Do You Have What It Takes To Be In Politics? – Novemember 21, 2010 – Segment Three
Betsy and Renee speak with Mary Hughes, Founder and Director of The 2012 Project, about her efforts to increase the number of women running for elected office across the country. As Mary explains, The 2012 Project is a new effort from the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University, and the goal of the national nonpartisan campaign to increase the number of women in legislative office at all levels. Primarily, The 2012 Project seeks to engage women who are “in their 3rd act” (mostly women over 45) to consider using that 3rd act as a time to give back through government service, especially women from the fields of finance, energy, environment, science, technology, small business, and international relations. The 2010 election saw the country lose almost 100 women from state legislatures, and female involvement in politics in general has been flatlining since an all-time high 24 new women were elected to the United States Congress in 1992.
According to Mary, women are generally put off from politics by the hard partisanship, the perpetual negativity, and a lack of belief that government is a source of solutions. However, the number one reason women give for not entering politics is that no one has ever asked them to do so, with many women feeling like they don’t have a roadmap to getting started, even if they’re interested and engaged. In terms of how The 2012 Project operates, they have actually been out the last two months road testing with their faculty of former elected women, included former governors, members of congress, and speakers in legislatures around the country. These former elected women come together in panels as speakers and go out to industry conferences, like the Society of Women Engineers, and say to these women with special expertise, “We need you. The state and the federal government needs you at the policy making table.”
Interestingly, Mary points out that we know from various studies that women change the agenda, the procedure, the content, and the outcome of legislation when they are present and involved in the process. Along those lines, the United States ranks 73rd in the world for gender parity in our federal legislature, meaning 17% of the Congress is female and 83% of the representation is male. In Mary’s eyes, so much talent is going to waste by not including more women in these decisions, and what The 2012 Project is trying to say by going to these women who are already accomplished in fields that are not traditional is that not only can they provide the gender diversity we need, but they can also bring a diversity of new experience and skills to the legislative process.
For more information on The 2012 Project, explore their website www.the2012project.us, with lots of information about upcoming events and ways to get in contact with the project.
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