Training women run for political office

Amalia Duarte is a working mother from Mendham, New Jersey. For the first time in her life, she is running for elected office. Amalia, who is running for Mendham Township Committee, is part of a growing group of women deciding to campaign for political office for the very first time.

VoteRunLead, a bipartisan organization that trains women how to run for office, has seen a surge in interest. Following the November 2016 election, 9,000 new women signed up for VoteRunLead workshops. Executive Director Erin Vilardi said women used to talk themselves out of running for office. But now many are talking themselves into running.

VoteRunLead and an organization called She Should Run helped Marie Claire magazine conduct a women's political power survey. They interviewed 750 women planning to run for public office. Marie Claire editors wanted to find out what was motivating these women to seek elected office now.

More than half, 56 percent, of the women surveyed said they don't think as many women run for office as men because no one has ever encouraged them to run. So why run now? The survey found 53 percent women don't like the direction the country is headed.

What took these women so long to consider it? Vilardi said more than half the women surveyed said running for office while also needing to make a living felt very difficult. Women candidates interviewed also said they lacked self-confidence when it comes to fundraising.

The gender gap is wide when it comes to holding political power in this country. While women compose half of the U.S. population, they only occupy 25 percent of state legislatures. And only 21 of 100 U.S. senators and six governors are women. VoteRunLead and women already in elected office are trying to close that gap.