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On March 29, Arizona State University’s School of Politics and Global Studies hosted a daylong, nonpartisan training — called Elect Her — for women looking to run for student government and political office.
Hanna Salem, a public service and public policy major at ASU, helped in bringing the Elect Her event to Tempe. Salem, the civic engagement director for Undergraduate Student Government, was forwarded an email from Running Start suggesting an event on campus.
When she followed up, Salem found out that a former professor of hers had also looked into bringing the Elect Her event to ASU. The course she had previously taken, POS 435: Women and Politics, was taught by Gina Woodall, a senior lecturer within the School of Politics and Global Studies. The two then decided to collaborate to bring the event to ASU.
“Research shows that women sometimes don’t think about running for office because they aren’t asked to,” Woodall said. “Research also shows a large dropoff in young women’s self-esteem and self-assessment during adolescence that does not happen, to the same extent, to young men; this affects their confidence with taking risks such as running for student government.”
The event featured multiple exercises with Sara Blanco from the organization Running Start, interviews with a student government official and a panel of Arizona female elected officials.
“With this event, we targeted young women and asked them, ‘If not you, then who?’” Woodall said. “Running Start then exposes them to different female leaders to listen and learn from.”
Prior to the training, attendees submitted questions for the panel, which featured Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, Arizona Superintendent of Public Schools Kathy Hoffman, Arizona Rep. Jennifer Pawlik and Prescott City Council member and ASU political science major Alexa Scholl.
“Elect Her was a fascinating event that I found extremely informative,” global studies major EmilyAnne Johnson said. “I loved how diverse the the panel was in terms of age and party, but merged and found a common ground in being women in politics.”
Amanda Andalis, a political science and communication major at ASU, shared that the workshop gave her the opportunity to learn more about the intricacies of running for public office directly from elected officials.
“It was so inspirational to hear from the elected officials on the panel because many of them started by serving in volunteer positions in their cities/counties and worked their way up to their current positions,” said Andalis.
Woodall hopes to make Elect Her an annual, signature event at ASU, especially with the work the faculty within the School of Politics and Global Studies are doing to advance women in politics research.
In a recent example, ASU professors Miki Kittilson, Valerie Hoekstra and Jennet Kirkpatrick hosted a conference “Diversity in the Judiciary: Does it Matter for Democratic Inclusion, Representation or Inequalities?” where judicial scholars from all over the country attended and presented their work.
“Our school is the place to be if you are interested in women in politics, either in the U.S., or from a comparative/international relations perspective,” Woodall said. “It is quite unique to have so many faculty engaged in the subfield of women in politics; of course this research is shared with and reflected in our course offerings to students as well.”