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Getting "Ready to Run" Alongside Other Women

Attendees at a "Ready to Run" conference at Iowa State University

For 10 years, Iowa State University's non-partisan campaign training program "Ready to Run" has prepared women to be first time candidates. This year, they have had record enrollment in the workshops.

Kelly Winfrey is coordinator for Research and Outreach for the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University. She says women are far less likely to run for office than males, but at recent Ready to Run workshops, they have had record numbers of women interested in running for local and county offices.

“Women are drastically underrepresented in office. In the Iowa legislature, we’re represented at about 23 percent, and that number is similar at the national level,” she says. “Women are just not as likely to consider running for office. What our research shows is that women are less likely to feel qualified, even if they are equally qualified. You could have two people with the same educational background, but if one is male, he’s more likely to run for office.”

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Winfrey. Heather Matson, who has participated in the program and ran for House District 38 in the last election and Kim Reem, who is vice president for the National Federation of Republican Women, also join the conversation. Matson says a lot of the women she speaks with are worried about being underqualified or about answering questions about their families when considering a run for political office.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that conversation, about ‘how are you going to be able to do both things at the name time? Aren’t you going to miss being around your kids all the time?’” Matson says. “I think it’s so important to think through all of your life experiences. The example of being a mom is a major benefit. I ask women, ‘Have you ever raised a toddler? Well then, you’re probably a master negotiator.’” 

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa