Elect Her aims to bring women into politics


Charlie Coffey/Iowa State Daily

The Elect Her program, hosted by the American Association for University Women, trains students to seek positions in student and career political positions.

Kyndal Reimer

While women make up half of the population, they are poorly represented across the political spectrum.

According to The Nation, a weekly journal dedicated to news and politics, women make up less than 20 percent of congressional seats.

Elect Her, a national program striving to prepare high school- and college-aged women to run for student government as well as for office, is promoting leadership on college campus.

The program was created in collaboration between the American Association of University Women and Running Start. Both founding organizations focus on empowering women and addressing the issue of the gender gap in politics.

According to Elect Her’s mission statement, it is the “only program in the country that encourages and trains college women to run for student government and future political office … Elect Her addresses the need to expand the pipeline of women candidates and to diminish the longstanding political leadership gender gap.”

Fifty campuses across the United States will host the 2016 Elect Her training workshop. Iowa State will host the Elect Her workshop for the first time on Jan. 23.

At the workshop, a facilitator will come from the Elect Her program, and there will be exercises to help students think about what their campaign might be and what issues are important to them.

An elected female office holder will come and speak, as well as a panel of women who are currently or have served in student government at Iowa State to give some advice and perspective.

Kelly Winfrey, assistant professor of journalism and mass communication and coordinator for research and outreach at the Carrie Chapman Catt Center, has been working on organizing the workshop by planning, inviting speakers and promoting the event.

“At Iowa State, as well as most other universities, women are underrepresented in student government,” Winfrey said. “[Women] make up a large amount of the student population but less of a percentage in student government. This holds true big picture as well at both national and local political levels. It’s especially important for girls to start getting involved early on in the college scene.”

The event is aimed towards college students and the faculty.

Elect Her encourages faculty members to invite women to get involved. Women are more likely to get involved if they are made welcome to do so, Winfrey said.

Winfrey noted that the point she hopes the program gets across is that women should feel encouraged and invited to get involved in politics on campus and beyond.

According to Elect Her, in 2015, 76 percent of the program’s workshop participants who reported running for campus office won.

To RSVP, contact Winfrey at [email protected] or the Catt Center if you wish to get involved with the Elect Her program.