On Wednesday afternoon, Running Start was thrilled to have Virginia congressional candidate Krystal Ball speak at the September Path 2 Politics seminar, “Running (and Serving) with Children.” Krystal, the mother of 18-month-old, addressed the challenges involved in developing and maintaining a political career while balancing family life and responsibilities, opening her presentation with the disclaimer, “I’ll be the first to tell you: I’m no superwoman.” As she continued sharing her experiences, however, I think she had a hard time convincing her audience of that. As a 27 year-old-woman, Krystal’s resume is already beyond impressive. Having embarked on an impressive congressional campaign, started her own company with her husband, worked in a number of countries in the Middle East and started a family all before her 10-year high school reunion is truly remarkable. And her modesty about it all is equally so.
Addressing the 40-some young professional women of D.C. who came to the event, Krystal emphasized that although running for office as a young mother is not the right choice for everyone, it is important for young women to realize that it is an option. Every young woman knows her limits as well as what it takes to make herself feel fulfilled in the world. Young women with family obligations who have political aspirations shouldn’t be discouraged from running for office simply because they don’t fit the mold of the typical middle-aged, male politician. In fact, it’s absolutely crucial that these women run because they don’t fit the mold and because there are so few young women and women with young families in Congress. After all, with Congress comprised as it is today, who is going to insist that regulations be created to prevent baby bottles from being made with harmful toxins? Who’s going to tackle the growing issue childhood obesity? Who’s going to acknowledge that eating disorders are an enormous problem affecting millions of our country’s young men and women?
A number of studies have shown that companies that include young women in executive roles perform better than those that don’t. It stands to reason, as Krystal pointed out, that so would Congress. It isn’t about men or women being better lawmakers, it’s about representation. Young women have different experiences, different priorities and different perspectives than do other demographics and can therefore be better substantively represented by someone who understands and shares that perspective.
I, for one, am excited to watch Krystal’s campaign as it unfolds in the coming year. Her candidacy provides an important model for the many young women who have political aspirations but are unsure how to reconcile a career in politics with the raising a family and is sure to inspire a new wave of young women candidates.
–Allison Dunatchik, Intern Fall 2009