Women are underrepresented in government. WIRE wants to change that.
Women make up more than 50% of the population
But hold less than 25% of elected offices
On every level of government and politics in this country, women are underrepresented:
On the national level, women comprise only 20% of the US Congress.
Only 24% of state legislatures, 25% of statewide executive level positions, and 19% of mayoral positions across the country are held by women.
The numbers for California (and San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties) are no better.
California’s state legislature is 21% female.
While the numbers are disappointing and the challenge seems insurmountable, it is not. By focusing on recruiting and identifying qualified, interested, civic-minded women in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, WIRE is developing a robust pipeline of female candidates who are positioned to take leadership roles at all levels today and are ready for new opportunities that present themselves tomorrow. WIRE can help bridge the gap between thinking about pursuing public office and knowing how to do it.
WHY DON'T WOMEN RUN? BECAUSE THEY DON'T RUN.
Study after study confirms that, when women run for office, they perform just as well as their male counterparts. No differences emerge in women and men’s fundraising receipts, vote totals, or electoral success. Yet women remain severely underrepresented in U.S. political institutions. Why?
Because they choose not to run.
By addressing the primary reasons women don’t seek public office, WIRE intends to change that. Here are the top reasons more women don’t seek public office and how WIRE is addressing the challenge.
WOMEN DON'T SELF-NOMINATE. -- Women generally seek office after being asked to run, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.In contrast, men are likely to say that the decision to run was entirely their own idea.
WIRE’s Solution -- WIRE addresses this problem in three ways. First, WIRE is building an network of skilled volunteers focused on identifying qualified female candidates for office. Second, WIRE maintains a database of all elected and appointed positions in each city in the these two counties, including information about when the positions will be open. And third, we recruit women and then assist them to apply and/or run and other logistics to help female candidates get started. According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University: “[W]omen legislators are more likely to say that they decided to seek elective office after receiving the suggestion to run, whereas men are more likely to say that the decision to run was entirely their idea.” Since women seldom decide to run on their own, our first task is to actively recruit them.
TRADITIONAL PARTY OR NOMINATING INSTITUTIONS OVERLOOK WOMEN -- Because many of the political institutions responsible for recommending a run for public office are male-dominated, women are often enough considered for these smaller appointed offices which help candidates build their political skills and network.
WIRE’s Solution -- WIRE is building our own pipeline. Across San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, there are over a thousand appointed and elected positions ranging from city councils and schools boards to commissions on parks or the environment. WIRE is committed to finding female candidates for the full range of public positions. WIRE will identify these candidates, recruit them and work together with them so that women can enter the governmental decision-making process and build their political skills and network just like the men do.
WOMEN DON'T THINK THEY ARE QUALIFIED -- Studies show that while women and men may have the same qualifications, women are more likely to doubt their readiness for public office.
WIRE’s Solution -- WIRE introduces candidates to a network of appointed and elected women who can share their experience in overcoming self-doubt. Most importantly, our members will help women better articulate why their experiences make them the ideal candidates for particular positions. Additionally, WIRE aims to enable candidates to build their political skills by applying for appointed office or perhaps running for a less competitive position in the community. Appointed office can be a significant step toward building the confidence, the political experience and the network necessary to launch a future campaign for a more competitive position. With more and more women in public office in our counties, our pipeline of support continues to grow.
MANY WOMEN REACT NEGATIVELY TO TODAY'S POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT -- The highly partisan and blistering personal attacks many female candidates have endured discourages many women from seeking public office. Additionally, concerns about their ability to raise the necessary funds or leverage key political networks cause women to be reluctant to get involved.
WIRE’s Solution -- There has never been a more important time for women to seek public office at all levels. Our public institutions appear unable to adequately address the significant challenges our communities face. Women are uniquely capable of changing this political climate. WIRE aims to encircle female candidates in a network of resources to meet every challenge along the way to public office, including how to apply for appointed positions, how find volunteers, how to raise funds, how to get the candidates message out to voters, and how to build support, among other crucial skills. WIRE seeks to be a resource for all women seeking public office.