Winning Women Persist: Lessons On Running For Office for Women Leaders

“Hello, strong women!”Judging by the applause, whistles, hoots and hollers that followed, you can say that Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) greeting to a room of more than 1,000 for the “Together We Rise: Empower the Women, Develop The Nation” luncheon in Chicago recently was extremely well-received.Speaking at the annual Rainbow PUSH Coalition meeting to receive the justice and peace award from Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., coalition founder, Warren said, “We could whimper, cower and shake. But I’m fighting back.”[bctt tweet=“Sen. Elizabeth Warren urges all women to persist in their leadership #NeverthelessShePersisted” username=“takeleadwomen”]Echoing that sentiment, Jackson said, “We are only down when we stop kicking.”“I am the daughter of a janitor and I became a professor and a U.S. senator. Doors do not open on their own,” said Warren, who grew up in Oklahoma. “This chance I got was more than others got. Others ran into brick walls of segregation and doors bolted shut.”Speaking about the wealth gap in America, Warren reminded the crowd about the #NeverthelessShePersisted meme she inspired after being told to stop reading Coretta Scott King’s letter on the floor of Congress.#ShePersisted prompted nonpartisan lessons of leadership for women interrupted and silenced at meetings all over the country in all aspects of work and cultures of workplaces far beyond politics.According to Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take The Lead, in order to persist, “First understand the game to change it. And no, it isn’t that men and women are hard wired differently. Nor is there a secret plot against women. The late leadership guru Peter Drucker rightly said culture eats strategy for lunch. Both men and women have been shaped by the culture we grew up in and it will take proactive consciousness raising to elevate their own and their women friends’ awareness of the ingrained gendered biases in both policy and practice.“Speaking more about the need to be righteous in persistence, Warren reiterated at the Chicago event, “We will not be silent.”Women in government on all sides as well as women leaders around the country need to speak up in their workplaces, families and communities. She said, “We will continue to struggle for progress.”[bctt tweet=“Women leaders around the country need to #speakup in workplaces, families, & communities” username=“takeleadwomen”]Also honored at the event was Dorothy Brown, the first African American woman to head the largest county court system in the country. As clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Brown said as a little girl growing up in Louisiana, the words of Jackson resonated with her.“’I am somebody’ enabled me to come to Chicago,” Brown said.“I work hard to empower people to get a second chance and empower women to develop a network. When women work together, we are a powerful force,”  Brown said.More women are actively seeking avenues to work together and become politically active as leaders in the last year.In Washington, D.C. recently, “Young Women Run,” was a “two-day training for politically ambitious young women,” according to the site. This event was “designed to advance the skills and capacities of young women who are eager to become the next generation of political leaders and offer the training and tools you need to run for office.”

“By July, Erin Loos Cutraro — the bipartisan She Should Run’s co-founder and CEO — told Axios that more than 15,000 had joined the community, with 11,000 actively planning to run for office. Those unprecedented numbers inspired the organization’s 250kby2030 campaign, announced recently, and aims to achieve gender parity in politics in just 13 years,” writes Claire Landsbaum in The Cut.

“The campaign’s goal is to fill half of the country’s 500,000 elected positions with women by 2030. ‘We’re really taking advantage of this surge and saying, ‘Now is our chance to build this path,’ Cutraro said. She added that the extended timeline is meant to ‘make it clear that we’re in it for the long haul … we know it’s not going to happen overnight,‘” according to Landsbaum.

According to a new report from Pew Research Center, “In 2017, 21 women serve in the U.S. Senate and 83 serve in the House of Representatives, comprising 19.4 percent of Congress. While this share is nearly nine times higher than it was in 1965, it remains well below the 51.4 percent of women in the overall U.S. adult population.”Anna Brown writes in Pew, “The share of women serving in state legislatures is slightly higher than at the national level. Some 24.8 percent of state legislators are women, up from 4.5 percent in 1971. There are currently four women governors, representing Oklahoma, Oregon, New Mexico and Rhode Island, and a total of 37 women have served in this role since 1925.”Author Rebecca Sive, who wrote Every Day is Election Day: A Woman’s Guide to Winning Any Office, from the PTA to the White House,offers 10 tips for women who want to run for office here.Sive recently told Take The Lead, “Women who decide to run, care deeply, and answer the question, what do you think the change ought to be?” She adds that the increase of women leaders in public office has a natural progression. “First we march, now we make our voices heard, next step is to encourage women to engage with organizations on long term issues and building an agenda.”While conferences and events aimed at more women running for political office are erupting around the country, Galvanize Chicago, as part of the United State Of Women, was also in Chicago recently as part of a nationwide roll out to other cities.[bctt tweet=“Events aimed at more women running for office are erupting around the country #WomenInOffice” username=“takeleadwomen”]Heidi Stevens writes in the Chicago Tribune, “’It’s for all generations of women, regardless of age or education,” Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia told me. ‘Whatever you want to do to make a difference, we’ll take that activism and get you plugged in and turn it into action.‘”“’The attendees at the United State of Women Summit last year made it clear that they wanted to keep learning, connecting and advocating beyond that room — they wanted to do it in their own communities,’Jordan Brooks, managing director and chief operating officer at United State of Women, said in a statement. ‘The Galvanize Program answers that call and will empower women across the country with the tools they need to be engaged, vocal advocates in elections and public policy debates both nationally and in their own backyards,’” Stevens writes.Also honored at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition annual women’s empowerment luncheon was Angela Rye, principal and CEO of Impact Strategies.Rye told the crowd, “Slack if you want to. It will be all of our faults.”Everyone cheered.To receive content like this to help you lead, sign up for the Take The Lead newsletter each week. Learn more about Take The Lead training programs here.