The AAUW Footsteps Project: Elect HER!
"Because Equity is Still an Issue."
For more information: AAUW Fact Sheets and Position Papers on Affirmative Action, Athletics, Education, Managed Care Reform, Reproductive Rights, and Social Security Reform.
'Elect Her' panel on The Campbell Conversations - Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher speaks with Syracuse University senior Alexandra Curtis, a particpant in the Elect Her initiative, and Kathleen Gore with the American Association of University Women, a sponsor of Elect Her. (May 18, 2014)
Updated: January 24, 2015
- The gender gap in political ambition starts at an amazingly young age - When women run, they tend to do about as well as men. But they aren't as likely as men to want to run in the first place. Now, new research by Richard Fox and Jennifer Lawless, two scholars of gender and political ambition, shows that the gap in political ambition emerges very early, even by age 18.
- The new Congress is 80 percent white, 80 percent male and 92 percent Christian - The group that Pew finds most underrepresented on the Hill is those without a religious affiliation -- comprising 20 percent of the public and 0.2 percent of Congress. Congress is nearly as unrepresentative on race and gender. More than half of the population is female; white non-Hispanics are about 63 percent of the population.
- 7 Strategies for Stepping Up Our Political Women - Forget the downbeat aftermath of the midterms. Today's climate is ideal for expanding women's leadership. America's millennial women will soon be among the largest political leadership blocs and we should engage them now.
- West Virginia's Saira Blair is learning to balance college life, state politics - "I have to write those thank-you letters." The letters are to her supporters, some of the 18,000 West Virginians Saira will be representing in the 59th District - a mostly rural, mostly Republican region two hours from Washington. She won the election in November by beating her opponent, a 44-year-old attorney, with 63 percent of the vote, and since then she has become the most famous state legislator in the country, as well as in her house.
- Less than a quarter of state legislators are women - Although the newly elected 114th Congress is the first to have at least 100 women, local legislatures and governments haven't seen the same kind of progress in recent decades. Women are the majority of the population in 39 states, but make up less than one-fourth of state legislatures in most states. Including here in NYS, where women make up 21.12% of the legislature, but 53% of the population. Women make up an even smaller share of mayoral posts; only about 18.4 percent of mayors in cities.
- Votes for Women 2020 President Susan Zimet on WAMC's 51% - Susan Zimet, founder of Votes for Women 2020 appeared on WAMC's 51% this week, reading an essay she wrote on the arrest and conviction of Susan B. Anthony for voting. Susan relates this to the importance of young women exercising their hard earned right to vote. Susan's segment begins at about 16:25.
- Getting Women to Run - The American Student Government Association estimates that about 40 percent of colleges, including community colleges, have female student body presidents. That share would be lower if community colleges were not included, though no precise data seems to exist. Out of the top 100 institutions ranked this year by U.S. News and World Report, about one-third have female student body presidents or other top executives. At the same time, the number of women going to and graduating from college outpaces the number of men.ould be much more progress in closing the gender gap.
- Women haven't gained much representation in state legislatures since the 1990s - Women are better represented in state legislatures today than they were in the 1970s, but there's been very little progress in gender parity since the late 1990s. This map, compiled for Mic by David Mendoza using Center for American Women and Politics data, shows the stubborn trends. As Vox's Ezra Klein wrote in 2008 for the American Prospect, women tend to do about as well as men when they actually run. But women, due to a host of reasons, are less likely to hit the campaign trail. If women were better encouraged by society as a whole to run for office, there could be much more progress in closing the gender gap.
- Taking most of the places at the table: White men are 31 percent of the American population. They hold 65 percent of all elected offices.
- Women's Voices Lacking on School Boards - Despite having relatively strong representation on school boards, women serving on those panels tend to yield to their male counterparts on policy decisions, according to a new book.
- 10 Reasons Young Women Absolutely Need to Vote in the Midterms - Young people are the most diverse generation of Americans ever, but Congress isn't reflective of that diversity. White men only make up 32 percent of the U.S. population, but they make up 79 percent of the Senate and 75 percent of the House. Meanwhile, women make up more than 50 percent of the population but only 17 percent of Congress.
- Massachusetts, Rhode Island Democrats nominate women for governor - Democrats in Massachusetts and Rhode Island picked female candidates to represent their party in November gubernatorial elections, setting the stage for either state to possibly elect its first woman governor.
- The major parties in eight states haven't had a woman nominee for governor since 1970 (and probably ever) - The eight states without a female major-party nominee since at least 1970 are: Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Tennessee and Utah. (Ohio has had an acting female governor, but not a candidate. Former Utah Gov. Olene Walker (R) took office through succession and was therefore never nominated to run.) All told, 24 states, including Wisconsin, have never had a female governor, according to the center.
- Campaign Ad Spending Rises as Obstacle to Women - "Finances are a tremendous hurdle for female candidates because they cannot fund their own campaigns and often lack contacts in the business community that can jump start their campaigns to introduce the candidates to millions of voters across the states," said Kelly Dittmar, a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., in a phone interview.
- AAUW Blog: These 5 College Students Are Proof that Women Win Elections - At AAUW's campus training, Elect Her-Campus Women Win, we see hundreds of college women find their leadership potential and start their political careers by running for student government. In 2014, 78 percent of students who took the training and then reported running for student office won their elections. Even better, many participants told us they were inspired to continue moving up the leadership pipeline.
- It'll Be Over 100 Years Before Congress is Half Women, Study Finds - Mark your calendars for 2121: that's the year when women may finally achieve equal representation in the United States' leading legislative body, according to a new study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research. The think tank estimated in its May report that it would take over a century before women made up 50 percent of Congress (they currently make up 20 percent).
- Here's why 2014 won't likely be the 'year of the woman governor' - The 2014 mid-terms are shaping up to be a status quo year as far as the rank of women governors. Sexism is only part of the story. Currently, there are five women governors, including four Republicans: Jan Brewer (Arizona), Susana Martinez (New Mexico), Mary Fallin (Oklahoma) and Nikki Haley (South Carolina). Maggie Hassan, of New Hampshire, is the lone Democratic woman serving as governor. With the exception of Brewer, all four are running for re-election and current polls suggest that all of them stand a good chance of winning. Which means that in November of 2014 there will at least be four women with the big statehouse desk. The all time high is nine in 2004 and 2007, proving that if there is in fact a women's political wave, it has yet to reach the gubernatorial level.
- Women are winning Senate primaries this year - but not many of them are running - Nationwide, women make up 24 percent of state legislatures. It's higher in some states, such as Colorado, where 41 percent of the legislature features female members. In some states -- like South Carolina, where women make up 13 percent of the legislature -- they are far lower. Only five of the nation's 50 governors are women. In the nation's 100 largest cities, there are only 12 female mayors. Eighteen percent of cities that have populations over 30,000 have female mayors.
- Female Candidates Boost Dems Hopes in Tough Year - President Barack Obama's unpopularity is a drag on his fellow Democrats, and no one is talking seriously about breaking the GOP lock on the House in midterm elections, when the president's party traditionally loses seats. Sixty-three of the 199 Democrats in the House are women, compared with just 19 of the 233 Republicans. Democrats have recruited 102 women to run for open seats and challenge incumbents this election, compared with 66 Republicans, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
- More women's voices needed in Albany - A more level financial playing field would help encourage much-needed new faces, both male and female, to seek office in Albany.
- In the News: Winning Women Candidates, Know These 5 Truths - Across the country filing deadlines are passing and political campaigns are underway. With women at such a deficit in every state legislature (24 percent) and in Congress (18 percent), we need good women candidates running their best races. Winning candidates focus on what they can do for the people they hope to represent.
- How they do that signals the kind of leader they will be. Some questions for candidates:
- What will you do to lighten their load? (Purposeful)
- How will you make government solutions work for everyone? (Knowledgeable)
- What are the specific, realistic changes you can make? (Practical)
- What have you done before that demonstrates you can do this now? (Accomplished)
- What can you share that communicates: "I am like you. I am for you?" (Connected)
- Will voters always be proud that they chose you? (Honorable)
- In the News: NY ranks 33rd for women holding state office - The National Conference of State Legislatures released a database earlier this month that tracks the presence of women in state legislatures. The national average is 24 percent, Gannett's Ashley Hupfl reports. The NCSL reports the New York Legislature, which has 213 seats, has 34 women holding seats in the Assembly and 11 women in the Senate this year. That's 21 percent, even though women in New York make up nearly 52 percent of the population.
- AAUW Blog: 3 Reasons Young Women Should Run for Office
- In the News: Gender Pay Gap Tracks With Number of Women in State Legislatures - In those states where the pay gap is widest - Wyoming, Louisiana, West Virginia, Utah and Alabama - women occupy an average of 15 percent of seats in the legislature. In places where it is narrowest - the District, Nevada, Maryland, Vermont, New York - they represent 30 percent of the legislature.
- In the News: California's 'Close The Gap' Tour Is Demanding Gender Equality In Politics - The California state legislature has 120 members with 32 seats held by women, around 27 percent, down from 30 percent a decade ago. Close the Gap CA was founded to counter these losses and is conducting a four-city "Stop the Slide" tour during March to coincide with Women's History Month. Women's rights activists and elected officials will be speaking about the "slide" in female representation and encourage women to run for office.
- In the News: Mayor Stephanie Miner to Serve as Keynote Speaker for Elect Her - Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner will serve as the keynote speaker for the Elect Her event at Syracuse University on Saturday, April 5. The event is sponsored by the Student Association.
- In the News: America Ranks 98th in the World? The Shocking Dismal Number of Women in Elected Office - Why does the U.S. still have such low numbers compared with the rest of the world?
- In the News: Pols: NY public campaign financing vital to women - More than 160 women who are elected officials or hold other leadership posts have written to New York's top elected officials, all men, urging them to enact public campaign financing.
- In the News: EMILY's List Spotlights Impact of Female Lawmakers With New Initiative - The new initiative, called the Impact Project, will further such efforts by tapping the group's three million members via social media and a series of events in Washington, D.C. EMILY's List President Stephanie Schriock said, "Women in Congress lead on all sorts of initiatives and issues, not just women's issues."
- In the News: 13 Female House Challengers Carry the GOP Banner - They have starring roles in their party's expansion strategy for both the House and the GOP's own female ranks. Like male counterparts, they are focused on repealing the Affordable Care Act, rolling back gun control and lowering taxes. Two are in NYS.
- In the News: Old Democratic Name (Nunn) Stakes Bid on Shifting Georgia - Michelle Nunn, the daughter of a former senator, is running for the Senate, testing whether the state's shifting demographics can send a Democrat to Washington.
- In the News: Women of Color Behind the Rise of Female Democrats - Democratic women have gained legislative seats at a much higher rate than Republican women in recent years. To a great extent, the rise of female Democrats is about the rise of Democratic women of color. Although they do not hold office in proportion to their presence in the U.S. population, minority women have advanced in state legislatures.
- In the News: GOP PAC targets young women voters - This week conservatives launched a new political action committee – RightNOW – to encourage conservative women to run for political office.
- In the News: Super PAC Boom Marginalizes Women, Report Says - This week, a new report found that super PACs and other unrestricted political funding groups further marginalize female campaign donors, who continue to be underrepresented and outnumbered by their male counterparts.
- In the News: Report: Less Than One in Four State Legislators are Women - Just under one-fourth of all state legislators are women, a statistic that has not changed in the past five years, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures report, the Washington Post's "GovBeat" reports. According to the report, there are 1,783 female state lawmakers, compared with 5,600 men. States with the highest proportion of female lawmakers include Vermont and Colorado, where women make up 41% of each legislature, and Arizona and Minnesota, where women make up 36% and 34% of the legislatures, respectively. NY stands at 22%.
- In the News: Bipartisan group releases plan to fix Voting Rights Act - The bill reinstates oversight lost when the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the decades-old Voting Rights Act in June. In that ruling, the court found that the formula used to identify states whose voting laws still needed to be watched over for fear of discriminatory practices was outdated. In its ruling, the court did not strike down the right of the federal government to oversee changes to local voting laws; it merely struck down the rubric being used. The bill offers new guidelines for which states qualify and was proposed by Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) along with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
- In the News: Women are wielding notable influence in Congress - After decades of trying to amass power, several women have vaulted to the top of influential congressional committees, putting them in charge of some of the most consequential legislation being considered on Capitol Hill. “It’s not surprising that every time I’ve passed a piece of legislation, I’ve had a strong Republican woman helping me across the aisle,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said in a recent interview. “Women are often very good at finding common ground and building bipartisan support.”
- In the News: Wendy Davis, Leticia Van De Putte Aim to Make History in 2014 - In 2014 two Texas Democrats are going for a new kind of history: Winning as an all-female ticket for governor and lieutenant governor.
- In the News: As Fund-Raisers in Congress, Women Break the Cash Ceiling - For decades, female candidates lagged behind their male counterparts in fund-raising, largely because donors, most of them men, did not have faith in their ability to win. Women - the go-to donors for female office seekers - were historically more interested in giving to causes than to candidates. But over the last decade, women running for Congress have raised on average more than their male counterparts, and substantially more in the Senate in election cycles when prominent women like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Elizabeth Warren were in the game.
- In the News: Daughters of Famous Politicians Create Media Brands - But a recent crop of political daughters seems at ease with the name-tagging. Emboldened by social media, they're using their lineage - and the Internet - to parlay daughter-of status into media fame.
- Why We Need More Women's Voices in Congress
- Walking in the Footsteps of… Building Women’s Political Capacity
- The 2012 Project
Why We Need More Women's Voices in Congress:
Back to the Index
The 2012 Project
In response to the growing presence of women running for elected office, the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University is launching The 2012 Project, a national, non-partisan campaign to identify and increase the number of women in legislative office. The campaign focuses on women from the baby boomer generation.
AAUW supports closing the political leadership gender gap. AAUW’s Elect Her initiative specifically focuses on increasing the number of women running for public office. Elect Her trains and encourages young women to run for student government and helps women view themselves as political candidates for the future. For more information, click here.
- from AAUW's Washington Update for August 6, 2009
Back to the Index
Walking in the Footsteps of… Building Women’s Political Capacity
There is a classic Maxine cartoon from 2007 which reads, “A female president would only be a good idea if you wanted the country run right for some reason.”
Well, 2010 was not a presidential election year, but it was the first time in 30 years that fewer women went to Washington for the 112th Congress in January. Women lost ground getting into federal office, and we will also see far fewer of our issues come to floor of the House and Senate for discussion, let alone for action.
A report from government watchdog groups shows NYS candidates raised about $246 million for statewide and legislative races in 2010, including nearly $72 million in the gubernatorial campaign. Of that amount, individual contributors accounted for $83 million, businesses or trade associations gave almost $67 million, three times as much as the $21 million from unions. Totals included $25 million in donations from other candidates and almost $14 million from political parties.
So the glass ceiling also has a pretty deep cash barrier. Given these numbers, we have to find ways to indentify and encourage more women to think about running for office, and we have to do it sooner in their political careers. While many women only think about running for office once their families are raised or they retire, that is too late to break into politics and be in the game long enough to get to a high enough level of government to really start effecting change.
So, what can AAUW branches and members do to create a climate where more women consider getting into public life sooner? AAUW-NYS has a new program initiative called “Walking in the Footsteps of…” designed to foster a local climate where women can learn from their political history, find mentors, and encourage talented women they know (or are) to consider appointed or elected office.
The Footsteps project will run through Election Day 2012 (although we hope you will continue efforts beyond that date).
Branches can research the political history of their area to learn about and teach others about the legal and political contributions of local women. (Perhaps you have already done this as part of the NYS Women Biography Project.)
Invite women office holders in your area to a non-partisan meeting to discuss how they got into office, what the barriers and challenges were, and the contributions they make as women. Ask them to create a mentor program for other women thinking about running.
Back to the Index
Branch Homepage - Public Policy Issues to Watch