After the Women’s March, Claire Landsbaum wrote an article that talked about how there has been a drastic uptick in the number of women applying to candidate pipeline groups, as a way to prepare themselves to run for office. According to Landsbaum, EMILY’s List had more than 4,000 people reach out and say that they were interested in running for office.
Candidate pipelines, in general, have historically been put in place to prepare up and coming leaders to either run for office or be a campaign manager/staffer. Trainings usually include, but aren’t limited to, the following: fundraising workshops, messaging tips, how to hire campaign staff breakouts, and other value related panels.
Typically, when people think about candidate pipelines EMILY’s List, Emerge, and Wellstone trainings come to mind. However, in recent years, there have been many candidate pipelines popping up nationwide. Take New American Leaders Project for example. They are focused on preparing first and second generation Americans to use their power and potential in elected office because they believe that when our elected officials mirror the makeup of our nation. Additionally, there is Run for Something – a group who recruits and supports millennials, with the ultimate goal of building a progressive bench. And last but not least, She Should Run – which started as a project in 2008 but has dramatically grown and is working to create a culture that inspires women and girls to aspire towards public leadership.
But what does this actually mean and why is it important?
When all around the world participated in the Women’s March because they believe that women’s rights are under attack, in some way. The turnout was great but more women need to run for office and win for things to change.
Lets look at Alabama for starters: according to Center for American Women and Politics, the Alabama General Assembly currently has 16 women serving in the State House and 4 women serving in the State Senate. There are a total of 140 seats and women account for 14.3%. However, that’s not all! Currently there are 1,389 women serving in our State Houses and 441 serving in our State Senate Offices. This means that women only account for 24.8% of seats-holders at the state level!
So what’s the problem?
If there are more women then men in the world (which is probably way half of us can’t find a man but I’ll save that for another day) why are women underrepresented at the state level? That’s a problem!
Another problem is that we aren’t represented well at the federal level either. The Center for American Women and Politics states that women account for only 19.4% of the seats held in Congress. So, either we aren’t running or we aren’t winning, but either way, something has to change!
So what’s next?
Women have to run for office and other women have to support them! This doesn’t mean if she isn’t the right candidate, go out and vote for her, but merely that if she is the right candidate, we have to support her. That means volunteer! That means donate! Some men see women as inferior and will never vote for a woman even if she is good, so ladies, we must have our sisters back!
Additionally, when we get in office, we have to let the ladder down and groom other young women! When I wanted to get into politics, I couldn’t find one female mentor who was willing to let me shadow her, which is unfortunate. If our female electeds don’t prepare the next generation of female leaders, we need to be prepared to see more men moving for the state level and into Congress and while I love men, I would prefer to see girls run the world.