By Kristine Perkins | Public relations/student programs coordinator, Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women & Politics

During this last election, we saw many firsts for women in politics, both nationally and locally. Iowa elected its first female governor, we have three women in the U.S. Congress, and we now have 45 women (30 percent) serving in both the Iowa House and Senate. But women are still underrepresented in politics.

For the last six years I've worked full-time at a nonpartisan, university-based center for women and politics where a campaign training program has been offered every other year since 2007. I’ve been attending Ready to Run Iowa: Campaign Training for Women since 2013, and here are the top three things I’ve taken from the workshop series:

One: Research shows that when women run, they win at equal percentages to men. And when you see women running and serving in office, more women run the next cycle. It’s called the multiplier effect.

Two: Fundraising is a big deterrent to women and turns them off to the idea of running. Women generally find it difficult to ask for money. This shouldn’t scare you. The money you raise and invest in your campaign is money well spent to get the ideas of the people pushed to the top of your agenda. Five dollars toward a yard sign is a reminder to everyone that you’re serious and have something to say on behalf of hundreds if not thousands. It’s never all about you; just keep that in mind to help when making the ask.

Three: Many people believe one must have a political science degree to serve in any capacity. This is simply not true. Local boards and commissions are desperate for a wide variety of people with different backgrounds. Engineers and teachers, stay-at-home moms and lawyers, fast food workers and small business owners are all needed to accurately represent all citizens and make smart decisions that benefit the greater good. All socioeconomic statuses and ages need to be represented, not just the typical leaders in your community.

This piece isn't about partisan politics. This is about convincing women they are smart enough and qualified to run, win and serve.

Research shows most women need to be asked to run. They need to have a seed planted and have someone else believe in them first. More specifically, on average, it takes three asks to get a woman to actually run for office.

You should have a representative who thinks like you, looks like you, and wants to do good by you because, after all, they are working for you. And if you don't have that right now, girl, look in the mirror because you should run.

You should run.

You should run.


Kristine Perkins is the public relations/student programs coordinator for the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University. You can connect with her onLinkedIn.