Vision 2020 Conversation about Women & Leadership in Politics and Government

Panelists for today’s conversation are:

Sara Manzano-Diaz – nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Director of the Women’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor

Debbie Walsh – Director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute of Politics

Marie Wilson – Founder and President of The White House Project, creator of Take Our Daughters to Work Day

The moderators are Karen Dougherty Buchholz, VP of Administration for Comcast Corporation and Donna Cooper, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office of Policy and Planning.

Under your leadership at the Institute what have you learned from research about women and politics?

Walsh – We know that women do make a difference. Women bring a different set of life experiences, so they think of policy differently and prioritize differently. Ex. Credit card legislation that allowed women to get credit without asking father or husband. The effects of that legislation are enormous.

  • It didn’t occur to men to have child care legislation for single parents – not that they didn’t care, they just didn’t think about it
  • Women need to be asked to run, and men wake up 1 day and say I’d be a great legislature
  • Women feel less confidence in their resume when running for office
  • Women wait to run until children are older
  • On global scale, the US ranks 71st out of 189 countries in terms of the proportion of women in their national legislatures

We need to identify and recruit women to run for office. We need young women involved and tell them to aim high.

Which recommendations do you think are most important and what should Vision 2020 delegates focus on to get more women to run and get in office?

Wilson – In next 24 hours call someone from here and ask to run for XYZ.

As part of The White House Project – We need to train more people but training is just a strategy. We need to change perception of women in leadership. We need not only critical mass in leadership positions but also of diversity of women and thinking.

Where would you focus to get more women in power?

Manzano-Diaz – Raise $ for women to run

Get younger women and older women and women of color to run

Get more young people and more of everyone to vote

Walsh – redistricting will mean new seats in 2012 so this is a time of opportunity. Project are looking at women over 45 who have diverse areas of experience, like science, to run for office. We run training in over 1/2 the states to prep them to run for office.

Delegate from Hawaii – We have no human trafficking law and we need it and need help. Politics and prostitution go hand in hand. Please address.

Wilson – I want women that are working on this issue to get into the legislature. I think that’s the biggest way to bring change. Women run for office to change an issue, men run for office to be somebody

Delegate – when I ran for office I was told not to run on child care issues and such, that they weren’t sexy enough. Should be energy etc.

Manzano-Diaz – Child care issues are family issues not women’s issues. 48% of families have both parents working, so flexibility in workplace, again, is a family issue. No matter what people might want we’re not in 1950s anymore. 44 million people are caregivers – children, parents.

Wilson – when women run and bring these issues up then men running have to address too.

Walsh – these issues are also economic issues and can’t forget that. In fact, remind people of that when running.

Women need to speak with their purses – give $500 not just $5. Think sometimes what we spend on outfits or cosmetics and donate instead.

Walsh – let’s get women candidates from a wider area – think out of the box – not just lawyers…what about nurses, artists etc. They will approach problems differently which can help with innovative solutions.

Delegate – from focus groups- young women do not think that gender of a leader makes a difference. They also don’t see the number of women in politics as a problem.

Lack of consciousness is not surprising among groups that ride on shoulders of gains made by earlier generations.

Manzano-Diaz – We bring young girls to all our events to hear discussions. They learn and we learn from them.

Walsh – living in dorms during training has ruined women’s backs <laughter> but made them learn so much from the young students.

Delegate – what about campaign financing?

Wilson – Funding legislation does hurt women candidates. We can’t change it with only 17% of seats in Congress. There’s no easy answer but social media can help.

Councilwoman from Philly – Money is not dirty and women need to learn that. Without financing women cannot run.

Wilson – In our training we train women to ask for money. Once learn that skill, they can ask for anything.

Walsh  – Women can raise money for someone else but not for themselves.

real-time blogger Cherry Woodburn


About equalityinsight

Vision 2020 is a national coalition of organizations and individuals united in their commitment to achieve women’s economic and social equality. Join Vision 2020 today!
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