Quick question: How many women serve as a mayor, council member or county commissioner in the six major governmental bodies in Colbert and Lauderdale counties?
Go ahead, take your time.
OK. I just finished listening to Led Zeppelin's 1971 hit "Stairway to Heaven" — all 8 minutes and 2 seconds of it.
Give up? The answer is two: Sheffield Councilwoman Mary Stevens and Tuscumbia Councilwoman Martha Smith.
That's it — none in Florence or Muscle Shoals and no county commissioners.
Women have previously served in those six governments, many of whom did quite well. But today, you've got to look hard to find a woman in government. The same is true when you search for anyone younger than 40, but that's a story for another time.
The limited number of women in government is puzzling, especially when you consider women represent more than half of our population. Taking nothing away from the ability of men to lead a government, but isn't it logical to assume women would be represented more in these positions?
Different perspectives in government is a good thing. Government seems to work better when we throw ideas on the table, take the best ones and make them better.
The first thing you notice in this debate is that few women ran for local offices last year. Surely, that doesn't mean we still live by the old attitude that "politics is a man's thing. You shouldn't worry your pretty, little self about such things." This is not the 1950s.
Perhaps women just don't care about the direction local government is headed, or they may be so wrapped up in being a mother, wife, professional and housekeeper that they don't have time. Again, those thoughts should have gone away decades ago.
Maybe the women who are elected get tired of being talked down to and frowned on because they do things differently and have a different thought process. They're made to feel inferior by their male counterparts. If true, shame on the men in charge.
Our area seems to be behind in this arena, even when compared to other parts of Alabama and the country. Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton and dozens of other high-profile women have been political forces.
Why not local women? There's not a local government that doesn't need new ideas and vision.
I don't have the answers, but perhaps having a viable League of Women Voters organization would be a start. It's also important to find women candidates who want to make a positive difference, not a name for themselves. Like all politicians, they have to check the ego at the front door.
People smarter than me should bounce ideas around and find a solution. Involve women and my guess is there will be good ideas coming from that discussion.