It's Time For Life to Imitate Art: Why We Need More Women to Run for Office
Erin Loos Cutraro is the founder and CEO of She Should Run, an nonprofit organization committed to increasing the number of women in political leadership positions.
The first time a woman appeared as the President of the United States on film was in 1924's The Last Man on Earth. Since then, we have seen women of all ethnicities and political stripes play the roles of politicians. We're all familiar with Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Veep, Alfre Woodard in State of Affairs, and Bellamy Young in Scandal. There's even an animated short film called Betty Boop for President. (Who knew?)
Movies and television have depicted female senators, members of Congress, and governors. So you may be surprised when I tell you that only a third of the actual elected offices in this country are held by women.
Don't get me wrong, we have made great strides since 1924, but there is a long way to go.
That's why, this summer, She Should Run launched 250KBY2030, a campaign to ensure that half of all candidates running for the over 500,000 elected offices in this country are women by 2030.
Why just candidates as opposed to elected officials, you ask? Because we know that when women are on the ballot, they win at the same rate as men. So the key to making our government look more like the population is first getting women to run.
Every woman has something great to contribute. We have life experience, business experience, and, most importantly, human experience that will greatly benefit all of us as part of making smart government policies.
We're not saying that you need to run for office this year or even next year, or that you have to throw your hat in the ring for Congress (not that we'd stop you…), but we ask you to think hard about getting involved. It can be simple.
Do you care about what happens in your children's school? Run for the school board.
Do you think that there need to be bike lanes on your busiest streets? Run for the planning commission.
You don't have the time, you say. You don't have the money, you say. How on earth can one balance school and a job and running for office?
We know it's hard, but women get it done. We figure it out. We push through. Plus, all the challenges that make it harder for us to get involved—holding down jobs, going to school, taking care of parents and kids—will only ease when we have people enacting policies that understand what that feels like.
And you are not alone. There are thousands of women around the country that have expertise and passion to help you.
For me, it was building She Should Run, a nationwide organization that works to create an even playing field for women to run for office.
I bring my best to my work everyday so that all women and girls—including my daughters—know that they can come with the best ideas and be considered on their merits, not their gender.
My contribution is to help other women run for office. If you aren't ready to run, yours can be too.
VIDEO: 11 Famous Women on Female Empowerment
You can still get involved by using the resources you have at your disposal:
- Going for a daily walk around the neighborhood? Use that time to knock on doors for your favorite candidate.
- Know a great woman who should be elected? ASK HER!
- Have a great group of friends that talk about the current state of politics? Invite your favorite candidate over to have coffee and create a plan for how you can build a network to help her.
Still not convinced we need you? Decades of research has shown that our government benefits from the kind of unique perspectives and experiences women bring to the table. Having women as political leaders results in better government, more bipartisan ventures and more civility—something we could really use right now.
Join us, won't you?