Women make up over half the population of the United States, but hold just 22% of elected offices. I heard that stat when I attended a recent event put on by Ignite, a nonprofit organization that prepares young women to run for office, and I haven’t been able to forget it.
There are over 500,000 elected offices in this country, including everything from the president and vice president all the way to down to local roles like mayors, city council members, and school board members — and only 22% of them are held by women. I’d love to see women fill half of those roles, but according to Ignite, if we continue electing women at the rate we are now, we won’t reach gender parity for at least another hundred years.
Before the election, I remember thinking how amazing it would be if Hillary Clinton became our next president, because all of the girls growing up in this country would see her as a role model. That’s what gave me the idea for this article. I was sure Clinton would win, and I wanted to show other women and girls how they can get elected, too. Being a Boss Girl isn’t just about running your own company or organization — Boss Girls are capable of taking on political leadership positions, too.
I was heartbroken by the election results, but I’m more convinced than ever that it’s time for a change. We have to start electing more women so that our voices are heard, locally and nationally.
The first step? Encouraging more women to run.
I’m encouraging YOU. If you see things that need to change in your school or community, consider running for office with a campaign based on making those changes. I know, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of, “I don’t have the time,” or “I don’t know enough about politics,” but I hope you’ll keep reading and give it some thought.
Know a few women who are good at taking charge and interested in helping their community? If they’re still in school, urge them to get involved in student government. If they’re adults, urge them to get involved in local politics. She Should Run, a nonpartisan nonprofit that guides women and girls toward public leadership, has a form you can use to ask a friend to consider running for office.
Next: Find out HOW to run.
Even if you’re not sure you’re ready, now is the perfect time to connect with inspiring organizations and explore your options for becoming an elected official.
- “Declare Your Ambition” and get involved with Ignite, which offers webinars, conferences, and other events to help young women build their leadership skills. If you’re in college, consider starting an Ignite chapter on your campus to connect with other young women who are passionate about public service.
- She Should Run offers a free online incubator program for women exploring potential paths to public office. Sign up!
- The Center for American Women in Politics has a clickable map of the U.S. to help you find state-specific campaign training programs and resources.
- Running Start offers day-long “Elect Her” programs on college campuses to train women to run for student government.
- Emily’s List’s Political Opportunity Program gives pro-choice, Democratic women the tools to run winning campaigns.
Visit your local government website for specifics.
If you search the web for the name of your town or county and the words “run for office,” one of the top results will probably have information about specific qualifications, paperwork, filing fees, and all the related deadlines. (In Los Angeles, for example, they have a downloadable handbook for potential candidates.)
When you run for office, you’re not just giving yourself a voice. You’re giving every American woman more of a voice in government, and our voices deserve to be heard.
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