Vote, Run, Lead
BROWN BAG l “We’re on a raunching campaign right now,” said Marie Wilson, president of the White House Project. Wilson, a guest of the Women and Public Policy Program last spring, was at the Kennedy School to talk about “Vote, Run, Lead,” a new nonpartisan initiative by the White House Project designed to get young American women more engaged in the political process, from voting to running for political office.
“How do we change the face of leadership in this country?” she asked at a brown bag talk. “We need to get a critical mass of women into leadership positions, particularly in politics and business.”
The gains that women made in the early 1990s have stopped, she said.
“Women make up about 20 to 22 percent of state legislatures, and we’ve been stuck at that number for a decade,” she said. “Only eight of the Fortune “500” CEOs are women. There are just eight female governors. And the United States ranks 57th in the world in terms of women’s political representation.”
What’s so difficult about changing this problem, she said, is that people don’t think it is a problem anymore. “We’re a country that thinks, in terms of women’s leadership, that we’re moving right along.”
The Vote, Run, Lead project is hoping to again reverse the numbers by sponsoring a leadership training program this fall, through voter registration drives, and through a media awareness campaign targeted at young women.
“We’re trying to make women’s leadership normal,” Wilson said. “Women want to lead. They want to be president. But when women look out there and don’t see anyone like them, they say, ‘someone has to invite me in.’ Men don’t do that. They self-identify themselves.”
As the talk was ending, she urged the audience not to leave the room without thinking of one woman that they could e-mail and ask, “Have you ever thought of running for office?”
For more details, go to www.voterunlead.org.