Women make up 54% of electorate but only hold 22% of elected office in North Carolina. On September 15, Meredith College explored the reasons why during a forum for women candidates.
“Politics has been called the last glass ceiling,” said Visiting Professor of Political Science David McLennan, who moderated the panel.
All women candidates who are on the ballot in Wake County were invited to the forum. There were 16 candidates who participated, running for offices including the U.S. House of Representatives, N.C. House, N.C. Senate, Wake County District Attorney, Wake County Board of Commissioners, and several judicial seats.
Each candidate shared her political background and motivations for seeking public office. Their reasons for running for political office included wanting to be part of decisions, knowing one voice makes a difference, and a desire to give back to their communities. Many of the candidates said they never expected to run for office but were motivated by a desire to see change in their state or community.
Participants encouraged other women in the audience, particularly Meredith College students, to consider becoming involved in public service and to be informed voters. Their advice included developing self-confidence, networking and maintaining those connections, and being authentic leaders. Many emphasized the importance of finding strong mentors and learning from the example of other women in public office.
The forum was sponsored by Meredith Votes, a campus-wide, nonpartisan voter registration, education and turn out effort.