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A girl's guide to running for elected office

Amanda L. Beal
SASS Magazine

Training Ms Pres 2017 feature

Participants in the 2017 Training Ms. President workshop. The 2018 workshop will be held at Mount St. Mary's University in November.

Even though women are earning 60 percent of the higher education degrees, they are still less likely to run for elected office. Elected female officials make up less than 20 percent of congressional representatives and 25 percent of our state legislative representatives. Only six women currently serve as governors and only 39 women have ever served as governors.

Luckily, there is a promising push to close the political ambition gap between men and women. Across the U.S., new organizations are emerging and encouraging young women to run for office. Our local example is called Training Ms. President, a workshop organized by faculty at Mount St. Mary's University and Goucher, Hood and Washington Colleges. Workshop panels include local politicians, political strategists and campaign managers, political strategists and campaign managers, political journalists, and state representatives. Here is a "how to run for office" guide based on advice from these wonderful and talented mentors.

Get Involved

First and foremost, get involved! So many women say they might run for office someday, but young women who see their pathway as a journey toward elected office are more likely to run for office, so don't wait.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner emphasized that her participation in local meetings prepared her for serving in local office. Karen Lewis Young, Maryland State Delegate for Frederick City (District 3A), suggests that you should first choose a function in the campaign that you prefer and volunteer for that role. Either way, get started now!

GET INFORMED

Getting involved helps you get informed. You should also study structures and processes, follow political issues, and consume current political discussions from diverse sources.

Obtaining information and knowledge in these areas will not only make you a better candidate and a better politician, but it will increase your ability to get involved; you will know more about the opportunities available to you.

Organize

Attend or organize your own political party meetings. Local party chapters are often looking for leaders who want to organize events that will help them recruit volunteers and supporters.

Be Socially Savvy

One of the most well known and yet still helpful pieces of advice for someone running for office is to be socially savvy. Think about how you are coming across to others in person and on the Internet. It's never too late to be conscious and careful about what you post on social media platforms.

Networking

Go to events, introduce yourself. Ask questions. And follow up with people! Networking is the pathway to all sorts of opportunities, It is one of the single most important parts of any career path. Get yourself out there.

Internships & Mentorship

Lewis Young said she has never been contacted by a woman who was interested in volunteering for her--she always receives these requests from men. Be ambitious. Send emails to local, state or federal representatives. Ask about volunteer opportunities or internships.

Be Nice

Many of the politicos and politicians emphasized the importance of being polite, listening to other people's points of view and responding to people. As Gardner emphasized to us, "Friends will come and go, but enemies will accumulate. So be nice."

Amanda L. Beal, Ph.D., is the director of the philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) program, chair of the political science department and an associate professor at Mount St. Mary's University. She co-directs the Training Ms. President workshop. Her research and teaching interests include comparative and international politics in the Americas.

Reprinted from the Fall 2018 Sass Magazine.

 

Amanda L. Beal
SASS Magazine