Are You On The Sidelines? What Moms Can Do To Be Heard!
I was shocked to learn that when it comes to the number of women in elected office, the United States comes in at an embarrassing 90th in the world, behind Cuba and Afghanistan.
It was also sad to learn that women just aren't running for political office like they should. It's not surprising, we've seen that game and its hard to find all the lying, long hours, and political shenanagins appealing. I think women and mothers are looking at politics in the same way many look at corporate America--I've seen your game, I know it is stacked against me and my family values and I am not interested in playing, thankyouverymuch.
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending Lifetime's Every Woman Counts launch event at Hofstra University, hosted by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand--a working mom of two boys, who famously replaced Hillary Clinton. She also became pregnant soon after and later openly talked about her breastfeeding experiences. On May 12, 2008 she spent 12 hours on the House floor before going into labor. Talk about your working mom.
The theme was Getting Off the Sidelines: A Conversation About The Urgency of Women's Political, Community and Business Leadership Today. The speakers included Geri Bash, president of the 1 in 9 Foundation, Tiffany Dufu president of The White House Project and Sam Bennett, president and CEO of the Women's Campaign Fund and SheShouldRun.org.
What struck me most about the event that it wasn't about getting women to vote (as I thought), it was about getting women to run for political office. What's the motivation? Well, whatever you are passionate about.
"Passion can change the world," Gillibrand said. I can't argue with that.
And if you want to know the number reason why more women don't run, well, the panelists said, it's because we aren't asked. Way too simple, huh. Oh, and if we are asked, we typically view ourselves as unqualified and have to be poked, prodded and led to campaign trail.
Yet, we know how much we are needed at the table. We can't change the game if more women aren't in game changer positions of leadership. As the panelists said, when women are heard and involved in the solution-process, the outcome is always better. Hey, I tried to tell my ex-husband that for 10 years!
Then there's what a recent study called the ambition gap--quite frankly, women aren't aspiring to the corner office or the political podium like we used to. According to a recent study by McKinsey & Co, only 16%-18% of women say "being in top management is worth the cost."
When I asked Senator Gillibrand what can busy working moms do if they don't have a lot of time, she said, "Get involved in any issues they care about whether its local access to fruit and vegetables at an affordable rate or clean air or safe baby products. Women need to be heard on these issues." If that sounds too daunting, Gillibrand said moms should, "Vote every election. Start a blog. Write letters to the editor. Do what's most inspiring," she said. She also encourages women to visit her website, offthesidelines.org or sheshouldrun.org where women can take action and make a difference.
Are you woman enough?
(From L to R)
Danielle Carrig, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Lifetime Television
Geri Barish, Founder and President, 1 in 9 Foundation
Tiffany Dufu, President, the White House Project
Anna Kaplan, newly elected member of the North Hempstead Town Council
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Sam Bennett, President, the Women’s Campaign Forum
Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby
Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz