By Kathy Groob, Publisher ElectWomen Magazine – The American Association of University Women (AAUW) and Running Start have joined together to increase the numbers of college women in leadership tracks and running for office with the Elect Her – Campus Women Win program. “Fifty-four percent of women in Congress have run for office in college,” said Running Start Executive Director, Jessica Grounds. “If we can give women the campaign experience in college they are more likely to make it practical and feasible to run for office later.”
The Elect Her initiative acknowledges the necessity to build the pipeline of women running for office in order to diminish the long-standing political leadership gender gap. This initiative consists of a full continuum of programming to empower females from high school onward to view themselves as political candidates.
According to data collected by the American Student Government Association from nearly 5,100 institutions, women make up approximately 52 percent of all student government representatives but only 43 percent of student government presidents. Currently, women only hold 17 percent of the seats in the U.S. Congress and 22 percent of the seats in state legislatures. Elect Her aims to close this long-standing political gender gap by empowering and training women to run for elective office at all levels.
“Elect Her will be reaching 30 campuses across the country next year, bringing our training program and encouraging women to run for office at the campus level,” says AAUW Director of Leadership Programs, Kate Farrar. Elect Her is a five hour training program that provides students with research and strategies for women in politics. “Last year we trained over 400 women at 17 campuses,” added Farrar.
“We are focused on giving more college women the valuable experience of running for and serving on college government and student government bodies. What the women experience at a young age will propel them to be engaged in politics,” says Farrar.
College sites were chosen from an application process. For a list of the campus sites, visit: http://www.aauw.org/learn/LeadershipPrograms/electHer.cfm.
“We really have a problem increasing the numbers of women in politics,” says Jessica Grounds. “Young women do not see their place in the political arena so we must encourage women early in life to run. Typically women wait until they are older to run, but younger women bring a unique perspective and have different experiences. We need diversity of perspectives,” added Grounds.
For more information or to participate in an Elect Her program, click here.