WGR Blog December 2016

“Now, I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will – and hopefully sooner than we might think right now.” Hillary Clinton gave a passionate concession speech in the wake of her loss to president-elect Donald Trump, reminding women and girls across American that our work for equal representation is far from over. The 45th President of the United States still is not a woman. According to a Pew Research study coupled with data from the United Nations out of the 175 leaders worldwide, only 18 of them are women, a mere 10 percent. However, the outcome of 2016 should not deter women from running for public office, in fact, it should serve as a further spark for change and encourage women across the nation to participate in political office at the local, state, and national levels. While Secretary Clinton’s loss was unexpected, women did see successes in the 2016 election cycle. The 115th Congress will have 104 female members (78 D, 26R), which is the highest representation in Congressional history, and three newly elected female senators are also women of color. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) will be the second Asian-American female to serve in Congress. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) will be the first Indian-American and second black women to be elected to the Senate. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) is the first Latina to be elected to the Senate. The House of Representatives also made history with voters electing the first Indian-American woman (Pramila Jayapal, D-WA), first Somali-American women (Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-MN), and first Vietnamese-American woman (Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-FL).

Secretary Clinton was able to overcome a barrier no other woman in politics was able to achieve, a party nomination for president, and with that has paved the way for those to come for the next woman (Republican or Democrat) to run for president. Now more than ever we should stand up, speak without raising our hands, insert ourselves into the dialogue, and encourage more women to run for office and advance in their profession.

It starts at the grassroots level – if you know of a woman  who is interested in  running for office, starting her own business, or aspiring to become a professional athlete -- we have to start leveling the playing field for each generation of women. In politics, there are only 11 states that have ever elected a female governor and senator, while in contrast there are 14 states that have never elected a female governor nor senator. Female candidates’ campaigns are consistently under-funded by PACs than male candidates’ campaigns. This is a challenge since there is an increasing number of women running for political office. In sports, women are advancing—there were 294 female athletes on Team USA in the 2016 Olympics to 264 men, yet female Olympians still face wage gap, expectations to play under different conditions, and have been sexualized and objectified. In 2012, the National Women’s Business Council reported that women-owned businesses had increased by 26.8%. Now more than ever, as our landscape is changing – women need to continue to support other women seeking leadership positions in politics, STEM fields, PTA organizations, athletics, and academia so that we can ensure we continue to encourage a woman to run and be elected as the President of the United States.

With your help and support, we can continue fighting to implement change in the lives of girls and women across the nation by uniting together in our policies, like: family medical leave, equal pay, sexual assault in the military, and healthcare policies affecting family planning. Women have risen; this is our call-to-action to keep advancing each generation of powerful female advocates. “Let us not grow weary. Let us not lose heart. For there are more seasons to come and more work to do.”

Here are 10 ways you can help build female leaders:

  • Join a professional organization whose goal is to foster female empowerment and professional development.
  • Run for office.
  • Work/volunteer on a campaign with a female candidate.
  • Donate to a female candidate’s campaign.
  • Support the network of women around you.
  • Develop mentorships between women and girls to promote role models at a young age and in the early part of a young woman’s career.
  • Inspire girls and women who want to enter fields that that generally see a lack of female professionals.
  • Encourage young professionals who are women to apply for internships after high school or during/after college.
  • Vote in local, state, and national campaigns.
  • Most importantly, provide your daughter with opportunities to build confidence, emotional intelligence, resiliency, and empowerment.

Lauren Waldron is a proud member of Women in Government Relations (WGR), an organization dedicated to advancing and empowering women through professional development and growth opportunities in the government relations industry.  Additionally, Lauren serves as the Marketing and Content Development Associate for the National Association of Social Workers, managing professional and workforce development communications, marketing, and advocacy campaigns, events, and products for social workers.  The views expressed above are entirely her own and do not reflect the position of either organization.

Past Blogs

One Step Closer to Eliminating the Glass Ceiling - November 2016
The Female Vote This Election Season
- October 2016
Back to School, Back to School
- September 2016
Mentoring: The Bridge Connecting Generations
- August 2016
The Business of Golf
- June 2016
An Interview with Representative Barbara Comstock
- May 2016
Millennials in the Workforce
- April 2016
Health, Social Networking - March 2016