March 22, 2017
Fortune: Donald Trump Keeps Inspiring Women to Run for Office
by Claire Zillman
That massive spike in American women wanting to run for office following Election Day? It wasn't a ripple—it's a wave, says Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily's List. The organization that supports pro-choice Democratic women is releasing new numbers Wednesday on just how many women have inquired about entering politics following the 2016 election. The results are rather staggering: Since November 8, over 10,000 women have contacted the organization about potential runs for office—roughly ten times as many as reached out during the entire 2016 election cycle, from January 2015 to last November.
In early February, Emily's List told Fortune its inquiry count had hit 4,000. Even those figures were unprecedented for the organization's 32-year history.
In a statement, Schriock said the continued interest from Democratic women is due to alarm over Republicans' agenda—the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Trump administration's travel ban, and efforts to roll back environmental protections. “[T]hese thousands of women are fighting to ensure their voices are heard at decision-making tables in communities across the country,” she said, adding that “this is only the beginning.”
That last point is critical. How will Emily's List and similar groups translate these raised hands into names on a ballot? Emily's List is hosting training sessions to introduce political newcomers to the process of running for office, touching on topics like fundraising. As elections draw near, Schriock's group will work with local partners to identify opportunities and recruit Democratic women candidates to run.
Geography is a consideration, too. There’s no harm in making blue regions bluer, but the broad goal for Democrats in upcoming contests is to flip red districts and, ultimately, red states. Emily’s List says it has received queries from women in all 50 states and the District of Columbia; its digital ads are targeting women who participated in any Women’s March across the country.
Research shows that women are just as likely as men to win office if they run, but a so-called ambition gap keeps women from entering races, the New York Times reported last year. Women are less likely than their male counterparts to be pushed to run by parents, teachers, or party leaders, and they are also less likely to run without being prodded. But that may not be the case for long: if the early numbers from Emily's List are any indication, the past several months may have served as motivation enough.