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Encouraging Women to Run for Public Office

women in public office

Has this election got you thinking about how you might do things differently? How you might be able to represent a certain population and/or make change in your community? Have you ever thought about running for a public office? While it may be too late to run for office right now, it is never too early to start planning. State and local offices—which are usually part-time, paid positions—can shape everything from health services and education to criminal justice.

Not sure what position you’d like to run for? Start with your city, county or state’s election website. There, you’ll find information about roles, campaign rules and requirements for holding office. Also, be sure to double check residency, age and other requirements for any role you’re considering.

Even though women are earning 60 percent of the higher education degrees, they are still less likely than men to run for elected office. Elected female officials make up less than 20 percent of congressional representatives and 25 percent of our state legislative representatives. Additionally, only six women currently serve as governors and only 39 women have ever served as governors.

Luckily, there is a promising push to close the political ambition gap between men and women. For instance, across the U.S., new organizations are emerging and encouraging young women to run for office. Look for a local or national organization that will give you the support and resources you need to start your campaign. A few organizations to look into are: 

women and politics

Get Involved

First and foremost, get involved! So many women say they might run for office someday, but young women who see their pathway as a journey towards elected office are more likely to run for office. So, don’t wait. You may want to start participating in local meetings to prepare yourself for serving in a local office. Choose a function in the campaign that you prefer and start volunteering for that role. In conclusion, get started now!

Be Informed

Getting involved helps you get informed. You should also study structures and processes, follow political issues, and consume current political discussions from diverse sources.

Obtaining information and knowledge in these areas will not only make you a better candidate and a better politician. It will increase your ability to get involved, therefore, you’ll know more about the opportunities available to you.

Organize

Attend or organize your own political party meetings. Local party chapters are often looking for leaders who want to organize events that will help them recruit volunteers and supporters.

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Be Socially Savvy

One of the most well known and yet still helpful pieces of advice for someone interested in running for office is to be socially savvy. Think about how you are coming across to others in person or on the Internet. With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to be conscious and careful about what you post on social media platforms.

Networking

Go to events. Introduce yourself. Ask questions. Afterwards, don’t forget to follow up with people! Networking is the pathway to all sorts of opportunities. It is one of the single most important parts of any career path. Get yourself out there.

Internships & Mentorship

Be ambitious. Send emails to local, state, or federal representatives. Also, don’t forget to ask about volunteer opportunities, internships or mentorships.

Be Nice

Many of the politicos and politicians emphasize the importance of being polite. Listening to other people’s points of view and responding to people will make you stand out and show your true interest. “Friends will come and go, but enemies will accumulate. So be nice.”

This article originally appeared in our Spring 2018 issue and has been modified as needed.

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