Women in Office: The Next Generation

An Economics major, two Chemistry majors, an International Studies major, and a Sociology major all walk into a bar. What do they have in common? They’re all going to run for office, and they’re all women. There is tremendous power in representation, knowing that there are people like you in the career path you’re interested in. Sometimes this comes in the form of older role models. Sometimes it comes in the form of peers.

Deciding to run for office can be a difficult decision, and it should certainly not be taken lightly. But the hurdles for women who want to run for office are much higher. On average, a woman must be asked seven times to run for office before agreeing to run, while men only need to be asked once, or they decide to run without being asked. It can be harder for women in primaries to find financing for their campaigns, and then, once they decide to run, they are often held to different standards on the campaign trail.

There’s something remarkable being surrounded by women, who have never been asked to run for office (except maybe by their friends or family), all deciding that, at some point in their lives, they want to be an elected official. Each woman has envisioned a different path for herself. One hopes to get a PhD in chemistry and run for office as a climate change advocate. Another wants to go into community organizing, and then maybe do some policy work before she runs. Still, another wants to go to law school before she runs. And, each woman has set her sights on a different office. One, wants to be the first female governor of Ohio. One, wants to be a Congresswoman, and still another wants to be President. But each of us is committed to starting small, building the community, the country we want to see from the ground up.

I would argue, having female friends, from all different backgrounds, all interested in running for office is even more powerful than seeing Senator Kamala Harris bcome the first mixed race woman in the Senate, or watching Secretary Hillary Clinton run for president. The woman sitting next to you in Seminar, or sleeping in the bed across from you in your dorm room can be more inspiring because she’s normal, just like you. Before the glory and the hype that come with high office, all these woman start out as normal, everyday people. It’s easy to forget, when you watch them on the stage at the Democratic National Convention, or standing on the floor of the United States Senate, that these women were once college students like ourselves; they worried about their grades, they struggled with relationships, they applied for competitive internships and got rejected too.  

There may be only 20 women in the United States Senate, 4 female governors, and only 19.4% of the House of Representatives are women today, but in 30 years, when my friends and I are gearing up our campaigns, the world will change. We have the courage, we have the tenacity, we have the heart. We will fight and we will win, but we will step up to the victory podium with our hands outstretched, ready to lift up those who come after us.


Image Credit: Jessie Gorovitz