On Monday, I had the opportunity to travel to Harrisburg with several other women at Bravo Group to attend the Pennsylvania Women’s Forum inaugural luncheon, called “Run. Win. Serve. Electing More Women to Public Office.” The forum featured two very influential women in PA politics, Sam Bennett, former president of the Women’s Campaign Fund and Christine Toretti, finance co-chair of the Republican National Committee. Nell McCormack Abom moderated a discussion focused on women in politics.
Both women emphasized the need for more women to run for public office. They both argued that no matter what party affiliation, women needed to be better represented. They argued that more women in office would have many benefits, including more attention drawn to important women’s issues. They also emphasized how having more women in office would increase the diversity and productivity of elected officials, leading to a stronger state and federal government.
“Women have a way of seeing the end result and not needing to take credit,” Toretti stressed. She argued that a woman’s humility is an asset to being a strong leader.
This luncheon taught me to be more aware of gender discrepancies and discrimination in politics. Before this luncheon, I wasn’t aware that the state of Pennsylvania has one of the lowest numbers of female political representatives in the county. I also was shocked about the obstacles women have to overcome when running for office. Often times, these obstacles prevent women from even attempting to run for office. These obstacles all derive from preconceived stereotypes about women and the emphasis of these stereotypes by the media.
So how can we all work together to get more women in elected positions? Toretti and Bennett gave those at the luncheon two great places to start. First, support women running for office despite their party affiliation. All women must address issues of sexism against female candidates. Second, encourage the women in your life to run. Both Toretti and Bennett agreed that even in 2014 women can be intimidated by the idea of running for public office. However, they both also agreed that many women will answer the call to run with a strong support system. The more women running for office, the more successful women are.
“We as women only lose when we don’t run,” Bennett said.
I found this luncheon to be very informative and inspiring. As a young woman, I learned a lot about the need for women to run and the benefits of having strong women represent us in government. I will definitely follow the suggestions of Sam Bennett and Christine Toretti to inspire women to run for office and to not tolerate negative stereotypes given to women. This past luncheon inspired all of those in the room and I am confident that it will inspire more women to run.