News Clip: Kendra Horn on female candidates

“We need you. We need that perspective.”

The message about women running for office is clear – do it.

According to the Center for American Women and Politics, 592 women overall signed up to run for the U.S. House, Senate or governor. Of those, 178 have already won primaries and as of early August, 197 were still waiting for their primaries.

Those numbers are up from 2012, the last peak for women running for office.

But why?

Aryanna Berringer, who is on the board for Women for the Future of Pittsburgh, said it isn’t just because of the 2016 presidential election.

Aryanna Berringer
Aryanna Berringer

“I really think it is far more than Donald Trump. Don’t let anybody tell you that women are running because Donald Trump was elected. That’s not true,” she said. “It has been a slow and steady build.”

The Challenges

When Berringer ran for office, she was 29 and a mother of two – a topic that came up frequently on the campaign trail.

“I had my youngest on the campaign trail with me. Oftentimes, Democrats and Republicans alike would say, ‘You’re a young mom, who is going to watch your kids?’ I would say, ‘They have a dad,’” she said. “We have a support structure. I don’t see anyone else [asking] male candidates with young children, 'Who is watching their children?'”

For Kendra Horn, former executive director of Sally’s List and Women Lead Oklahoma, finding women to step up to the plate and use their voices can be hard.

Kendra Horn
Kendra Horn

“Women are less likely to self-nominate to run for office,” Horn said. “They are less likely to be sought out.”

Horn said women are held to a different standard.

“We make demands of female candidates that we don’t of male candidates,” she said.

“Women are required to prove they are qualified, and men are presumed to be qualified. Women have to show their leadership ability.”

Even so, of the 592 women running, 217 lost their primaries or dropped out of the race before primary day.

Finding their confidence

“Women are inspired to run for the same reasons that men are inspired to run,” Berringer said. “Women look at it and go, ‘I can make a difference.’ If they are running for city council, they still think that these particular issues are affecting their families.”

Berringer and Horn said for men, running for office is about power. But Berringer said for women, it’s all about community.

Drawing from their instincts, women want to fix the issues plaguing their communities.

“When they are serving in an elected office, there is a lot evidence, [that] they are more likely to reach across the aisle,” Horn said. “They get more legislation passed. They are more likely to work collaboratively. They are extremely great legislators.”

But there is still room for adding voice and perspective in the political process. Of the 107 women currently serving in the 115th Congress, 18 are Black, nine are Asian American and 10 are Latina. None are Native American.

Despite the hurdles women face running for office, there is hope for the future.

“I would say, you know what, live your life and do the things that you find passion [for] and that you find important, that you find you are contributing in some kind of way,” Berringer said. “If that leads you to run for political office one day, do it. We need you. We need that perspective.”

Original article by Natalie Newport: