Women In Politics

2018 – An Amazing Year for Powerful Women in Politics

Woman holding sign in crowd that says Volting is my Super PowerWhen women and girls are empowered to participate fully in society, everyone benefits. ~ Melinda Gates

In 2018, women across the country were elected to a record number of local and statewide offices. The “Pink Wave” also swept across the nation in midterm elections that carried young women and veterans to victory in Senate and governors’ races and brought some major breakthroughs for women of color. Some of the big winners of the year were seasoned leaders, like Michigan governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer, and Kansas governor-elect Laura Kelly. But many of the toughest House races were won by political neophytes taking their first steps into electoral politics.

The “firsts” this year included: 

  • Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Iham Omar of Minnesota became the first and second Muslim women elected to Congress.
  • Deb Haaland of Arizona and Sharice Davids of Kansas became the first two Native American women elected to Congress. Davids also made history as the first openly LGBT woman of color in Congress.
  • Ayanna Pressley became Massachusetts’ first black congresswoman.
  • New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old progressive, won in a shocking upset.
  • Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia became Texas’s first two Latina congresswomen.
  • Lou Leon Guerrero became the first woman governor of Guam.
  • Angie Craig became the first openly lesbian mother in Congress and the first openly LGBT member of Congress from Minnesota.
  • Jahana Hayes, a former schoolteacher, became Connecticut’s first black congresswomen.
  • Young Kim of California became the first Korean American woman in Congress.
  • Marsha Blackburn became Tennessee’s first woman elected to the Senate.
  • Janet Mills in Maine, Kim Reynolds in Iowa, and Kristi Noem in South Dakota became the first female governors for their states.

The 2018 election cycle was also the first following the defeat of the first woman presidential candidate of a major party. In this cycle, many women saw a need to change the status quo and volunteered to run without being recruited. They also ran differently. Instead of putting on the power suit and spouting resume talking points, they featured their children in ads, offered personal testimony about sexual harassment and abuse, and opened up about family struggles, drug abuse and debt. Their openness connected with many facing the same struggles, and their authenticity paid off.

According to figures compiled by the Center for American Progress in November 2018:

  • A record number – at least 126 women so far ­– have won seats in the US Congress (three races remain uncalled by the Associated Press).
  • A historic high of 43 women of color were elected to Congress, along with at least three who identify as LGBTQ.
  • The number of women serving in state legislatures will exceed 2,000 for the first time ever.
  • The number of women governors rose by 50 percent, from six to nine.

More Gains to be Made

These are exciting numbers and historic wins, but we clearly still have a significant leadership gap. As of January 2019, women will still represent less than one fourth of members of Congress, both in the House and the Senate. Although they will hold 28 percent of seats in state legislatures, women hold only 18 percent of governorships, and, as of August 2018, are less than a quarter of the mayors of America’s 100 largest cities. To be clear, women make up slightly more than one half the population.

We must continue our support of women doing the hard work of holding elected office and encourage women to run and especially to run again. One defeat means nothing in a political career. EMILY’s List, VoteRunLead, and She Should Run all reported a huge surge in women interested in running in this cycle. These women who mustered their courage demonstrated that women are truly ready to lead, and that the people are ready to elect them in their communities, states, and nation. We need to celebrate these women who are paving the way, and help others follow their lead.

We can also encourage and inspire our daughters, granddaughters, and young women in our communities. There are a number of organizations that will make good use of our time, talent and treasure. For example, Girls Inc. has chapters nationwide and works to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers has an initiative dedicated to making women’s public leadership visible to the next generation, with programs set up nationwide, called Teach a Girl to LeadTM. The Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life at University of Missouri St. Louis prepares college women and has even hosted a Girls’ Summit for middle schoolers.  Ask around in your community for opportunities to mentor and engage at a local level, and if you don’t find any, join with other women to start one.

Ultimately, we want 2018’s “Pink Wave” to close the leadership gap and make our voices heard on every level. Women leaders change the game. We do indeed need at least half our leaders to be women, and by working together we can make it happen. Just think how that will change our country and the world!

Push Her Forward and Vote Her In

Political Activist for Women

Rebecca Sive

Rebecca Sive was raised to work hard, get educated and in turn, teach others. Most of all she was raised by parents who thought it was important to advocate for democratic values and help get people elected to create equal opportunities and fairness for all. Since the 2016 election, and the subsequent Women’s March, Rebecca has been inspired to increase her advocacy for women and write her newest book, Vote Her In: Your Guide to Electing Our First Woman President.

#VOTEHERIN

Convinced that the time is now, Rebecca points out that a woman already got elected to the presidency by the popular vote. A fact she uses to make the case that the American people, both men and women, are ready for a woman president. In Vote Her In, she helps women – especially those who did not vote for the woman for president – see how they actually voted against their own interests.
Rebecca explains that the road to better health care, improved child care and education for all is by electing a woman president. Women understand the need for these things, which is why it just doesn’t make sense to vote for someone who does not address the issues in their policies. She also explains the ways that a woman president would help women reach parity sooner, first by demonstrating the ways that women make great leaders, and second through policies to promote equal pay and status in the workplace.

“When A Woman Leads, Everyone Wins.”

Women are proving that they can lead every day. In fact, as a result of their leadership, companies are more profitable, and policies are more beneficial to all. When Dr. Nancy asked Rebecca who might run for president, Rebecca pointed out that women have been running and winning for years. Although only one-fifth of the Senate are women and there are only six governors, there are a number of women who have executive experience. She predicted that after the 2018 mid-terms, a pool of women would start to throw their hats into the ring. Early next year, they will begin fundraising and announcing their intentions for 2020. She predicted that regardless of where you stand ideologically or politically, you will have a choice and begin to see women leaders speaking out.
In the second part of Vote Her In Rebecca encourages women to get behind the woman they choose and help her get elected. This how-to section of the book gives readers advice and direction for how to engage with the political process and push that deserving woman toward the presidency. Rebecca says women do it all the time. We lift each other up and help one another achieve our goals. We can elect a woman president and the country is very ready for it.
Listen to this interview for more inspiring comments and insights. Check out Rebecca’s website and get her book—ready for pre-order right now. Use #VOTEHERIN whenever possible and get this movement moving. If all of us push together we can Vote Her In!

Speak Your Truth with Personal Passion

Rabbi Laurie Coskey

Women should speak their truth about whatever incites their personal passion, urges Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Ed.D., whether that is the environment, the homeless, prejudice against various groups—in whatever way you can. It may mean joining the Rotary in your community (Laurie is a long-time member); you might join the PTA; you could volunteer at a victim’s center. Whatever stirs your passion, reach out to others and work together to make positive change. As a social justice advocate, Laurie’s lifework is to obtain fairness and dignity for everyone and she works tirelessly to achieve it for people who don’t have enough power to do it for themselves..
Her commitment to improving the lives of those in need is inspired by her Jewish background, her chosen vocation of rabbi, and her belief that the greatest gift we have to give one another is our love. In that regard, she serves on various boards in San Diego including the Interfaith Worker Justice. Her work there inspired her powerful TEDx Talk about the San Diego interfaith clergy who reached out to officials to stop disappearing immigrants and their families in 2007.

To Create Real Change, We Must Change the Systems.

Laurie realized the importance of changing systems, which she chose as the subject for her doctoral study. She continues to win victories for the issues she is passionate about through negotiation and teamwork. As an advocate, she learned not to lead the people who need her advocacy, but instead to walk beside them and help amplify their voices.
In this interview, she tells a heroic story about janitorial workers in office buildings organizing for better working conditions. The women who do the work are often single mothers who may speak little or no English and they work for male supervisors at night, who can control them through rewards or penalties based on sexual favors. These courageous, powerless women overcame their fear and stood up and spoke out. They do not participate in the #MeToo movement, but the activists who are helping them did appear at the Grammy Awards this year. Things are changing, Laurie says, one squeaky wheel at a time.

Our Lives Will Change When Women Become Legislators

Dr. Nancy and Rabbi Laurie share their concern that women’s perspective is often ignored. The male perspective has created our current system and to change it women must get involved. Besides getting involved in our communities, Laurie encourages women to run for public office, while admitting that it is a huge commitment to serve in elected office. Things really will not change until we make different policies, which women can do by winning elected office at their community, state or national level. She stresses that with so few women at the top of our organizations, it’s time for women not just to integrate, but to lead. That is when we will see significant change that affects everyone’s daily lives.
Listen to this interview for more wonderful stories about Laurie’s life and experiences. She invites anyone who would like a personal rabbi (Jewish or not) to contact her via twitter, Facebook or Linked-In. She is happy to listen and reply. Check out this news video about Laurie’s work in San Diego for more inspiration about what a difference community involvement can make.

We’re Still Marching and Making Our Voices Heard!


Right now, the next chapter of the women’s movement is being written – and it’s up to each and every one of us to help author it by fighting for what we believe in – Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
In 2017, on post-Inauguration Saturday, 4.6 million marched for women’s rights as human rights in 642 cities on every continent on the globe. One year later, women recognized that anniversary, and once again took to the streets to make their voices heard. Proving that there is power in numbers, hundreds of thousands of women gathered in major cities and small towns around the globe.
Last year women marched to express their outrage in what The New Yorker described as a, “shell-shocked solidarity.” With hundreds of issues among them, headlines generally spoke to the core issues surrounding women’s rights, with messages as diverse as the marchers.

Power To The Polls


This year, U.S. activities focused on a power-to-the-polls theme, with a focus on registering voters and encouraging women to run for office in 2018, and especially in the November midterm elections. Women’s March organizers launched a #PowerToThePolls campaign, which focuses on combating voter suppression and making sure that all people who are eligible to vote can easily exercise that right. Reuters reported that March organizers hope to build on the energy felt by Trump opponents after his surprise election victory and channel it into gains for progressive candidates in November’s midterm elections, and they used the weekend to work towards their goal of registering one million new voters. The campaign was timely as events took place against a backdrop of political dysfunction, with the federal government newly shutdown.

Pine Island ROAR Rally in Bokeelia, Florida


Nationwide, women and their families promised to use their votes to shift the course of American government during the mid-term elections. And in many areas where there wasn’t an official march, women organized and took to the streets as part of the #PowerToThePolls campaign to get people registered to vote and use their voices to shake up the status quo.

And We Marched…

Every event and gathering around the world had its moments, as energized crowds continued to work towards change. In Los Angeles, Viola Davis explained that her “testimony is one of poverty” and “one of being sexually assaulted.” She continued: “I know that every single day, when I think of that, I know that the trauma of those events are still with me today. And that’s what drives me to the voting booth. That’s what allows me to listen to the women who are still in silence.”
In New York, 23-year-old singer Halsey delivered a free-verse poem recounting her experiences with assault and feelings of powerlessness. Her poem closed with strong words of hope and encouragement that triggered an outpouring of support and gratitude from around the world. “We are not free until all of us are free. So, love your neighbor, please treat her kindly. Ask her story and then shut up and listen. Black, Asian, poor, wealthy, trans, cis, Muslim, Christian. Listen, listen and then yell at the top of your lungs. Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues. For the people who had to grow up way too young. There is work to be done. There are songs to be sung. Lord knows there’s a war to be won.”
In Washington, D.C. Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez emphasized the number of women running on the party’s ticket in November. “If the Congress, if the White House, if the governorships across America had more women like I see here today, we would be a much better America.”

We Marched With Our Male Allies

For many men, this year’s #MeToo movement raised greater awareness of the fight for gender equality and led them to participate more fully in the events. In Las Vegas, men at Sunday’s march said they felt an obligation to speak out about their gender’s treatment of women and stand beside women as allies. That’s good news because leading into the 2017 Women’s March, some men weren’t sure what role, if any, they should play in the day’s events. Men were “slow to support” the march, Washington Post writer Michael Alison Chandler wrote at the time, because they worried that attending a demonstration led by women would make them seem “unmasculine.”

Pine Island ROAR Rally in Bokeelia, Florida

Will the March Be as Effective?

There was some concern leading into the weekend’s events that the movement that began with the Women’s March one year ago lacked the cohesiveness to move forward. Experts speculated that there were too many special interests and too many different messages to truly affect change. However, what’s important to remember is that it has brought change and done what it was established to do. One year ago, the Women’s March aimed to start a movement of women from all walks of life who would continue their activism long after they had gone home. In many ways, that goal has been realized.
One year ago, thousands of women threw themselves into activism for the first time in their lives, and the march events provided a rare chance to build a network of like-minded people. The networks that were formed in 2017 have grown and expanded, and the women involved remain active.
Jo Reger, a professor of sociology at Oakland University in Michigan was quoted in the New York Times as saying that the feminist movement, like other important social movements, has always had people coming together and then breaking apart. “We think it looks so chaotic and full of factions and what it really looks like is every other social movement. Often those factions end up coming back together later on.”
Whether you marched, registered voters, or supported your sisters on the street in some other way, it’s time to turn our focus to the polls, register voters and support women preparing to run. It is at the polls that we can truly affect change and create a world where women and men don’t have to march in protest, but instead live in a world where equality is the standard, and women are safe in the workplace, and in the community. Change starts now. Let’s work together. To make it happen.

2018 To Be Another “Year of the Woman”

“You have to act as if it were possible to radically change the world. And you have to do it all the time.”Angela Davis
While 2017 was a tough year, it was also one of a great deal of progress. It was in 2017 that women made their voices heard in unprecedented numbers. From the Women’s March on Washington to the floodgates opened with the #MeToo movement, women are proving that they are no longer willing to remain silent, and the momentum of change is fast and far reaching.
TIME Magazine named “The Silence Breakers” as the magazine’s Person of the Year, in a nod to the women coming forward to accuse powerful men of sexual harassment and assault, and not only for the global conversation, but the movement they began. Stephanie Zacharek, Eliana Dockterman, and Haley Sweetland Edwards write in TIME that, “This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist. They’ve had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can’t afford to lose. They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along. They’ve had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women.”
While the fight for equality, justice and dignity for women started with the suffragettes, the events of this past year have made a similar impact, and women are taking their message to the streets, the internet, and the workplace. Retired US Senator Barbara Boxer writes in USA Today, “As we say goodbye to the chaos of 2017 and its seemingly never-ending turmoil about…well everything…I believe it is possible, maybe even probable, that we will see 2018 turn into another Year of the Woman.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein agrees and has also been quoted as saying that 2018 could be another big year for women. Predicting that female candidates could sweep elections across the country, she recently told party officials at the California Democratic Party Executive Board meeting that, “Based on what I see out there that we are going to have another Year of the Woman.”
“What it means is that we have an opportunity to really turn this next year into a year of change affecting women,” she added.
So how can we best position ourselves to help make that change? Here are a few places we could start.
Support the women speaking out. As Melinda Gates writes in TIME, “2017 is proving to be a watershed moment for women in the workplace and beyond. Instead of being bullied into retreat or pressured into weary resignation, we are raising our voices—and raising them louder than ever before. What’s more, the world is finally listening.” Right now, women are feeling emboldened by the actions of others to step up and say, “me too” and to share their stories. Many high-profile men facing sexual misconduct allegations right now aren’t denying them. The allegations aren’t limited to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, or the hallowed halls of Congress. The problem is far more wide-reaching than one man, or even one industry. This has impacted women in every industry and every walk of life, and is finally experiencing the spotlight of public attention and, more importantly, action, it deserves. Right now, we need to listen to the women who are speaking out, and create environments that are safe for all women and men.
Support the women running for office. EMILY’s List, VoteRunLead, and She Should Run have all reported a huge surge in women interested in running for office. As these women muster their courage and support and take the first steps to run for office, it demonstrates that this truly is a woman’s time to lead. It’s important in this time of unprecedented female engagement that we support the women who are running, and those who have run, perhaps already won, already hold office, and are serving in their communities, states, and nation on every level. We need to celebrate the women who have paved the way, and support those who prepare to follow their lead.
Make your voice heard. Whether in the workplace or in the community, it’s up to all of us to recognize what makes us effective communicators, learn from our differences, and create a supportive, collaborative environment where women and men have equal floor time. As women, we can’t unlock our full potential in the workplace, in the community, or in our homes until we gain recognition for our ideas and build a world where equality isn’t the exception, but the rule.
Work towards gender equality. The solution to much of what has been coming out of the #MeToo movement could be solved by having more women in leadership positions. The problems we face today – from our local communities to the workplace, and the global stage – require diverse leaders who have a variety of skill sets. Women bring the additional skills needed, as well as a different perspective to drive effective solutions. In short, female leaders change the game. By recognizing that we do indeed need more women in leadership, and working together to help women gain confidence and the skills they need to overcome barriers and reach their goals, we truly can change the world into one of 50/50 parity, where both genders value each contribution and shed the harmful effects of living in a male-dominated culture.
In 2017 we have seen an unbelievable progress towards gender equality, however, we will still need to continue to fight and work hard to claim equal rights for women. That is going to take all of us working together, and joining forces with the women and men in our lives who, like us, feel that equality shouldn’t be a lofty goal, but a way a life.

Amplify Women’s Voices Around the World

Lauren Anderson


International Geopolitical Consultant Lauren Anderson is excited about the huge world-wide momentum that’s building of women reaching out to help one another across the boundaries of professions and countries  in the many organizations where she serves. Driven by the need to be of service to others and the benefits of justice and equality in our world, Lauren has journeyed through a 29-year distinguished career as an FBI executive, both in high-risk domestic and foreign service, overseeing anti-terrorism and FBI relations with 24 different countries to present-day global efforts on many fronts to empower and help women and girls become leaders in their chosen professions. Lauren serves on  numerous boards and in many capacities, including service as a public speaker and expert with the Women’s Media Center , as Global Ambassador with Vital Voices, Leadership Ambassador with Take the Lead, and  more.
While in the FBI, she saw an enormous amount of talent not being used. In fact, cultures in many countries actually held women back from contributing their skills and talents. While she saw the limitations, she couldn’t dream of all the possibilities. When she became a fellow with the International Women’s Forum, she says it exploded her world open. For the first time, she was in an environment with women from all sectors and many nations from around the world. She saw expertise, knowledge and sharing that could go beyond what she had considered with her background in law enforcement, intelligence and diplomacy.

Vital Voices Partners with Leading Women to Make Their Vision A Reality.

Founded in 1991 by Hillary Clinton and others, Vital Voices is made up of powerful bi-partisan women. Lauren says that Vital Voices identifies and works with women leaders around the world. They started where women had no capacity, in the Middle East, Africa and south Asia, regardless of their sector. Their programs range from something as basic as how to write a business plan to the global ambassador program that Lauren is part of. They select women who are at a tipping point in their profession and pair them with another successful woman. She says that the beauty of Vital Voices is they cross sectors and match people with their skill sets. For example, she currently is coaching a Somali obstetrician-gynecologist, a Filipino businesswoman and a woman in Beirut who makes cookies, though her own sector is much different.

Red Dot Foundation-Safe City Identifies Hot Spots to Protect Women.

Lauren was just asked to be the board chair for Safe City in India. The program was started by Elsa DeSilva after the horrific rape, torture and ultimate death of the young Indian doctor in 2012. Compelled to do something about the violence and sexual harassment in the streets that women go through, she and a couple of friends created the The Red Dot Foundation–Safe City. Lauren says that when it was formed, it was the only crowd-sourced and crowd-funded platform where women could share their stories. Now, Safe City has collected 50,000 separate stories of women who have experienced everything from sexual harassment to rape. The analytics this collection is providing has helped the police identify hot spots within 4 cities in India where they can increase coverage to protect women.
The Safe City model is so successful that it has expanded into Kenya, Nepal, Trinidad,  Nigeria, Cameroon, and others are set up to come on board in the future.  The United States is also looking at ways this model can be used in work environments and on college campuses.

Taking Take the Lead to Global Ambassadorship

Now Lauren and Gloria Feldt are looking into taking Take the Lead’s Leadership Ambassador program world-wide. The Leadership Ambassador  program  applies Gloria’s “9 Power Tools” to help women transform their relationship with power so they can use it to accomplish their intentional goals. They partnered with the Leadership Foundation Fellows of the International Women’s Forum and delivered a partial version of “The 9 Power Tools” to a group of women from around the world. The Leadership Ambassador program expands  beyond Take the Lead, as each Ambassador teaches entire new groups of women, so the message and the method grow exponentially.
Listen to this interview to learn about more collaborative programs where women are reaching out to help other women around the world. Check out the links of the programs that offer these opportunities for more details about how you can become involved in the movement of women reaching out to help other women around the world, and visit Lauren on Linked-In, Twitter and Facebook.

Five Must-Do’s for Women Seeking Greater Influence in 2017

Charlene Ryan had never been political, but the polarizing candidates in 2016 changed that. For the first time, she worked to elect a candidate and even donated money. Since the election, although nervous, she is ready to play a leadership role in her community, but where to begin?
The first step is to lean into her circle of women friends. The 20 women now in the US Senate – from both sides of the aisle – have made news by meeting for dinner every quarter to work together. One of their most notable agreements prevented a government shutdown in 2013. One commentator joked, “The women are the only grownups left in Washington.”
No one party or person has all the good ideas, so the important thing is for us all to work together for the good of the country. Here are a few useful strategies I’ve learned from the smart, amazing women co-authors of my book, Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business and Life. These strategies will increase your ability to advance your beliefs and increase your influence.

1. Look closely at how you feel about exercising power.

Today, many women and men are willing to step up and act. Feldt’s nine power tools help women understand who they are so they can define their own terms. Women have plenty of ambition, but too often fail to use it to develop their plan, and take responsibility for working it.
Although the doors to power have been open for decades, women haven’t been stepping through. Co-author Gloria Feldt says when power is defined as “power over,” women want no part of it. When she redefines it as the “power to” work with others, women feel quite differently. With this simple paradigm shift women can “choose power over fear to lead authentically as women.”

2. Build your power by speaking in public. 

By speaking up, “A woman is transcending conventional attitudes toward the woman’s role and the woman’s place,” Phillips says. That’s OK. Claim your outsider status as a badge of honor. Draft your bio carefully and let the emcee establish your expertise so you get the respect you deserve.
“Delivering a presentation that achieves its purpose can be empowering,” says co-author Lois Phillips, PhD. Success requires planning, so start by deciding: What do I stand for? What do I believe? Am I willing to take the heat for asserting my ideas?

3. Plan ways to keep the floor and make yourself heard. 

For example, if another woman acknowledges an interruption by saying, “Now, let’s hear more of what Elaine was saying,” she is more likely to regain the floor. When a man offers Elaine’s idea as his own, her ally could say, “Thanks for supporting Elaine’s idea. Let’s ask her to give us a few more data points.” There are personal strategies to help a woman recover after an interruption, but she is much more likely to succeed with allies.
Men are accustomed to talking over women, says gender communication expert and co-author Claire Damken Brown, PhD. To combat that, strategize with other women to get the message out.
When you do have the floor, make sure you don’t numb your audience with every detail. Keep it simple, and offer one word, one sentence and then one paragraph to keep the attention of the audience.

4. Gather Your Nerve and Take Your Rightful Seat

“Women have been trained to hide their skills,” says international speaker and co-author Lois P. Frankel, PhD. She urges women to claim the seat they deserve at the table, regardless of how many men are present.
“Think strategically but act tactically,” says Frankel. While it’s tempting to roll up your sleeves and jump into an assignment, ask yourself some questions first, such as, “Will doing this add value? What is the most efficient way to do it? Should I be doing this or is someone else better suited? What might be a better idea?”

5. Strategize and Use Your Feminine Leadership Skills

Bringing dissenting sides together, knowing when to push, when to pull, and when to stand your ground is typical of feminine negotiation styles. These so-called soft skills are in fact hard to learn and apply, according to-author Birute Regine, EdD. Considering all sides of an issue, listening attentively, empathizing and keeping your focus on the big picture are feminine skills that help women develop beneficial policies.
The quarterly dinners of Democrat and Republican women senators are an example of this willingness to work together. “The women are an incredibly positive force,” one woman confided to a TIME reporter. “We work together well, and we look for common ground.”
Women like Charlene Ryan get involved when they want to change something. That’s great! When you learn a great change technique, apply it in your own life and share it with another woman. Let’s create a world in which every woman claims her power, sees her advice and expertise valued and respected, conquers her internal barriers, and works together with other women and men.

A Woman’s Guide to Winning Leadership

Political Activist for Women

Rebecca Sive


Rebecca Sive is a self-proclaimed fierce and devoted advocate for women’s full participation and leadership in every sphere of public life. She is also a lecturer at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy Studies, where she was the founding Academic and Program Director for Women in Public Leadership and author of Every Day is Election Day: A Woman’s Guide to Winning Any Office, from the PTA to the White House.

Can Women Candidates Win?

When asked the question, “Are the American people ready for a woman president?” Rebecca reminds us of the fact that millions more people voted for a woman to be president in 2016 than for the person currently holding that office. She adds that millions of women in the U.S. today want to run for public office. And when a woman runs, statistics show that she is just as likely as a man to win. It’s true! Winning is not gender-based today because women and men have an equal shot at winning a public office!

18 Million Cracks and Counting

Rebecca’s inspiration to write Every Day Is Election Day came from the 2008 Presidential Election. When she saw the “18 million cracks in the glass ceiling” created by people voting for a woman candidate, she reached out to ask women their stories of the obstacles and strategies they used to win their races and to share her expertise in leadership and politics. Rebecca has two reasons behind her passion: first she was raised to believe that working in public service furthers the greatest good, and second, most women seek public and political leadership because they care about issues and it follows that if they win, things will get better.

The Biggest Barriers to Women in Public Office

When Dr. Nancy mentions how women are attacked for how they look or what they wear–things that shouldn’t matter to political office, Rebecca agrees. However, she says that gender prejudice is only one of the barriers. The biggest barrier is that women do not get to sit at the table where leaders decide who runs for office. There are several reasons for this, but one of them is that women often don’t decide to run early enough. Before they can make that decision, they have to talk with their families about how serving in public office will change their lives. Yes, most women take the majority responsibility at home, so the commitment and time away from those duties affects everyone in the family. But however it’s done, support for women candidates must be communicated to the decision-making committees before we will see more women in public leadership.

How Can You Help Women Candidates?

The first thing to do, Rebecca says, is identify a woman in your peer group—perhaps one of your close friends—who is willing to seek a leadership position. Tell her that you want to support her. The same goes for you if you want to seek office. Tell your close friends and family what you want to do and how they can support you.
Next put your strategy together. That part, Rebecca advises, requires many different areas of expertise in politics, issues and business. Friends can help in their professional areas, such as accounting, contacts in the community or state, etc. Like any professional position, public service requires training and there are many organizations that provide this online (some are listed in the Resources section of Rebecca’s book).
Of course, every candidate needs financial help, but you don’t have to be wealthy to help. You can have a bake sale, organize a fundraiser, or sponsor a benefit. Finally, and most important, if the campaign begins to struggle, for example if your friend loses points in the polls, let her know you are still there for her. And there are numerous ways to support depending on the situation. For example, someone at a forum asks your friend who is going to cook dinner for her family when she has a meeting. You can expose the gender bias by asking a male candidate the same question. It’s up to all of us to be aware and advocate for women leaders who are willing to take on the task of making our world better for all of us.

More Guidance from Rebecca

To learn more about Rebecca’s work, check out her website and watch her videos at RebeccaSive.com or read her posts on Huffington Post. Every Day Is Election Day is available on line and from ChicagoReviewPress.com. Now you can get it for half price with the code, SheRuns. Also group sales are offered for 38 or more copies. Rebecca says the more women do things women have never done, the more we will reduce the barriers to our leadership potential. Listen to this interview for more insights into the most important actions we can take to resolve what Rebecca believes is the biggest crisis facing us today.

Three Ways You Can Help Change the World


An estimated 4.5 million Americans, mostly female, made history when they joined the Women’s March the day after the 2017 presidential inauguration. Since then, many have taken up political activism for the first time. According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, women are rethinking how they allocate their time and energy. They are either engaging in political activities, joining grass-roots groups or finding new career paths, including running for office, to further causes they believe in. In fact, organizations that recruit and train women to run for office have reported unprecedented interest in their programs at every level nationwide.
The recent election has motivated women at all points on the political spectrum to get involved. Many people are recruiting women to become candidates, and overall volunteer numbers are on the rise. Many women realize that running for office isn’t the only way that they can advocate for a cause they’re passionate about; funneling energy into community activism can also make a difference.
It’s definitely an exciting, perhaps unprecedented time for activism. Actress Kerry Washington summed up the connectedness many women are feeling right now in Glamour, “That idea of holding each other’s hands at the Women’s March – it feels like we are being invited to do that every day. So many of us are feeling attacked, and feel the need to protect and defend our democracy. And the march toward the dream of being ‘We the people.’ So that’s exciting, scary, and frustrating. We’re awake. We are awake more than ever before, and we have to stay awake.”
The sense of activism that’s swept the country is undeniably powerful, and history has proven that women who are passionate about a specific cause can be highly effective. So, the question is, if political office isn’t in your immediate future, how can you best get involved? You should definitely volunteer. Here are three great ways you can get busy making a difference in your community today.
Support a candidate you believe in. Whether you’re canvassing neighborhoods, making phone calls, or helping organize special events, female candidates need women like us to support them and help them reach their goals. It is only by helping them get elected that they can be our voice and help bring about change. Women are underrepresented in politics at every level of government. Whether the candidate is running for school board, city council or a state or national elected office, she needs our help. A simple phone call to campaign headquarters can get you started.
Align with a cause to move women forward. Whether it is joining the fight for fair wages or women’s equality, there are plenty of established causes and new outlets popping up every day that can help you make your voice heard.  You can spend a few hours each week doing everything from making calls to Congress to helping get voters educated or registered. Look locally and nationally for causes or movements that resonate with you, and make the call to get involved.
Connect with what matters to you. Is it education? Animals? Parks? Literacy? Food assistance? What excites you? What pulls at your heartstrings? Volunteer for something that is meaningful to you. All non-profits love volunteers, and you can usually get started with a phone call and a few simple forms. If you don’t have a particular organization in mind, there are several online resources like VolunteerMatch.org that can help you choose just the right outlet.
Whether you have a few hours a month or a few days a week, getting out there and getting immersed in your local community is where change starts. By lending our time, treasure, and talent to the places that we call home, we can build a solid foundation for growth. We need to work together to make our voices heard, and celebrate the women who are out there paving the way. When women get involved to help other women, we all win! It is time to help one another and change the world for the better!

Women Lead Best As Women

by Dr. Nancy  O’Reilly
Women have developed their leadership skills through everyday actions of nurturing their families and fostering their communities. But somehow, most people don’t think of it as leading. Stereotypical leadership is done by a white man in a suit who tells others what to do. That’s why in the 1980’s when I directed a large employee assistance program, I actually wore a suit and tie. Although I laugh about it now, the outfit was a symbol of the worn-out ideologies that still persist even though today the world is a much different place. So many women I interview for my podcast tell a story of having to shed those old ideas before they could succeed in their own skin and career. For a woman to lead well, she must acknowledge that her strengths as a woman can help her become a phenomenal leader.
Every chapter of my book, Leading Women, 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business and Life, celebrates qualities that make women excel as leaders. Many of my amazing co-authors also warn of the minefield a woman must cross before she will be accepted and respected by both women and men. Internationally renowned speaker and co-author, Lois Frankel, PhD, writes that women aren’t better leaders, they are different leaders. Frankel says, “We know from history that to be successful, you must be a leader for your time.” And she further asserts that command and control leadership is dead. Today, she says that the kind of leadership needed is what women confidently exhibit within their normal social interactions: “We live in a time of cooperation and collaboration. A time when the carrot is more powerful than the stick,” Frankel says. “In short, a time well suited for a woman’s unique brand of leadership.”
I’m excited to be living in this time. It’s full of challenges, but I also see these as opportunities. Women are more educated and capable than ever. And many more women than ever before are willing to brave the push-back by stepping forward and running for office. The Suffragists thought we would have a woman president within 20 years of gaining the right to vote. We know that didn’t happen, but women are stepping up now in their communities and states to work for issues they value.
Co-author, Lois Phillips, Ph.D., says that a woman will overcome her fear of public speaking to fix something that makes her community a safer place to live,. For example she will stand up and  testify to the school board about a dangerous school crossing in front of her children’s school. Lois writes in Leading Women about possible obstacles and how to overcome them. She urges women to use the “power of the podium” and accept the “challenges and opportunities” to make positive change.
If this seems impossible to you, I want you to listen to my recent interview with Holly Dowling. Holly is a global inspirational speaker. I love the “Hollyisms” that she uses as mantras to get through the day. One that she has used through many career and life challenges is “Tell me no and watch me go.” When someone doubts that Holly can do something, she takes it as a challenge and moves forward with tenacity and persistence.
Another Hollyism is “Not woe is me, but WOW is me.” In finding inspiration and guidance within herself, she found her leadership style and now inspires thousands of others around the world to find theirs also. Listening to her, I thought of that school counselor who told me I’d never succeed in college and that I should go to secretarial school instead. My life would be quite different today if I had followed his advice.
Lois Frankel urges women to sit at the table and take risks. When you play it safe and say that you have no opinion just because your opinion is contrary to someone else’s, you just made your life smaller. To break that tendency, she recommends starting by taking small risks to minimize failure. When you realize that the results are rarely catastrophic, move up the risk ladder and expand your comfort zone. In fact, I think women should get comfortable being uncomfortable.
You have to get uncomfortable to ask for a raise, but if more women asked, the wage gap would finally begin to shrink from that 80% point where it’s been for too long. I recently saw a statistic that reported a little girl born today will not live to see equal pay. It’s up to us to change that. We need to give our daughters hope. What are we waiting for? It’s time for us to use our natural leadership skills, get past the nay-sayers who would hold us back and build our leadership brand. We need more women like you to accept the challenges to achieve your purpose. Look in the mirror and see how your natural gifts make you a phenomenal leader for your time.

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