Inspire a Woman
"You can't be what you can't see." -Marian Wright Edelman
We know that when women run for office they win at the same rates as men. The problem is they don’t run at the same rate. One reason? They aren’t asked to run.
A deeper conversation with daughters
From a very young age, girls are aware that leadership positions are far more often held by men than by women. Today, this shapes their expectations about their own abilities and can dissuade them from pursuing leadership positions. Not tomorrow.
You can help raise expectations by talking with girls about the messages so many young women absorb by the way their ideas are treated, their screens are biased, and their elected offices are populated.
It’s important to have this conversation at several points in a girl’s journey toward young womanhood. Research shows that girls often leave high school with ample ambition to run for office and lead. Then something happens to make them lose that drive in college. The exception is college women who played varsity or junior varsity sports! They are about 25% more likely than their peers to show political aspirations.
How do you get a conversation started with your daughter or another girl you care about?
Start by asking what they know about women getting elected.
You can begin talking about electing women at a fairly young age.Ask a few basic questions, perhaps after watching the news or during an election.
- When you think of electing a President, what do you think this person looks like? Do you imagine a man or a woman?
- Did you know that we've had only male Presidents and no female Presidents? Why do you think that is?
- What will help make more girls feel like they can be President?
- Can you picture yourself running for school or class President? Why or why not?
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.
Encourage a woman to run for office!
Savvy campaign professionals know: the conversation that sparks a woman to run for office often starts in her living room. Until someone asks – or someone listens carefully to a woman’s inclination to get involved – many woman don’t seriously consider themselves political material – much less electable. Women often need to be asked several times before considering more thoughtfully the possibility of holding elected office and making a difference.
So the first thing to do is ask! Be ready to share with the person you ask the wealth of resources available to support her first inkling of interest.
Many organizations help women run for office:
- IGNITE (for young women)
- She Should Run
- Running Start (for young women)
- Republican Women for Progress
- National Women’s Political Caucus
- The Campaign School at Yale University
- EMILY's List
- Off the Sidelines
Put it in writing…
Write a simple letter to encourage a friend or other woman to run for office. Try writing this letter to yourself!
I have been so inspired by your commitment to [issue or cause], and I know you have what it takes to make a difference. I hope you will consider running for [public office] – with your [personal trait], I know you can [discuss goal]. I hope you will decide to run. You have my vote!
People often keep written words and read them again – and again – as they think about what’s said. You might want to encourage a few others to offer their encouragement, too!