The Institute of Politics and Public Service launched its Women and Politics speaker series, set to run throughout the election cycle and host speakers from professions including political operations and journalism, Nov. 9.
IPPS Executive Director Mo Elleithee (SFS ’94) said plans for the series are currently amorphous and that the frequency of events and topics for issues covered will develop based on student input.
“There are a lot of different issues, a lot of different topics we want to cover. We’re going to try to get as many of them in as we can,” Elleithee said. “But we also want to hear from students what they’d like to explore. So over the course of the academic year we’ll be getting ideas for these different panels from a lot of different places.”
Elleithee said the series will run as long as it is supported by student interest.
“None of these issues are going to go away. And so, yes, we have an election coming up in 2016, but, however that turns out it’s not like these issues go away,” Elleithee said. “This is something we’re committed to for the long haul.”
The series will be interactive, rather than lecture-based, giving students opportunities to have conversations with speakers and panelists one-to-one.
According to Elleithee, the current political landscape has brought discussion on women in politics to the forefront of public concern.
“You hear in every election candidates talking about women’s issues,” Elleithee said. “Women in politics is clearly a force and something to be explored and discussed. … Women are a majority of the electorate now, but too often they’re treated like a minority.”
Elleithee added that the IPPS hopes that hosting the series will encourage more women to engage in politics.
“Focusing on the issues that are driving the political system, focusing on the people that are driving the political system around these issues, the hope is really to engage more women across the ideological spectrum,” Elleithee said. “By engaging [students] on the very real societal issues around engagement of women in politics, we hope that students will challenge the political professionals to figure out ways to do it better.”
The first event included a talk with Managing Director of Research at Purple Strategies Margie Omero and co-founder of Echelon Insights Kristen Soltis Anderson. Omero and Anderson also co-host a weekly podcast called “The Pollsters,” which will feature a recording of the event in a future episode.
Omero stressed the need for not only women but also all members of the political community to discuss women in politics.
“They’re your family members. If you’re not a woman, then you’re related to a woman or you’re in a household with a woman or you have a friend, mothers, sisters, co-workers, employees, employers who are all women,” Omero said.
She also noted that while there have been advances in broadening the scope of women’s issues, there is still room for progress.
“It’s not just about abortion and birth control. It’s about things like gender pay equity, preschool, college affordability, national child care policy, gender discrimination in the workplace, health care affordability and elder care,” Omero said.
Niritta Patel (NHS ’19) said she believes that the Women and Politics series will help her and other students become more politically involved.
“I personally don’t know too much about politics, and I’ve never really been involved, so I think having IPPS especially on campus geared towards women would definitely be a big step,” Patel said.
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.