By Anna von Wendorff, ’18
In January, Stanford in Government’s Public Policy Forum hosted a panel addressing the challenges that women face in the political arena. The event featured Karina Kloos, PhD ’15, who recently published Deeply Divided, a book addressing the political division in the U.S.; and Kimberly Ellis, executive director of Emerge California, an advocacy group focused on encouraging progressive women to run for office. Professor of Sociology Shelley Correll, MA ’96, PhD ’01, moderated the panel. Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA 14) opened the event with a keynote address about causes she has worked on during her time in office. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t have a dragon to slay,” Speier said, “but that’s how I know I’m making a difference.”
Students, faculty, and community members attending the event were encouraged to discuss their thoughts about the inclusion of women in politics and to share their ideas anonymously on note cards following the panel. Many expressed surprise at one startling statistic: at seven years old, an equal number of boys and girls want to be president of the United States, but by the time they are 15 years old, far fewer girls want to be president than boys. The lack of female role models is a large part of the problem, Kloos said, and “politics continues to be a white male environment.”
The event brought many different groups within the Stanford community together for an evening of reflection. Cosponsors of the Women in Policy event included the Haas Center for Public Service; the Women’s Community Center; and the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. Panelists commented favorably on the number of men in attendance, and reiterated that this is not “just a women’s issue,” but an issue that affects everyone.