Talking About 50/50 Representation
Whether or not you consider yourself a political animal, your ideas about elected leadership can be shaped by the people around you. That’s why you, too, can be a vehicle for change simply by having thoughtful conversations with others about the importance of 50/50 representation.
So, let’s talk about it!
Getting the conversation started with kids:
Children absorb a lot of information about elected leaders – at home, on TV, online, through friends. You can help kids in your life see women as a normal part of those groups of people that everybody talks about who make big decisions and shape our future. You can even help shape their decisions about seeing themselves as future leaders!
Start by asking what they know about it.
Talking to kids about 50/50 is easy! Don’t know where to begin? Try starting a conversation like this:
Show them a picture of the current Congress (such as the one below). As they look it over, ask a few questions to get them thinking about men and women working together to represent them.
- How do you think men and women work together to make laws and help run the country? What do they do?
- How might that change if the picture becomes half men and half women? Is anything different about how they work together or what kind of laws they make?
- What do you want them to do for you? What do you think a man will help you with that a woman might not think about? How about what a woman will help you with that a man might not think of? Why?
Ask your daughter or another girl if she can imagine running for office someday.
Maybe she’ll feel happy you think of her that way. Fostering leadership in girls builds confidence and sets them up for success. It also builds a future pipeline of women officeholders!
Show her a picture of women elected officials and ask a few questions.
- What kind of an elected job can you see yourself doing?
- What would you like to accomplish?
- What do you want people to know about you and why you’re good for the job?
A number of excellent resources are readily available to continue the conversation, including these:
Parents’ Course/She Should Run
“Leading Today” is a three-lesson guide that fosters leadership in young girls. Course activities are designed for girls aged five to nine, while course readings are relevant for girls of all ages.
- Lessons include activities, readings, and tips for conversation, organized around goals: sparking girls' interest and curiosity in politics and public service; confidence building; and fostering and encouraging leadership.
- Toolkit includes conversation guides for talking to preteens about two topics: women as political leaders and dissecting social issues. The Toolkit also provides activities, like watching a debate and volunteering in the community.
- Toolkit includes conversation guides for talking to teenaged girls about two topics: women as political leaders and dissecting social issues. The Toolkit also provides activities, including watching a film about women in politics and volunteering for a candidate.
Talking about 50/50 representation with friends and family:
Ask people in your day-to-day life how they feel about 50/50 representation. Many people will say they want the best person for the job. Fair enough. Studies show that women have prized leadership qualities, especially for a fast changing world. When women are in the majority in state legislatures, more bills get enacted – by women and by men. Polls show people favor women problem solvers slightly over men in governor’s races. So why aren’t women the best person for the job of elected office more often? Get people in your life talking by digging a little deeper around the dinner table or with your circle of friends.
- What if Congress was half women and half men – just roughly. What kind of issues might make it to the table that aren’t there now? What kinds of things do you think women would tackle that men might not? How might your life change if they did?
- What evidence do you see of qualities that women bring to the table that are missing from our political dialogue?
- What are issues where it’s harder for women to understand the perspective of men – and vice versa?
- When you look at our elected officials, locally, at the state level, or in national offices, do you see yourself or the women you love fully represented in each?
Want to take further action? Take the 50/50 Pledge and share it with your friends and family!