President Obama spoke today at a forum about women shortly after a released report from the White House titled “Keeping America’s Women Moving Forward”.
During his speech President Obama reminded us all that only 3% of Fortune 500 company CEOs are women and less than 20% of seats in Congress are occupied by women.
“Is it possible that Congress would get more done if there were more women in congress? I think it’s fair to say, that is almost guaranteed,” said President Obama.
Why aren’t there more women in Congress? Great organization’s like The White House Project and EMILY’s List work every day to help women run and get elected to public office. While at a summer training institute during my undergraduate career, (NEW Leadership) I learned that the problem isn’t that women aren’t getting elected over men, it’s that women aren’t even running in the first place.
I sat in a room full of 30 other females ages 18-50, and we were all asked point blank, “If you were given the opportunity to run for public office, would you take it?” There were some “yes’s”, a lot of “ehhh mayyyybes” and a couple flat out “no ways”. The maybe’s and the no’s were asked to explain their reasoning. The top 3 responses:
- Politics is dirty.
- I have a family. Being in politics would take precious time away from them.
- He’ll beat me. People don’t think women are as good in politics, and if I run against a man, he’ll win.
I don’t want my family or past being put through that kind of attention.
The first reason is completely understandable, and with today’s 24/7 media/blogosphere, is a major reason that both males and females often opt out from public office.
The second reason is one of the most common reasons women choose not to do a lot of things, most importantly a certain career path such as politics.
However, the third reason I think we CAN change. WOMEN DO win (I’m not saying all the time) but women win ALOT when they run against men. If we can work to increase women’s confidence in running for public office, and help provide them with the tools and means to do so…I think we’d see a big difference in our Congressional makeup…and maybe a big difference in how effective our government is.