University of Rochester

EVENT: Forum Explores What It Will Take to 'See Jane Run'

September 20, 2004

Though women make up 51 percent of the U.S. population, they hold less than 14 percent of the seats in Congress.

In fact, the United States ranks 60th in the world, behind countries like India and Andorra, in terms of women’s representation in national legislatures. And that number has been declining—in October 2001, the United States ranked 49th.

As the nation prepares to head to the polls in November, the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership at the University of Rochester will explore why few women are elected as political leaders and also will host a campaign workshop.

“Ms. President? Trusting Women to Call the Shots” is a forum for a panel of national figures to discuss possible reasons—some of which are surprising— for the stagnation in the numbers of women in elected office. The program, which will be held at 1:15 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 8, in the Interfaith Chapel on the University’s River Campus, features panelists:

  • Marie C. Wilson, founder and president of The White House Project, a national nonpartisan organization dedicated to putting more women into leadership. She is co-creator of “Take Our Daughters to Work Day,” author of the book Closing the Leadership Gap: Why Women Can and Must Help Run the World, and former president of the Ms. Foundation for Women.
  • Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. The Center’s surveys of female officeholders found that many women enter politics to bring about changes on specific issues, not to get “power for power’s sake.”
  • Jennifer L. Lawless, assistant professor of political science and public policy at Brown University. In her research on gender and politics, she has found that women are less likely to run for office because they have less confidence and receive less encouragement than men.

Panel moderator is Kathryn Gallant, senior account director for Hall & Partners U.S. Healthcare, who has conducted hundreds of interviews, focus groups, and panel discussions worldwide in her marketing research and communications work and also is well known for her volunteer work with numerous organizations in the Rochester area.

“Candidates for president and vice president tend to rise up through Congress or through governors’ offices,” said Nora Bredes, director of The Anthony Center. “There has not been a woman’s name on the national ticket since Geraldine Ferraro was the Democrats’ vice presidential candidate 20 years ago. We want to look at why, when our country has so many vibrant, well-educated women, few are in the pipeline to higher office.”

To help “fill the pipeline,” The Anthony Center will also host a campaign workshop for women from 3:15 to 5 p.m. the same day, following the panel discussion. The workshop will be presented by the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University, a non-partisan non-profit organization that teaches campaign skills, strategies, and tactics to women interested in running for office or running political campaigns.

Workshop leaders are Fayne Erickson, president of the Women’s Campaign School and former publisher of Ms. Magazine, and Carolanne Curry, a member of the school’s founding board of directors who has more than 35 years’ experience in government positions and election campaigns in Connecticut.

The panel discussion with Wilson, Walsh, and Lawless is part of the Center’s Stanton/Anthony Conversations, a series of annual forums on women’s rights issues named for suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Both the Conversations and the Women’s Campaign Workshop are free and open to the public, but registration is required and can be done online at For additional information, check the Web site or contact (585) 275-8799.

The programs are being held during Meliora Weekend, the University’s annual tradition of celebrating homecoming, alumni reunions, and parents’ weekend together.