is unfair and mean spirited. These criticisms are not limited solely to Palin. Hillary Clinton also faced harsh criticism during her campaign while Barack Obama did not receive nearly as much. This demeaning of female candidates would lead one to believe that there is a prejudice against women in the media, which is deplorable and needs immediate change.

Sam Sergi, 14, Providence Day School, Charlotte:Women politicians are definitely not treated the same. I think the common judgment is that they do not have the time to be a politician with kids. I thought the treatment of Hillary Clinton was equal to other politicians. I think Sarah Palin is getting more attention . But, there are many variables: her lack of experience, her five children, and her 17-year-old pregnant daughter. We are all trying to understand her role as a politician and as a mother. This is not unfair treatment. This is a new role for women so we have to know that she is completely capable of running our country.

Miriam Smallman, 14, American Hebrew Academy, Greensboro: This is a touchy subject for a lot of people: I myself am a staunch supporter of women in politics. About women politicians being wives and mothers, wouldn't that only add to their capability about making decisions about America's youth, such as on education? Although Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton are different people with different opinions, they do have one thing in common: They are iconoclasts to the sexist population here in America. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, brace yourself: Here come the women!

Daniel Villanova, 17, Watauga High, Boone: There is a double standard of what is considered appropriate conduct for male or female candidates. Men aren't supposed to engage in actions that elicit emotion, but women may create that emotional connection with their voter base. The mix of responses after Sen. Clinton cried publicly exposed how much she cares and how weak she was; the mix was justifiable. Gov. Palin's appearance with her baby was clearly as political as Sen. Clinton's crying. Female candidates should be treated with the same scrutiny as male candidates. But there is clearly a tolerance zone for women regarding emotional pandering.

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