According to a study from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, in 2015, women hold almost 2,000 political offices at the state and national levels. On Jan. 21, women at Weber State University learned how they could become a part of that growing demographic.
Sen. Luz Robles-Escamilla spoke to students at the “Elect Her” event sponsored by the WSU Women’s Center, encouraging female students to run for office. Escamilla reinforced the importance of women running for political office.
She offered personal accounts of her journey to district senator and words of encouragement. Escamilla also stressed the importance of having a different perspective than that of a primarily male-dominated field in politics.
Escamilla urges women to run for office, despite long-held gender roles. She believes that if a women wanted to run for office and also start a family, she can do both. In 2014, Escamilla was pregnant while running in the U.S. Congressional District race.
“It was interesting because of the comments we got, especially women’s reactions,” Escamilla said.
Elect Her is designed to encourage women to run for student government. This event was hosted by the Women’s Center in hopes to raise awareness.
Carol McNamara, director of the Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service, kicked off the event by reminiscing about her time with the late Utah governor Olene Walker. She offered advice to women who want to run for office, which she learned from the late governor, and encouraged students to be leaders like Walker.
The event was facilitated by Melissa Richmond, vice president of Running Start. She studied political science at BYU and later graduated from George Washington University Law School. Richmond explains that the Elect Her training began in 2009 and training is offered at 50 campuses.
“We do the training because when women run for office, they’re just as likely as men to win,” Richmond said. “But women don’t run as much.”
Richmond explains that, through research, women tend to lose interest in running for office around high school or college. Elect Her has taken the initiative to offer women in this age group a chance to learn more about running for office before they lose that interest. Richmond hopes that Elect Her will double to 100 campuses in 2017.
Noor Mouhammad, a Weber State senior and Human Resource major, attended the event last year. She explains that seeing women being represented in organizations like WSU Student Association inspired her to get involved in WSUSA as well.
“I feel strongly about empowering women. Giving them the options they might not know they have and the opportunity that they think they don’t have,” Mouhammad said.