How Inviting Women to Run Can Improve Women’s Political Representation

Jarinete Santos | Apr 23, 2020

Some of our greatest leaders, innovators, and sources of societal strength have been women and yet we continually limit their access to elected office where their positive impact is desperately needed. During the COVID-19 crisis their capacity for grounded leadership is on display as the world begins to recognize that when women are in charge they lead with honesty, decisiveness, innovation, and empathy.

Despite the distinctions in leadership style and overall representation that women offer to government, the United States ranks 76th internationally for our representation of women in elected office. In a country with a population in the ballpark of 320 million people, slightly more than half of whom are women, that means we lack representation for half of our people who use healthcare, public transportation, pay property taxes, and show up to vote.

The thing is, when women do run for office they win at the same rates as men. The challenge is that they aren’t running for office in as high of numbers as their male counterparts. The barriers to improving women’s representation run the gamut. Women are more likely to believe they are unqualified to run, they are more likely to experience sexism in the media or be on the negative end of a sexist voter bias, they are more likely to experience harassment and violence, they are systemically connected to home and family obligations, they are underfunded, etc.

The good news is that there are easy things anyone can do to help advocate for and improve women’s representation in elected office. Research shows that when someone receives “external support to run, from both a political and non-political actor, it more than doubles his or her likelihood of considering a candidacy. Women are just as likely as men to respond favorably to the suggestion of a candidacy, but they are less likely than men to receive it.” In fact, men are 15% more likely to be recruited for public office than women. Capitalizing on this positive recruitment response, She Should Run created our Ask a Woman to Run tool so that anyone can nominate a woman in their life to run for office.

Alexandria Knox is a She Should Run Community member currently running for State Representative. When reflecting on the impact of those who asked her to run she shared, “ Those that encouraged me to run made me feel like they valued women’s contributions in political life. They gave me hope and inspired me to continue to find ways to develop leadership.”

While it may seem small, building the skill of inviting women to consider a run for office is a critical step in increasing the number of women running. We feel so strongly about it that we hosted a webinar to help improve people’s understanding and know-how when it comes to making the ask. Check out She Should Run’s How to Ask a Woman to Run webinar and change the face of government by inviting a woman to run today.

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