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Did you know that only 21% of Congress seats are held by women, while in the Senate only 19% of senate seats are occupied by women? With women making up 50% of the U.S. population, they continue to be woefully underrepresented in our governing body.
These numbers do not stop at the national arena.
Of the 100 major U.S. cities, only 20 currently have women as mayors.
Being a leader in your community doesn’t mean you need to run for congress or mayor, but starting on the road to civic leadership can help inspire other women to do the same and hopefully someday help balance the genders in the political arenas.
The non-profit, non-partisan organization She Should Run, has been working towards expanding the talent pool of elected female leaders for nearly ten years. She Should Run hosts an array of initiatives, all driven towards combating the gender disparity frequently seen in leadership roles throughout the nation.
Starting with girls, She Should Run researched where the playing field began to tilt in favor of men, and found that the majority of parents view their daughters as natural leaders and believe that while that is the case, parents feel that girls may need to work harder to enjoy the same level of success as her male peers.
Encouraging girls to follow leadership ambitions are a starting point that will help generations to come. Parents interested in teaching girls how to foster leadership behaviors can sign up for the incubator course for parents. In this course, parents are taught how to talk to and mentor girls through the challenges she may face as a leader.
For adults, Vote With Your Purse is an initiative aimed to change how women approach political giving. She Should Run has found that overall political giving is in correlation to the genders of those represented in Congress.
Researchers have found that women often do not feel that donations matter in terms of showing support for a specific candidate and the issues they champion. Despite this trend, if women voters (regardless of party) were to donate as little as $5 to a female candidate each election, it would be enough to run one female candidate in every house race with a budget of over $1 million.
Outside of the national arena, the most common reason women are not in political office is because they are simply asked to take office at a lower rate than male peers. To challenge this issue, She Should Run has built an easy to use platform to ask a woman to run for office. Each note sent through the She Should Run website shares motivational messages and tools that will empower and enable the women you recommend to step into civic leadership.
Once nominated, or self-nominated, women receive access to the She Should Run Leadership incubator. The incubator is a ten week course built to hold participants accountable and provide a network of support throughout their leadership journey. In just two hours per week, incubator participants will develop a vision statement, learn how to network, fundraise, and take risks that will propel them into leadership roles.
Civic leadership comes in all shapes and sizes. You can start small, joining an HOA board or PTA or step up into a city council or non-profit board role. The first step is always the hardest, but once you’ve begun on the journey to leadership, you can craft a direction that makes sense for your vision for the community and personal ambitions.