AAUW, Running Start Expand Elect Her Initiative to 30 College Campuses

November 6, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
10/20/2011

Media Contacts:
Katie Broendel, broendelk@aauw.org
202/785-7761

Lisa Goodnight, goodnightl@aauw.org
202/785-7738

AAUW, Running Start Expand Elect Her Initiative to 30 College Campuses

Program Aims to Increase the Number of Women Running for Office

WASHINGTON — Elect Her–Campus Women Win, the only nationwide program that trains college women to run for student government and future office, will be held on 30 campuses around the country next year. The program is a collaboration between the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and Running Start.

Elect Her reaches nearly every region in the nation, from the University of Virginia in the South to Stanford University out West. See the full list of participating schools on the AAUW website.

“We’re training women to bridge the gender leadership gap by starting early,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “By encouraging and supporting more women to be political leaders on their own campuses, we are helping to set them up for success in leadership roles later.”

“Running Start is proud to partner with AAUW in offering college women a leg up in running for student government. Programs like Elect Her–Campus Women Win are a vital first step in making women feel comfortable with political power,” said Running Start President and Founder Susannah Wellford Shakow. “We give college women the confidence, know-how, and practical skills they need to run and win in their schools. We hope their experience will encourage them to consider running for public offices when they graduate.”

According to data collected by the American Student Government Association from nearly 5,100 institutions, women make up approximately 52 percent of all student government representatives but only 43 percent of student government presidents. Currently, women only hold 17 percent of the seats in the U.S. Congress and 22 percent of the seats in state legislatures. Elect Her aims to close this long-standing political gender gap by empowering and training women to run for elective office at all levels.

Since 2008, AAUW and Running Start have collaborated to encourage college women to run for student government. The organizations developed and initiated the Elect Her–Campus Women Win training program in 2010, and the effort is already showing results for college women.

“When my campaign for Duke Student Government began, the Elect Her program truly provided helpful tools that I utilized on the campaign trail,” said Ebonie Simpson, vice president of student life at Duke University. “An overarching benefit of planning and attending Elect Her was its ability to significantly build my overall confidence in myself, my skills, and my ability to win. I knew I could run and win after Elect Her, and I am forever grateful.”

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The American Association of University Women (AAUW) advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. Since 1881, AAUW has been one of the nation’s leading voices promoting education and equity for women and girls. AAUW has a nationwide network of more than 100,000 members and donors, 1,000 branches, and 500 college/university institutional partners. Since AAUW’s founding 130 years ago, members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day — educational, social, economic, and political. AAUW’s commitment to educational equity is reflected in its public policy advocacy, community programs, leadership development, conventions and conferences, national partnerships, and international connections.

Running Start is a nonprofit organization that brings young women to politics so that they are knowledgeable about the process, invested in the outcome, and interested in participating as elected leaders. Our programs educate young women and girls about the importance of politics and imbue them with the skills they need to be leaders so that they can get the “running start” they need to achieve greater political power. With an earlier start in politics, women will climb higher on the leadership ladder, allowing more women to share in the decision-making power of this country. Find out more at Running Start’s website.

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