Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Photo by Nily Rozic Nily Rozic was asked multiple times to run for office before she seriously considered it. The 26-year-old New York state assemblywoman-elect admits she was asked “over and over” to run, which is not an unusual thing to hear from female candidates.

AAUW, Running Start, and She Should Run recently held a conference call for alumnae of Elect Her–Campus Women Win — a program that trains college women to run for student government — with the goal of encouraging these remarkable young women to run for public office. The call, which targeted students who have been through Elect Her and held student leadership positions, aimed to get these women to think about running for office after college and to share the steps they can be taking now to prepare for a career in politics. As one of the speakers on the call, Rozic shared her own story, which touched on all of the tips that AAUW, Running Start, and She Should Run typically share with attendees.

1. Go Local

Rozic knew she wanted to do something to give back to the neighborhood where she grew up, so she made sure to take leadership roles in her community. Rozic first advises becoming a leader in your own community, whatever role it may be. Ramping up your involvement in things you already care about is a great way to build leadership skills that will help you eventually run for office.

2. Start Now

Rozic was not afraid of jumping into the ring at a young age, and she encouraged the Elect Her alums to do the same. “You’ve just got to start,” she said, and you’ll discover that there are people who are ready to jump in and support you. Rozic said several political trainings were invaluable to her, especially in finding and developing mentors. For a list of trainings across the country, visit the Center for American Women in Politics.

3. Try Volunteering

A third way for young women to take their political experience to the next level is by taking a paid, intern, or volunteer position for a political campaign or in a current political leader’s office. Rozic landed her first government job working for a member of the New York State Assembly, where she got a feel for what government was like and eventually worked her way up to chief of staff. There are great opportunities at the local, state, and federal levels. For instance, try volunteering on a campaign — you can reach out to the local Republican or Democratic parties to find out more about the candidates. Or you can contact a local or state elected official to find out about opportunities. Each U.S. congressional office manages its own internship program, so look on your representatives’ websites to find out more. Nonprofits also organize internships with members of Congress through programs like Running Start’s Star Fellowship Program.

Ultimately, Rozic urges young women to embrace their youth when running for office. Our elected officials need to be representative of all types of people, and being young is not a disadvantage: “You’re ahead of the curve!”

Read Full Post »

To most of our AAUW Dialog readers, it’s no secret that women’s representation in American politics is appallingly low. Women make up just 17 percent of the U.S. Congress, 24 percent of state legislators, and 23 percent of state executive officers. The numbers are even lower for women under 40 and for women of color. The United States is ranked 80th in the world for women’s representation in national politics, behind countries like Uganda, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Yowza.

With Election Day looming, these numbers are always in the forefront of my mind as women’s issues are ignored or attacked by political candidates. The truth is, when we don’t have women in the pipeline for political office, we can’t be guaranteed someone at the table will be representing our interests.

It is for that exact reason that AAUW and Running Start teamed up for Elect Her–Campus Women Win, the only national program that encourages and trains college women to run for office in student government and beyond. We are excited to announce the 39 colleges and universities that will be offering these trainings for women on their campuses this spring. Stay informed about Elect Her via Facebook, and send any questions about the program to leadership@aauw.org.

New Sites in 2013

California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, California

California State University, Chico, California

Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York

Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont

North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina

Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

Sierra College, Rocklin, California

University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota

University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia

Returning Sites

Coastal Carolina University, Conway, South Carolina

Denison University, Granville, Ohio

George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia

Georgian Court University, Lakewood, New Jersey

Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Loyola University, New Orleans, Louisiana

Mount San Jacinto College, Menifee, California

Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan

Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington

Stanford University, Palo Alto, California

Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York

University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio

University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut

University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

University of North Carolina, Wilmington, North Carolina

University of Texas, Arlington, Texas

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia

University of the West Indies, Mona; Kingston, Jamaica

University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming

Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia

Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington

Willamette University, Salem, Oregon

Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio

Read Full Post »

Candidates running for political office are put under a microscope. But some are scrutinized in ways that others aren’t. In her piece for the Women’s Media Center, AAUW Director of Leadership Programs Kate Farrar wrote, “The more things change, the more they stay the same. Just look at the coverage of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wearing headbands or going ‘au naturel.’ Or skim the story on former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann’s fingernails.”

Photo courtesy of the Clinton LibraryThese are excellent examples of the ways in which women candidates are judged differently than their male peers, and it’s ridiculous. But recently we’ve started judging men’s attire too — like Paul Ryan’s “dad pants.” Seriously?

I can’t believe we, as a nation, are talking about this stuff. It’s an issue that has always been part of the conversation, and I don’t think it should. It doesn’t matter if the candidate is a woman or a man — we shouldn’t be talking about their clothing or fashion choices. Instead, that energy should be directed toward coverage of their stances on issues that affect our daily lives. Whether Clinton wears headbands or Ryan wears dad pants is irrelevant to my day-to-day existence. What does matter are candidates’ views on women and our hard-won rights.

Unfortunately, this distraction also exists for women in other professions. The New York Times last month published a story about women technology professionals that highlighted their appearances instead of their achievements. Focusing on their clothes and comparing their opulence with the frumpy sweats and jeans worn by other tech moguls doesn’t empower them — it demeans them.

The reporter includes a quote — and a troubling message — from designer Stacey Bendet Eisner: “[Successful tech women] also want an element of sophistication to their clothes because they want to be taken seriously.” Unfortunately, in our society, women and girls are constantly bombarded with the message that the only way to be taken seriously is to look good.

I can’t believe crucial column inches and spots in the blogosphere are devoted to something so superficial when there are more substantive, life-altering issues that should be the topics of national conversation.

Rather than focus on the fashion choices people make, look at the substance. Let’s not keep using these shortcuts to judge people and label them. We know there’s going to be a next time — this issue will keep popping up again and again. History has shown that. Hopefully, though, we’ll know to look past it because intelligence, skills, and viewpoints matter. Appearance does not.

Read Full Post »

AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz will report from the Democratic National Convention this week and reported from the Republican National Convention last week. Follow her updates at AAUW Dialog, on Facebook, and @LisaMaatz on Twitter.

“If Mitt Romney and Republicans played up their feminine side last week in Tampa, Democrats on Tuesday were utterly and unabashedly feminist.” So says the National Journal after the Democrats’ schmoozefest Tuesday night. I won’t lie — I enjoyed it. The Democratic women of the House were wonderful, a rainbow with superstars like pay-equity champion Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, choice champion (and my former boss) Carolyn Maloney of New York, and the always-feisty and on-point Gwen Moore of Wisconsin.

Lilly Ledbetter had the crowd jumping out of their seats, stating that “equal pay for equal work is an American value.” And of course, first lady Michelle Obama gave a tour-de-force defense of and case for her husband’s reelection. All were entertaining. All were feel good. But I would also say that Ann Romney’s speech was also very feel good, and the GOP trotted out lots of women as well.

Yes, yes, I know the substance of both conventions’ first nights was very different. The party platforms, both of which AAUW submitted comments on, are very different. While Tuesday night’s DNC lineup made for a fun evening — it’s never boring ­­­­­­watching lots of smart women speak snarky truth to power — I’ve gotten cranky. I want more from both parties!

The real question is what have you done for us lately? Yes, women will decide this election. But don’t just parade around your female celebrities and think that will satisfy us! The stakes are high; tell us why you deserve our vote! Don’t pander, and for goodness sake, don’t take us for granted. I’m so tired of lip service. While past achievements are nice and all, what’s your party’s plan for the future?

It’s time for the typical dog-and-pony show to stop. If indeed women decide this election — and it’s looking more and more like that will be the case — then we as women need to seize this opportunity to hold candidates accountable. Candidates from both parties need to tell us what their plans are for the economy, jobs, education, health care, responsible budgets, violence against women, national security, and other issues. They need to be clear about their positions on reproductive rights, pay equity, Title IX, child care, and food stamps. And women need to cast their votes accordingly.

Here’s the bottom line. The women of America have a real chance this time to turn the tide in our direction — in everyone’s direction, when it comes to equal rights. Both parties are scampering for our votes, and it’s our job not to give them away lightly. We need to cast them thoughtfully, deliberately, and every single woman of voting age in the nation needs to be registered and at the polls on November 6 or forever hold her peace.

But this journey doesn’t end with the election. Once women have chosen our president, our Senate, our House, and our state legislatures nationwide, the real work begins. AAUW plans to hold our legislators’ feet to the fire, based not only on their election-year promises but also on the fact that they owe their jobs to us. January is the time to start delivering. It’s like my wonderful mama always says: I brought you into this world, and I can take you out!

The AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard voter education and turnout campaign represents an unprecedented investment in making women’s voices heard in the 2012 election. Follow us on Twitter and on Tumblr for the latest updates, and check out our biweekly Campaign Update for news, resources, and ideas.

Read Full Post »

No, I’m not referring to an Olympic event but rather to a group of three enterprising, civic-minded high school girls who took action when they learned that it has been 20 years since a woman last moderated a presidential debate.

Shocked to learn this fact in their civics class, the girls organized petitions on Change.org, contacted the Commission on Presidential Debates, and made a trip to Washington, D.C. In a brief but very telling interview with NPR, one of the young women, Emma Axelrod, says that the girls never received a response from the commission and were denied the chance to pass along their box of signatures on USB drives, which were deemed potentially “dangerous.” NPR also tried to contact the commission after hearing the girls’ story but as of July 31 hadn’t received a response.

Axelrod told NPR,

“When we learned that there’s been 20 years since a woman moderated, that gap shocked us so much that we almost couldn’t believe it. And it seems so doable to just have them pick a woman this election. There is such an abundance of strong, capable, nonpartisan, unbiased female journalists for them to choose from, and it seems like a really good place to start and sort of begin to equal out the representation.”

Because I work in D.C., I can understand the mentality that a box might be dangerous or that USB drives could contain computer viruses. What I can’t understand is the fact that reportedly not one individual at the commission responded to these young women and their attempt to be heard. I immediately thought back to the recent House of Representatives hearing on birth control that featured five men and no women on its opening panel. Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown University, was scheduled to testify about how women are harmed when denied access to birth control, but her opportunity to speak was shut down by the committee chair.

Courtesy of Flickr user waltarrrrr

In 1992, Carole Simpson moderated the debate among independent candidate Ross Perot, Democratic nominee Bill Clinton, and President George H.W. Bush.

When asked by NPR how she felt about not being heard, Axelrod replied, “It’s discouraging not to be listened to, especially as three high school girls trying to make a change in our country for the better, for equal representation of our gender. You know, we put a lot of time into this. One of the petitioners, Alaina Simbaras, is missing volleyball camp to be here. You know, we’re really dedicated.”

Ouch! If you want a pulse on the next generation, who better to listen to than civic-minded  students who are willing to take action? Who better to listen to if you want to encourage civic participation among young women— or women and men of all ages? While I might consider myself young, I’m certainly way past my high school years, and I was discouraged about our political process when I heard this story.

AAUW does a lot to promote millennials’ participation in our democratic system. Our Elect Her–Campus Women Win program and $tart $mart salary negotiation workshops provide education and encouragement for young women to engage in leadership roles and campaign activities. The AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign is on the ground in 15 states to make sure young women know what’s at stake in the 2012 election and that they turn out to vote.

And the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders focuses on leadership development. On a local level, it’s not surprising to see our members in high schools in their communities raising awareness about civic issues and the opportunities that women  have — or in this case, the opportunities that they don’t have.

AAUW would love to have these three students come and meet with us! Maybe our collective power can help spread the word and open those still-closed-to-women doors here in our nation’s capital.

Read Full Post »

The AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard voter education and turnout campaign represents an unprecedented investment in making women’s voices heard in the 2012 election. Follow us on Twitter and on Tumblr for the latest updates, and check out our biweekly Campaign Update for news, resources, and ideas.

In a matter of 24 hours, AAUW branches from across the state of Michigan came together to support a voter registration drive during a performance of The Vagina Monologues that was held on the steps of the Michigan Capitol building. We’re proud to report that we registered 104 people from across the state to vote and signed up 34 volunteers for the It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign.

After a state lawmaker was barred in June from speaking on the House floor because Republicans objected to her saying “vagina” in a debate over anti-choice legislation, Eve Ensler, author of the award-winning play The Vagina Monologues, contacted women legislators from Michigan and asked what she could do to help. Just 72 hours later, Ensler flew to Michigan and put together a performance of the play starring Michigan actresses and legislators.

Michigan actresses and legislators perform on the capitol steps.

The corresponding registration drive was an amazing success and a testament to the tenacity and commitment of AAUW members in Michigan. A special thank-you goes to Ulla Roth, an It’s My Vote coordinator from the AAUW Ann Arbor (MI) Branch who helped coordinate volunteers from Ann Arbor and Lansing in the hours preceding the June event.

On July 18, we again joined forces with several Michigan organizations on the capitol lawn to take a stand on women’s issues. About 500 people gathered at the steps to hear speakers from the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, and the Michigan Nurses Association, among others. Attendees then moved to the House and Senate galleries to watch our legislators, while others met with their representatives and senators to talk about issues affecting women in Michigan.

At the event, led by AAUW Rochester (MI) Branch member and Michigan State Public Policy Chair Barbara Bonsignore, we spoke with several of these organizations about joining the It’s My Vote campaign as coalition members and signed up additional volunteers.

This blog was written by AAUW of Michigan campaign organizer Julie Rowe.

Read Full Post »

The Marine Corps, the most male-dominated armed service, recently announced the integration of women into the Combat Endurance Test, a rigorous 86-day training program for top-performing lieutenants. Known as the Marine Corps’ most grueling course, the Combat Endurance Test includes physical obstacles, endurance training, and challenging exams about assembling and using weaponry, navigation, and equipment. Currently, this test is only offered to top-performing male Marine lieutenants, but women officers will be permitted to volunteer for the test in September. The female Marines will be under critical evaluation, as their inclusion is an experiment in an ongoing study to determine whether women should take on more extensive combat roles.

Women still are not officially permitted to fight in battle, although many have indeed fought and died in combat. In February, the Pentagon began to ease restrictions on women in combat by formally allowing them to serve closer to the front line. After that decision, the Army and the Marine Corps began to study and test the integration of women into positions and divisions traditionally reserved for men.

The introduction of women into the Combat Endurance Test is an important step toward the broader inclusion of women in our armed forces. AAUW opposes all forms of discrimination on the basis of sex and pushes for the equal treatment of women in the military — not just in combat but also in robust anti-harassment and anti-assault policies and access to health care, including contraception and abortion.

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Laura Dietrich.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »