Want more women in elected office? Fix our campaign finance system

This letter to the editor originally appeared in the New York Times. It is in response to an earlier article about why women shy away from running for office.

It’s not an “ambition gap” that holds women back from our rightful place in elected office, but a systemic flaw in our politics that prioritizes fund-raising prowess over ability, experience and character. “Winning? Women’s Problem Is Actually Deciding to Run” was right on the money except for this glaring omission.

Political campaigning is by nature an “old boys’ club” — women haven’t even had the right to vote for a century yet, while men have been campaigning for more than two centuries. Add in that today to win a seat in Congress costs an average of $1.6 million.

Research also shows that women express more concerns about attracting donors, and in a survey of state legislators, 56 percent of women agreed that it is “harder for female candidates to raise money than male candidates.” So it’s not surprising that public service subtly favors men.

All this is to say that Hillary Clinton shouldn’t stand as the latest, best example of a female candidate pursuing office, but instead mark the beginning of a sea change in American politics.

 

Gabriela SchneiderChief Communications Officer