Advocates for gender equality are reckoning with what one called a "wonderful challenge"—four or more women running for president in 2020, the AP reports. To many activists, that means a field more reflective of a party that counts women as a crucial voting bloc. But the prospect of multiple women in the race also presents obstacles, with no single candidate holding a claim to women's votes to the degree Hillary Clinton did in 2016. The women's vote, and groups that provide financial and grassroots support, could split. Looming over it all is persistent gender bias and the question of whether Americans are ready to elect a female president. "We do realize there's still sexism in this country, and what we're trying to do is change minds," says EMILY's List President Stephanie Schriock, whose group aids the campaigns of Democratic women supporting abortion rights.
In the early days of the Democratic primary, leaders of many advocacy organizations are thrilled that so many women are seeking the presidency, but are not backing any particular candidate. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren last month became the first woman to launch a presidential exploratory effort, joined shortly afterward by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota also are considering running. Among those candidates, Gillibrand is particularly vocal in invoking her gender as a driver of her campaign, while Warren's campaign has emphasized economic inequity. So is gender still a problem for candidates? "Because there are so many women running, it doesn't totally inoculate women from sexism, but it does provide some guardrails," says a gender-equality activist.
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