By Sierra Rothermich
Think of a woman you look up to…
Think of a woman who has inspired you…
Think of a woman who has impacted your life…
Should she run for office?
SheShouldRun, a national organization that aims to expand the number of women in office, wants us to ask ourselves that question. Sofia Pereira, Community Manager for SheShouldRun, said Women already contribute to our communities in so many ways–whether you’re a scientist, a stay at home mom, a non-profit leader or an entrepreneur. Yet, out of the over half a million elected offices that exist in America, women make up less than a third.
By 2030, SheShouldRun aims to fulfill their goal of having 250 thousand women running for office. However, to accomplish that goal, as women we must be ambitious and act. This means we need to express our strength, determination, and passion to inspire women now and into the future. Inspiring others requires using our thoughts, ideas, and values to create a legacy of equal representation.
Do you want to see equal representation in your lifetime?
Thinking about this, I reflect on my grandfather, Warren Rothermich, who grew up in a time of segregation. He never got the chance to see an African American become president. I wonder if he ever would have expected that one day his granddaughter would see the inauguration of the first African American to become president–Barack Obama. Although my grandfather never got to see this monumental movement towards increasing equal representation, he contributed to the future by expressing his ideas of the value of equality. It would be heartbreaking for this to be the same fate for anyone growing up in a time of gender inequality, including myself. Therefore, if we want to see equal representation in our lifetime, we must work hard towards achieving it.
American history was made when the first woman in Congress took office.
Jeannette Rankin said, “I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I won’t be the last.”
Although she was right, women still remain underrepresented in government. According to data in 2017 from the Pew Research Center, 21 percent of women make up the U.S. senate, 19.1 percent of women make up the House of Representatives, but 51.4 percent of women make up the U.S. population. Organizations like SheShouldRun are vital to eliminating this gap. Pereira said, SheShouldRun started in 2011, to focus on nominating women in our communities for office, because there is power in showing the confidence you have in someone.
To change the face of government and help women see they can take their talents and skill sets into the political arena, SheShouldRun created “the Incubator.” “The Incubator” is an online resource that offers leadership development, a supportive community, mentors, and guidance to women who want to become political leaders. Pereira said, It started in 2016 and our goal was to have about 400 women in it. Pereira said, then the 2016 election happened and the first week after we had 22 hundred women join our community.
Pereira said, to help our “250k by 2030” campaign, SheShouldRun launched “Pinpoint,” an interactive crowdsourcing tool to help women find campaign and development resources in their own backyard. Pereira said, It’s all about democratizing information and creating the community it takes to support women, so we can get us to a place where we have diverse representation and more voices at the decision making table.
Even if you aren’t personally interested in running for office, it’s imperative that you support and encourage the women that are. Any skills you have to offer, whether it’s digital marketing, web design, public speaking or communications, can help launch women’s political careers and create a more representative democracy.
Our support can help women combat the obstacles they face throughout their campaigns and positions in office. Pereira said she remembers a challenge in her career when she prepared organized notes for a debate and a man made a comment to her about her preparation being a “little much.” Pereira recalls, “I felt so embarrassed but in the 2016 debate when Hillary Clinton was called out for being over prepared, she had a great response. Clinton said “Yes, I’m prepared to take the office that I’m running for.”
Pereira said, “I wish I had that in my mind when I was being shamed for being prepared to take on the job I wanted.”
Paulette Jordan, who served on the Idaho House of Representatives, said she remembers an obstacle she endured during her campaign when a gentleman looked at her card and told her she “looked more like a beauty queen then someone who should be running for office.” Jordan said, “Then he looked at my resume and realized I was far too qualified. I don’t know if it was a compliment or a slap in the face.”
Women, like Peirera and Jordan, must combat issues of being objectified and doubted, to pave the way for success. However, tackling these issues is much easier when you have a national community of women there for support. Sharing these stories and ideas will inspire women across the nation to get involved and push the boundaries of political social norms. The more action we take, the greater chance we have at not only making history, but paving the way for the future.
Do you want an equally representative democracy to transcend to the future generations? To do so, we must not only spread this idea to those around us, but to those in the future. As a writer, (so yes, I might be biased), I truly believe writing is one of the only ways to communicate powerful ideas to people of the future…
Because writing about ideas, such as equal representation, is a way to make it immortal. Sounds crazy, right? But according to Neil de Grasse Tyson, “Writing gives us the power to reach across the millennia and speak inside the heads of the living…With every reader your ideas live again.”
Tyson said, “500 thousand years ago humans discovered by learning how to write, death could no longer silence us.”
This impacts our lives, thanks to the woman who first signed her name to her work–an Akkadian princess named Enheduanna. Like Enheduanna, we can use writing to achieve immortality by pioneering for equal representation. As Tyson points out, “She’s the first person for whom we can say we know who she was and what she dreamed — She sent her thoughts across more than 4 thousand years to you.”
Although I dream of seeing equal representation in my lifetime, I dream even more of transferring the value of equal representation to the minds of the future. I dream that equal representation becomes immortal and that the ideas I’m communicating in my writing live inside the heads of future generations.
In conclusion, to accomplish these dreams, let’s start by taking one simple action:
Think of a woman who can spread the value of equality to the people now and the people in the future.
Should she run for office?
Encourage her to run!