The Richmond Women’s Law student group and the Metro Richmond Women’s Bar Association sponsored an Elect Her program Saturday, Feb. 24 in the Moot Courtroom of the T.C. Williams School of Law.
“The program is a nonpartisan workshop for both law students and adult women to basically learn the skills and the tools they need to run for public office or for student government,” Elizabeth Hanes, the president of the Metro Richmond Women’s Bar Association, said.
Kate Miceli, the president of Richmond Women's Law, said in an email that 17 women had attended the event.
Running Start, a nonpartisan organization for politically active women, developed the program with the American Association of University Women in 2009, and took full ownership of it in 2016.
Usually, the training is geared toward collegiate women who might run for student government, Jessica Kelly, Running Start’s programs and leadership director, said. At the University of Richmond's law school, the focus was on getting law students and other women who have law degrees to run for office in their local communities, she said.
The event was also open to UR undergraduate students and women in the community, Hanes said.
The program consists of sessions on building a network, crafting an elevator pitch and finding your issue, as well as a campaign simulation and a question-and-answer session with local female elected officials, Miceli said.
Those elected officials were Shannon Taylor and Leslie Haley, Hanes said. Taylor serves as the Commonwealth’s attorney and Haley is the Midlothian District Supervisor.
Elect Her has a high success rate among collegiate women. In 2016, an independent researcher found that 90 percent of the women who ran for student government after attending Elect Her trainings won.
“I think there’s just a lot of energy in Virginia right now with women running for office and succeeding," Miceli said. "Especially with the General Assembly, we had huge success with women winning."
Sophomore Rena Xiao, who planned on attending the event, echoed this sentiment.
“I know a lot of women are seeking seats in office, ever since the election," Xiao said. "It’s nice to see women in charge, especially after the Time’s Up event."
More women of both parties should run for office because women are underrepresented, Kelly said. Although about half of the population is female, only one in four elected officials are women, she said.
Additionally, female senators are generally more productive than their male peers, Kelly said, citing a Quorum study. The study found that women in the senate co-sponsored more bills and reached across the aisle more than male senators.
The best way to get more women involved with politics is by encouraging them to run for public office, Hanes said. Women are more likely to run with that push, she said, which is one reason that her association helped sponsor Elect Her.
Contact news writer Katherine Schulte at firstname.lastname@example.org.