The Law Weekly reached out to affinity group leaders to write for us in a feature we are calling “Spotlight.” Our goal is to give leaders a regular platform to start conversations about issues they are facing, to reflect on the events of August 11th and 12th, and to educate the UVa Law community about their diverse experiences so that we can become better allies to our fellow classmates.
If you or your organization would like to be featured, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kendall Burchard '19
Vice President, Virginia Law Women
Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to a national office, began her tenure in the House of Representatives exactly one hundred years ago. Since then, 319 women have represented their states and districts in the House, Senate, or both.1 In our current Congress, 105 of the 535 members of Congress are women. Twenty-one serve in the Senate, and eighty-four serve in the House. Sixty-one women of color have served in Congress to date, and thirty-eight are serving in 2017. In high school, boys and girls report almost an equal interest in politics.2 Then in college, statistically, women’s political ambitions begin to fade.3 Years later, although most women are equally likely to have the same amount of relevant political experience in “feeder” careers as their male colleagues, only 57 percent of women feel qualified to run, as opposed to 73 percent of men.4
The equalizer? Encouragement.
Women respond just as positively as men when encouraged to run for office. But they are less likely to receive this encouragement than their male counterparts, starting in college and extending far beyond.5 Allow me to make up for some lost time—YOU should run. And on Saturday, we’ll tell you how.
Virginia Law Women is excited to partner with the Women in Policy at the Batten School of Public Policy, Women of Color, Feminist Legal Forum, Virginia Law Republicans, and Virginia Law Democrats to bring Running Start’s “Elect Her” to Caplin Pavilion on October 21 at 1 PM. Elect Her is a three-hour crash course in how to run for office and how to support those who run. Last spring, VLW and Women in Policy welcomed founder and CEO of Running Start Susannah Wellford ’98 back to the Law School to address barriers to women running for office. Wellford first asked how many in attendance had considered running for office. As hands began to go up, Wellford’s shock quickly gave way to excitement. “I’ve never had this happen,” she said. “I’ve never had so many women in a room admit they wanted to run. We’ve got a lot to talk about.”
The discussion continues on Saturday. Wellford and her team have specifically tailored Elect Her’s curriculum to help an enthusiastic audience recognize opportunities to serve their communities in the future. After brief introductions, the day will include a crash course in networking, fundraising, and campaigning. After a campaign simulation, we’ll hear from a panel of those who have done it—Delegate Marcia Price, Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor, Future Majority Project Director at the Republican State Leadership Committee Neri Martinez, and Delegate Lashrecse Aird will offer a first-hand account on what it’s like to run for office and what it means to serve the public. The panelists will focus on what it is like to run for office as a woman—not as a member of a particular political party. This a bipartisan event intended for everyone, regardless of political persuasion, sex, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, or other classification.
When will there be enough women in Congress and in other elected offices? To borrow from Justice Ginsburg’s refined wisdom: “When I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court] and I say, ‘When there are nine,’ people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”
You look like a politician, and we’d love to see you run. Get your name on the ballot. Join us on Saturday.
Check in for Elect Her starts at 12:30 PM on Saturday, October 21 in Caplin Pavilion. Events begin sharply at 1 PM. Programming concludes at 4, with a wine and cheese reception to follow. Please see Facebook event or Law Street Journal to RSVP.
1 Center for American Women & Politics, Women in the U.S. Congress 2017, Rutgers (2017), http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/women-us-congress-2017.
2 Janie Boschma, Why women don’t run for office, Politico (June 12, 2017 5:00 AM), http://www.politico.com/interactives/2017/women-rule-politics-graphic/