Poet Alice Walker once said to me, “The world is really hungering for women of power,” and I think that is especially true right now. Since election day, 30,000 women have signed up to run for office according to Emily’s List. And that’s exactly what we need because in the political sphere, we are still far from achieving parity: women make up 19.8% of Congress, 22% of the Senate, and only 6 out of 50 governors are women.
As women who are seeking to make positive change in this world, I think we all need to ask ourselves one very important question: Would I consider running for office?
In conducting interviews for my book What Will It Take to Make a Woman President? Conversations About Women, Leadership & Power, I discovered two key things about women running for office. 1: Women often don’t see themselves as qualified (even though they are). 2: Women often need to be asked to run. So consider this an official invitation to see running for office as a real possibility for yourself someday and to believe in your abilities and all you have to contribute. And even if you determine that running for office isn’t the right path for you, you can actively support other female candidates who represent values and policies you believe in by supporting their campaigns and voting.
If you’ve ever considered running for any kind of elected office, or even if you haven’t, these remarkable women are here to tell you why you should go for it.
Inspiration: Why You Should Consider Running for Office
“I really think women should be much more excited about a career in elective office. It’s a tough business, yes, but most are, and there is an incredible upside. You have a real chance to see and touch things you’ve been able to change that have made a positive impact on people’s lives. I just don’t know that it gets any better than that. And it is achievable. I really hope that women aspire to holding elective office. Our country really needs it.”
U.S. Senator, Missouri
“Every time that women have made progress, typically it’s because some woman stepped up and stood up and said, “You know what? This has to change.” Because the progress we’ve seen in our lifetime happened because of women who dared, women of courage—women like Olympia Snowe and Pat Schroeder and others. Because they spoke up and we got Title IX, because they spoke up and they were able to change the Family Medical Leave Act, they were able to make advancements on so many other fronts, like assuring that women had access to credit cards. So it’s important that women continue to see that when women run, they make a difference in our lives.”
Political Strategist, Author, Columnist
“For someone who’s thinking about running for office, this is what I would say: ’Do it. Run.’ These campaigns, they are tough business, but they’re not impossible. And the good, I swear, outweighs the bad. You meet the most amazing people on the campaign trail, you get support from people that you didn’t even imagine. And when you get there, the truth is you really do make so much difference for so many people, every day—whether you’re in Congress, in the Senate, in the state house, or in the city council—every day you make a difference for somebody, and that’s a pretty important piece of what our democracy is about. It’s well worth it to take it on.”
President of Emily’s List
“Be yourself, know your power, and have confidence in what you have to contribute.”
First Female Speaker of the House of Representatives
If you are considering running for office, there are many organizations, trainings and programs to support you. Visit the Resources section of the What Will It Take website to be connected to these groups that promote and advance women’s political leadership.
Articles & Interviews
Find out more about the dramatic increase in women running for office in this CNN article I was interviewed for: More women are signing up to run for office, but will they succeed?