If a man has a suit and can put a poster on a pole, people automatically assume he's TD material and vote for him. Women have a harder time. We make up more than half of the population, but less than a quarter of TDs.
We can't keep pretending that we live in a real democracy when more than half of us aren't represented. It's time to vote women into the Dáil. Right across the country, women are running for election in greater numbers than ever before. Female candidates make up around a third of those declared so far, and it's the first ever general election where there is a female candidate contesting in every single constituency.
Sadly, because we've never had a truly representative government, we don't actually know what the country would look like if it was run by women. But, if we'd had equal numbers of women and men in public office since day dot, maybe childcare would be affordable instead of costing €1,000 a month, and women's shelters would have adequate funding.
Yes, the number of women in the Dáil rose after the last general election. In 2016, 35 women were elected - 16 incumbents and 19 new female TDs. This was a 40pc increase on the number of women TDs elected in 2011 and meant that 22pc of Dáil Éireann was made up of women, the highest proportion of women in the history of the State.
But the chamber was still 78pc male and only three women were senior ministers. At this rate of change, it's going to take decades and decades for Irish women to reach any kind of representational parity.
Even in 2020, our own sexist attitudes are holding back female candidates. Study after study shows that women have to demonstrate their qualifications in a way that men don't, that they have to be careful about the way they show their ambition and drive, and that they're still judged on things like "likeability" when men are not. The media still run stories about female candidates that insist on focusing on things like their outfit, haircut or their children, rather than their policy positions and qualifications.
Once inside the chamber, women aren't safe from sexism. Albert Reynolds once responded to heckling from Fine Gael TD Nora Owen with: "Sure that's women for you." Nearly 20 years later, Brian Cowen had to apologise to Labour TD Joan Burton after asking her party leader Eamon Gilmore to "try and rein her in now and again".
These are the more blatant examples but a 2018 study by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) showed that gender-based sexism, harassment and violence against women representatives and parliamentary staff is widespread in parliaments across Europe.
Walking down the street this morning, passing all the election posters, I thought about all of the mediocre men who have been elected to Leinster House over the years and how the most mediocre of all those men got elected because he was born a man (and his dad was probably a TD before him).
Female candidates have to work twice as hard to convince the electorate that they're really as worthy as that man who has coasted along on his male privilege his whole life. They deserve a chance from all of us.
There are people who don't think we should be fighting for gender parity in politics, that voters should just pick a candidate based on the issues that are important to them. That's OK but I think that women, as a gender, see things a little differently.
TDs are at the heart of catalysing change by implementing the policies and reforms necessary to increase women's access to opportunities. Female politicians are more likely to take action on issues like equal pay, gender-based violence and social issues like childcare and education. We need women in the room making decisions about our futures.
We're behind when it comes to many things, whether it's the environment, technology or women in the Cabinet. But nothing changes unless something changes.
If I meet a candidate who seems competent, hard-working and her politics somewhat align with mine, and she's a woman, she is getting my vote next month. Women cannot just be sidelined, arguing for change from our kitchens, we need to be allowed to thrive and fulfil our true potential in the political world too.
Now, it's women's turn.
It's our turn to bring attention to the inequality that exists in today's Ireland. To take a stand for affordable childcare and for equal pay.
To have a government that is properly gender balanced. Besides, at this point, instead of asking why women should be more included in politics, we should ask why men deserve being so massively over-represented.
Your constituency will have a mix of candidates running in the general election - men and women - from the same party or with similar policy positions. You won't even have to hop party lines to vote along gender ones or support a candidate who doesn't align with your values.
So, go out and vote for a woman on February 8 - and another and another and another - right down your ballot paper.