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Closing the gap

‘Elect Her’ aims to change gender norms in politics

Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 00:01

Elect her

William Guerra

Making great political strides throughout the country and capital, women filled a record-breaking 101 seats in the 113th Congress. Yet their numbers still represented less than one-fifth of the
Congressional body.

In response to unequal representation in politics, the American Association of University Women has created “Elect Her,” a program designed to inspire and educate women on the process of running for both student government positions and political office. This year, 50 campuses will host the program, including Texas A&M’s “Elect Her: Aggie Women Win.”

“Elect Her” is an interactive program that teaches participants campaign skills, offers them a chance to hear from local speakers and provides information on current women
in government.

Sonia Mahabir, program assistant coordinator for the Texas A&M Women’s Resource Center, said she hopes participants will be able to recognize their own strengths through
the program.

“Hopefully we will see more female students run in elections for Student Body President and to be Yell Leaders — and an overall cultural shift that removes the barriers that have resulted in only three female Student Body
Presidents and no Yell Leaders who identify as female,” Mahabir said.

“Elect Her” also addresses the need to increase the number of women running for public office and to eliminate the long-standing gender gap in the political sphere.

Heather Wheeler, head program coordinator of the Texas A&M Women’s Resource Center, said the conference will help improve leadership skills for future female leaders at A&M.

“I have already come into contact with many of the inspiring female students here at A&M and believe that many of them have the passion and aptitude to positively affect government, both here at A&M and in our nation,” Wheeler said. “However, many of them have not had the training ‘Elect Her’ offers, which will both increase the likelihood that these amazing women will run for office and make their campaigns more effective.”

Students can apply for the program online, but students may bypass the application process if nominated by peers. Wheeler said the program is not based on political parties or personal opinions on current issues.

“Applicants for ‘Elect Her’ should have a desire to improve our world, either here while they are in college or once they graduate through political office,” Wheeler said. “It is the goal of ‘Elect Her’ simply to supply each woman with the tools to have her voice heard.”

Elora Arana, sophomore environmental studies major, has applied for the program. She said the program supports the idea that there is a place for women in politics and governmental positions.

“These particular positions are not just for men on campus — women can stand in these roles of importance as well,” Arana said. “This program will be a good way to motivate women to represent in a place that has usually had a male dominance.”

Nominations close Wednesday and applications are due next Monday. “Elect Her” will take place Jan. 26 in MSC 2405.


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