StuGov specializes outreach to women, encourages them to run for office

Speaker Zoey Shipley listens during a Student Government meeting on Nov. 29 at the Memorial Union. 

Caitlin Yamada

Last Thursday, an informational event was held for women interested in running for positions in Student Government at Iowa State. This seminar was created this year by Zoey Shipley, Joi Latson and Rachael Barnes.

Along with the required election code presentation, students in attendance learned more about the history of women in government and gained a more in-depth look at the three women who spearheaded the event and who have previous experience working for Student Government.

The question portion of the event was used by students to ask questions which ranged from what positions are available to run for to if there was any non-binary or LGBTQA+ representation in Student Government.

“We want women to learn about why their voices are needed in political offices, including Student Government, and how they can be successful in these positions,” Speaker Shipley said.

We originally came up with the idea because women are a lot more intimidated in campaigns and elections,” said Barnes, senior director of student services and chief of staff. “By holding an all women’s session, with a component of having conversation about experiences, it will encourage them.”

In the executive branch of Student Government, there are currently 25 members and 11 of them are women — these Shipley, Latson and Barnes want this number to be more equal.

On a more national scale, however, the disparity in representation is much greater.

In the House of Representatives, women hold 83 of the 435 seats. This equates to just 19.1 percent. In the Senate, women only hold 21 of the 100 seats.

“Sometimes people are like ‘Oh, I want to run for Student Government but I’m not entirely sure.’ If they come to a regular Election Code meeting they don’t have that personal interaction with people, they are just learning the rules,” said Joi Latson, co-director of new student outreach.

Additionally, a recommendation form was sent out to different faculty on campus so that they could encourage women they know to attend.

“For me specifically, I had someone ‘shoulder tap’ me and tell me ‘Hey, you should go for this position’ and I feel like that pushed me to run for that position,” Latson said.

Along with encouraging women to run, Barnes hopes they can inspire women to not be scared of failure.

Latson hopes to make it easier for women walking into Senate for the first time, too.

“My first time stepping into Senate was very intimidating. So, stepping out of that room and showing them that I am a person that you can come talk to me if you have a question — I’ll go to senate with you to make it less scary,” she said. 

During the presentation, Shipley, Latson and Barnes also pointed out an analysis done by the Daily, analyzing the amount of times voting-members spoke. It was found that male senators spoke at a much higher rate than female senators.

“Within the three of us we’ve built a really strong connection and to really talk about some of the issues that we face, so we realize that we can hopefully bring others into that and build that type of community,” Barnes said.