This post is going to be short and sweet.
We need more women taking on leadership positions in our communities, especially in our government, where we are severely underrepresented. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, depending on what area of government you look at, women only comprise between 20-25% of elected officials. The problem with that is that women have a unique skill set to offer that has thus far been underappreciated.
A jump into politics can be intimidating, especially for women who are socialized to place less value on their own experience and qualifications. So taking that leap to a new career can be scary. And that’s not even mentioning the intimidation factor of internet trolling and abuse.
But it’s time to step up and share our gifts. Yes, it’s intimidating, but women do intimidating things all the time. We go into meetings and boardrooms where we are severely outnumbered by men. We juggle the needs of our kids, partners, and jobs. We negotiate seemingly impossible tasks, and we naturally do it in a way that attempts to preserve the feelings and dignity of all involved. We’re kind of awesome.
So if you’ve ever even thought about running for office, I strongly encourage you to at least look into it. You’re not going it alone – there are many resources out there to help you.
Some of these resources are national, some specific to my state of Wisconsin. For the state-level resources, please investigate where you live and find out what’s available. And please feel free to share what you find in the comments.
Wisconsin Progress specializes in training progressive candidates who are interested in running for office. I know people who’ve taken this training and speak very highly about the hands-on support and practical advice offered. They already have trainings posted for all over Wisconsin.
Wellstone focuses on progressive causes and trainings. I’m interested in the digital organizer training coming up in June.
Emerge Wisconsin‘s mission is to change “the face of Wisconsin politics by identifying, training and encouraging women to run for office, get elected and to seek higher office.”
She Should Run creates a community that encourages women to run for public office and also offers and online “incubator” that offers guidance for women considering a career in politics.
People tend to think about the national level Democratic Party, but most of the hands on work takes place at the state and local levels. The way it works, you join the Democratic Party at the state level, and then you’re a part of your county level Democratic party. I can only speak to my county level party, but I know that the Democratic Party of Brown County (Wisconsin) is not only willing but enthusiastic about supporting people who want to run for office. They have people available who have run for office before and are happy to help progressives who want to run for office. I highly encourage you – if you are a progressive – to reach out to your county level Dems.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of resources, but I think it’s a good start for most people.
Please remember: Even if your background and skill set doesn’t look like traditional politicians up to this point, that doesn’t mean you are not qualified to run for office. I think there is a case to be made that we’re in a bit of mess that will require some new, innovative ways of thinking to get overcome. We need moms, dads, teachers, laborers, scientists – people from all walks of life – to start taking that next step into civic involvement and participation. Ladies, #youarequalified