A record number of women are running for political office this year, but Congress, statehouses and city halls across the country are still disproportionately male.
Despite making up half the population, women hold just 23.7% of U.S. congressional seats, 29.2% of state legislative seats and 18% of state governorships, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
Erin Vilardi is trying to change those numbers. She’s the founder of VoteRunLead, a nonpartisan organization that trains women to run for office and win. Nerdette spoke with Vilardi about what her organization does and why women should run. Below are highlights from the conversation.
Why she says women should run for political office
Erin Vilardi: Because we’re better at it. We’re better at government. We’re better at leading.
That actually is the truth. There’s a recent Harvard Business Review survey, something like nine out of the 10 things about leadership women bosses ranked higher than the men bosses. We find that women bring more money home to their districts, they pass more bills, they are more likely to have open and transparent democracy in how they do the business of government. So the facts are really on my side.
You know, maybe we’re not better, smarter, faster, maybe not. But what we are bringing is an entirely new set of perspectives — experiences on how we live our lives, how the world affects us — to the policy making table. And when you do that, it actually creates better policy for men and boys.
What her organization does to encourage prospective politicians
Vilardi: We are not trying to say, “Hey, here’s how you mold yourself into a lovely lady politician with your red suit and your pearls.” That is the way of the past, and the way of the future is truly authentic leadership, and not in the cheesy way you read in some of the management articles.
You don’t have to buy the three-piece suit to run for office. You can wear jeans and a blazer. You’re knocking on your neighbors door. They want to know how you truly feel and believe. So really, we’re authorizing women, and saying, “Give yourself permission to do this your way.”
What she says to women considering a run
Vilardi: You are enough. The skills you have and the talents you have are exactly what’s needed to run for office.
It is an experience like no other. And you will learn so much about who you are. You will always come out better for it.
This conversation was lightly edited for clarity and brevity. Press the ‘play’ button to hear the full episode.