Why You Should Run For Office

Here are some grim statistics for mothers, who are raising the next generation (including their observant girls), to consider:


“Women hold only 17 percent of the seats in Congress.”


“State legislatures only have 23 percent women.”


“Only 6 out of 50 states have a female governor.”


“The United States trails behind the rest of the world - ranking 87th in the number of women in our national legislature.”


“. . . [W]omen are 50 percent less likely than men to seriously consider running for office, less likely than men actually run for office, and far less likely to run for higher office.”


Has anyone ever asked you to run for public office? Have you ever worked for or encouraged another female candidate to run for office? I’m not talking about the lofty posts that get all the news coverage like president (where I don’t think there’s been a race that included more than one woman in contention for the top spot despite the fact that female voters outnumber male voters), U.S. Senate or governor. I’m talking about some of the closer-to-home positions such as city council, finance committee or school committee. Have you ever seriously considered throwing your hat into those local rings in order to make your voice heard, to bring a new brand of leadership to the table?


Well maybe you should. Consider this column my request to you: Run.


The nonprofit women’s advocacy group She Should Run -- from which I obtained the statistics at the beginning of this piece - is adamant in saying that if we want to see change in our political culture, if we want our daughters (and our sons) to see women in leadership positions we, their mothers, need to step up.


“Research continues to show the positive influence that women’s unique leadership style has on decision making,” the She Should Run web site says. “It’s proven that women legislate differently - perhaps more effectively - than men. They’re more likely to collaborate and ensure a win-win decision. Also, women tend to run for office because they want to get something done, not for the pure sport of politics.”


This notion was brought into stark relief when I attended a Boston conference for women recently -- attended by over 7,000 -- where the unifying theme was “Live Fearlessly.” I observed a discussion about “How to Impact Change: Real-World Advice” and among the panelists was Jane Swift, the first female governor of Massachusetts and the first U.S. governor to give birth while in office. Her tenure was marred by controversies and unfair, sexist criticism about how she handled her childcare issues, a concern her male predecessors didn’t have.