February 17, 2017
Bustle: How To Help Get More Women Into Government Office, Even If You're Not Running Yourself
By, Mia Mercado
Slowly but surely, the amount of representation of women in government is growing. According to a new survey from the National Conference of State Legislatures, women hold a historic number of seats in state legislature. Just under 25 percent of the legislative body for all 50 states is made up of women. 24.8 percent to be exact. As Broadly points out, though, it's still not nearly enough — but I have good news, too: There are plenty of ways to help get more women in office. If you are also a woman, one of those ways is of course to run yourself; even if you're not interested in holding office, though, there's still a whole lot you can do to help the cause.
While the current number is history-making, it’s not even a half percent increase from last year. (In 2016, women held 24.4 percent of the state legislature.) Many state legislative bodies have a long way to go before women hold the same amount of seats at men. Currently, Nevada is the closest to gender parity with 39.7 percent of their seats being occupied by women (25 of its 63 seats). Wyoming is well below the national average with only 11.1 percent of its state legislature being comprised of women (10 of their 90 seats). You can see how your state holds up in this chart from the National Conference of State Legislature.
Women have also seen an increase in representation in some regard at the federal level. In November, the number of women of color in the U.S. Senate quadrupled. While yes, that number went from one to four, it is still a victory given the amount of racial and gender bias that persists in government. Before we get too ahead of ourselves in celebration, the number of women in the U.S. Congress decreased in the last election. There are currently 104 women in Congress, down from 105 women in 2016.
Female representation matters in government. Because there are laws being passed on women’s health with few to no women in the room. Because women make up about 51 percent of the U.S. population. Because seeing a women hold office can be motivation enough for other women to run.
While all 51 percent of us aren’t necessarily interested in running for office, there are ways we can help the ones who are. Here are seven ways to help get more women in office.
1. Donate to EMILY’s List
Funding is a huge barrier for many people looking to run. The mission of EMILY’s List is to “elect pro-choice Democratic women to office.” Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Duckworth are among some of the women they’ve helped elect to office. You can support EMILY’s list through donation, membership, or getting involved in one of their specific events or initiatives. Their WOMEN VOTE! program focuses on voter turnout, both educating and mobilizing female voters.
2. Find Your Local Women’s Political Caucus
Want to find some politically like-minded ladies in your area? Check out your local chapter of the National Women’s Political Caucus. Their national mission is to train, organize, and support women to become more politically active. Change matters at the local levels, too. Get involved with your city or state’s chapter to find out who’s running when and for what and how you can help.
3. Download ‘See Joan Run’, a free e-book encouraging women to run for office
You can download your copy here. This parody of the classic Dick and Jane book series uses humor to showcase the need for women in government. It’s brought to you by She Should Run, an organization that focuses on getting more women elected to office. They’re a nonprofit that works to inspire women and girls’ aspirations for public leadership. In addition to downloading the e-book, you can support the She Should Run mission by getting involved and donating.
4. Talk About the Accomplishments of Women In Office
Post this video of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s reading Coretta Scott King’s letter she was prevented from sharing in opposition to Jeff Sessions’. Follow Sen. Kamala Harris on Twitter and retweet her when she says something brilliant and badass, which is often. Make your friends rewatch Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s speech at the Women’s March. Women are fighting a huge bias when it comes to media coverage and perception. By talking about these women and the strides they’ve made, you’re helping fight that bias.
5. Follow #ILookLikeAPolitician
This initiative by Running Start recognizes the importance of seeing people who look like you hold positions of power. The #ILookLikeAPolitican program empowers women to be the role model they wish to see in office. If you want to be in your feelings today, check out this speech from Jessica Gottsleben, the program’s 2016 ambassador.
6. Share Stats On Why We Need More Women In Leadership
If you need some statistical arsenal on why more women in government is good for everyone, here are a few:
- In Sweden, 52 percent of the ministry are women. The equality in the workforce is noticeable beyond the government level, as they have among the highest female employment in the EU as well as 16 months of paid parental leave for men and women (13 of those months being paid at 80 percent of their income)
- This study by the University of Virginia found women to be more effective at reaching across party lines than their male counterparts.
- It’s profitable. Here’s a report that found companies performed better when more women served on their board.
7. Encourage More Women To Run
You can get more women in office by getting more women to run in the first place. Know a lady in your life who you’d vote for? Ask her to run for office. The organizations listed above (EMILY’s List, She Should Run, and Running Start) are thorough resources for women looking to seek office.