Erin Loos Cutraro knows a lot of amazing women. One thing always bothered her, though: None of the amazing women she knew were running for elected office. She wanted to change that, so she launched She Should Run, a non-partisan organization focused on increasing the number of women running for one of the more than 500,000 elected offices in the United States.
“I’m constantly encouraging people around me to run for office. They’ll always look at me and be like, ‘Come on. None of us have any time. I don’t even have time to take a shower! What are you talking about, run for office?’ It just gives us even greater purpose in the work we do at She Should Run,” Erin says. “ … We have to show the examples of how incredible women leaders are pulling this off.”
She Should Run was founded in 2008 as a way to tackle the gender gap within politics. The organization was built to fill the void in resources for women looking to run for office for the first time. After all, Erin found that a barrier existed: Women were not being recruited to run for office at the same rate as men. “We wanted to create a safe space for women to see what was possible,” Erin says.
What started with a simple “Ask A Woman To Run” program has since led to research about other barriers women face in the electoral process – like sexism and political giving. Then last year before Election Day, the organization launched the She Should Run Incubator – where community meets resources looking for women coming to politics for the first time.
Now, She Should Run has encouraged nearly 40,000 women to run for office through its efforts and is in the process of helping more than 11,000 women who have indicated interest in preparing for a political office.
In episode 48 of I Want Her Job: The Podcast, Host Polina Selyutin and Founder Brianne Perleberg speak with Erin about gender bias in politics, why more women should run for elected office and dive deep on the research She Should Run has teamed up to conduct along with others. And all three women share why they think more women should run. Maybe you should, too?! In fact, Erin says, She Should Run’s research shows that when women run, they win at the same rate men do!
Topics Discussed In Today’s Show:
- #Goals: She Should Run has one main goal: to encourage a woman to run, then support her to the point where she officially decides to run. The organization has a unique and important role in building the talent pool of women running for office. Ultimately, the organization aims to one day see 50% of all elected offices held by women.
- Wait, Me?!: There are two challenges, Erin says, that she finds often create the most resistance when it comes to a woman running for elected office. First, a woman’s response might stem from a lack of confidence and be something like, “I couldn’t do that. I don’t know enough about fill-in-the-blank policy issue. I wouldn’t be able to do that.” The second, Erin says, is a challenge of practicality. As a mom of two young children herself, Erin understands making time for other commitments isn’t always easy. But, she stresses, there are important elected offices at all levels in our communities, and some only require a few hours a week. “Find a match for the time you do have to give,” Erin says.
- Let’s Talk Sexism: When She Should Run decided to take a step down the research trail, they looked at what could add value and what information was currently missing. They tackled the topic of sexism on the campaign trail, and namely, what a female candidate should do when asked a question with a double standard on the campaign trail.
- Double Standard: Imagine this: A candidate is asked how she could possibly be an effective leader when she has three kids at home. Well, that’s not likely a question that would be asked of her male counterpart, right? Just a few election cycles ago, Erin says, conventional wisdom given was to pivot the response, and move on. A candidate was advised not to draw attention to such a question, as it would come across as complaining or whining.
- Standing Up: What the She Should Run research found, however, is that it’s actually best to address the question head on by saying, “I don’t think you’d ask the same question of my male opponent,” and then pivot by saying, “I think what the voters really care about …” Responses like this even saw a candidates likability increase in the eyes of voters, with voters citing, “If this candidate stands up for herself, then she’ll stand up for me, too.”
- Incubating Success: Intentional with their timing, She Should Run launched its incubator program in October 2016. Although the organization is nonpartisan, it was aiming to launch prior to last year’s presidential election, as polling was suggesting nominee Hillary Clinton would win. It was a big milestone, and Erin worried that once reached, many would think, “mission accomplished,” but in reality, there would still be a long way to go.
- On A Mission: Then came the election result few were expecting, and the floodgates opened, Erin said. She Should Run had a research-based, aggressive goal of signing up 400 women for the incubator by the end of 2016. Instead, they closed out the year with more than 5,500 women involved in the incubator. They then closed June at more than 11,000 women signed up!
- How To Get Involved: Erin says there are three ways you can support the mission of getting more women into elected offices in the United States. First, ask a woman you know to run for office. (Psst! You can give her a hint here.) Don’t assume she knows she would make a great elected official. Second, think about running yourself or getting more involved. Finally, think about how to plant the seed of what is possible in younger women. (We recommend you share this interview with her!)
- Take Action: She Should Run announced a goal in July to get 250,000 women to run for elected office by 2030. Whether you’re interested in running for office, or know someone who should, you can get involved here.
- Donate: Consider supporting She Should Run with a donation.
- Connect: Follow She Should Run on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Then, give Erin a follow on Twitter, too!