Oh, hello, sexism.
As a woman running for my first political office I have discovered that in some cases, depending on who is asking, the question “why are you running?” really means “what makes you think you are qualified to run?”
Turns out running for political office as a woman is very similar to vying for a C-Suite position at a corporation, or building your own business. For women, the odds are far higher that we will hit a wall. And in many cases, those walls are built by each other.
This week at a Victoria Woodhull event in Granville, I was honored to speak on a panel of women from both political parties. Of the candidates on the panel, I was the only one who lacked any traditional qualifications (a law degree or previously holding an elected office).
After we each told our stories a female member of the audience stood up and challenged the notion that women should be running for public office without any previous “experience.”
“Why is it so important to have women in office?” she demanded to know. “I would never vote for someone just because she’s a woman. I am going to vote for the most qualified candidate!” She looked directly at me as she spoke and it became very clear that her question was not really a question, but a statement intended to express her frustration with my candidacy. “Soccer moms and PTA moms can’t run for public office just because they feel like it!”
At first when deciding to run I wondered the same thing. Was I really qualified to run? I was my own worst critic. And unlike my friends who are on the PTA, I didn’t even have that impressive qualification.
Rationally I realized I was suffering from imposter syndrome and that I was perfectly qualified to run and yes, to win. But on many occasions my irrational mind took over and there were several moments when I said, “nope, I’m not doing it.” To which my husband said, “alright then, if you don’t I will.”
And he was serious.
He was intentionally reminding me of the fact that men do run for office “because they feel like it” and even with far less qualifiers than the women possess.
The same effect happens to women when we are applying for jobs. Unless we have 100% of the qualifications listed we don’t even bother applying. Meanwhile men apply when they have 60% of the qualifications. Stunning, I know.
As an example, the women who manage the PTA or their family’s sports schedules, are entirely qualified to run for office or to apply for any number of professional positions with similar responsibilities. Bottom line: women need to have more confidence in themselves. We deserve it.
Fortunately, I was also joined on the panel by Kate Black, co-author of the fabulous book Represent: The Woman’s Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World. She pointed out the fact that women legislators, on average, pass twice as many bills as their male counterparts.
And as I reminded our audience member (and myself), I have spent the past four years of my life building a national women’s network, have started two businesses and defied the odds to become one of 1.7% of women business owners who break the $1 million in revenue mark. I am also a mother and yes, a proud soccer mom. And yes, I am running because I damn well feel like it.
I am running until it hurts.
I am running because our children’s future depends on it.
I am running because we all deserve answers and action.
I am running to finally flip Ohio’s 12th Congressional District.
I am running to become the first woman to hold this Congressional seat (ever).
Will you join me? I need each and every one of you.
Here’s what you can do to help:
- Donate. To win, we need cash. We are, after all, running in a system designed to keep us out. And every single dollar adds up. Can you give $20.20 today to celebrate International Women’s Day?
- Attend an event. We have button making parties, door knocking events and phone banking opportunities. Find events here. I can’t wait to see you!!!
- Share our story on social. If you have not already, please share our beautiful campaign video on your social channels.
Thank you all. I couldn’t do it without you.