Release Date: February 27, 2015
BUFFALO, N.Y. – As Minahil Khan rose through the ranks of UB student government, she noticed the number of women diminish at every level.
Her observation was no coincidence. Women aren’t equally represented in government.
Women account for less than 30 percent of the nation’s elected officials, and worse, women of color account for less than 5 percent, according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Moreover, 24 states have never elected a female governor and 22 states have never elected a female senator.
To reduce the gender disparity in politics, the University at Buffalo will host Elect Her, a day-long program that encourages and trains college women to run for student government and future political office.
“Women aren’t representing themselves on campus,” says Khan, an undergraduate UB Council student representative and Elect Her student organizer.
“Holding office was a fulfilling experience for me and I want other students to share the same opportunities, especially female student leaders.”
Elect Her is sponsored by the AAUW, UB Academies, Student Life, Office of Student Engagement and Student Association.
UB was chosen by the AAUW as one of six new schools from across the nation to hold the program, which drew nearly 50 applicants. Fifty campuses will host Elect Her sessions in 2015.
The event is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 28, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in 107 Capen Hall and 501 Capen Hall. The program is open to both men and women. Those who can’t attend can follow the event on Twitter with #UBWomenWin.
Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes will deliver the keynote speech and guests can network with local elected officials throughout the program.
Media are welcome to attend. Peoples-Stokes is scheduled to speak at 11:30 a.m. The on-site contact is Hadar Borden, Elect Her campus coordinator; firstname.lastname@example.org and 716-984-0250.
The day will include workshops and exercises that help participants perfect their elevator speech, plan a campaign, craft messages and more.
“We encourage our students to think about advocacy and be the voice of the community,” says Hadar Borden, administrative director of the UB Academies and Elect Her campus coordinator. “The Elect Her training program is part of that trajectory and provides training that is transferable beyond the college experience.”
Elect Her is built around the premise that students who hold a student government position are more likely to run for public office after they graduate.
Research shows women need to be asked an average of seven times to run for office before they pursue the position. A contrast to the frequent encouragement men and boys receive to run for leadership positions, according to the AAUW.
For many female students, Elect Her acts as the first request.
Faculty and staff across the UB campus are encouraged to “elect” female students to attend the event, kick-starting their potential future as local and national leaders.
According to the AAUW, campuses that hold Elect Her experience a 12 percent increase in female students who run for school political office, and 78 percent of program participants won their next election.