AAPC’s riveting September 21st webinar featured Katie Packer Beeson (Burning Glass Consulting), Joanna Burgos (OnMessage, Inc.), Michelle Jeung (Storefront Political Media), Emmy Ruiz (Democratic Strategist), and Michele Watley (The Griot Group) who discussed efforts being made on both sides of the aisle to recruit and promote female candidates and how the industry can continue to evolve to ensure equality in the workplace. In addition to the summary, login to watch the full webinar recording!
- Women are now seen more equally in the workplace compared to 20 years ago. We used to be stereotyped into the assistant or secretary positions, but that is definitely changing for the better.
- Creating support for women is crucial. Putting on an event for your staff and their children is a great idea. We had a Halloween party in 2012 for campaign staff and their families, and it was a wonderful opportunity for parents to spend that holiday with their children. Women can be mothers and make a big contribution to campaigns, and we have to recognize that and support them.
- Women typically cannot see themselves in executive positions, whereas men can more easily picture themselves in those elected official roles. This is important to be aware of, so that we can encourage women rise up.
- It’s important to have inner confidence, so you can instill a potential candidate with confidence. We, as women, need to say “I got this.”
- There is a bit of an uphill battle to convince women that it’s a worthwhile fight to be in an elected position. We have to continue to push to see the results we want.
About Katie: Katie Packer Beeson is Founding Partner at Burning Glass Consulting, a first of its kind, all-female Republican firm, which does public relations, political consulting and issue management consulting with an emphasis on messaging to women.
- Often times I am the only woman in a meeting. It’s definitely on us to increase the numbers by mentoring and encouraging young women to join our profession.
- Motherhood is consuming, but I would love to see more mothers in elevated positions. It happens all the time that women don’t run for office because of their children, but I believe it is important for communities to see that mothers can do both.
- In the past, women have not received a lot of support to run for elected official positions. While this is changing, I think we can do even more to promote women to these roles.
- Seeing mothers in executive or elected positions is very encouraging, and it is wonderful for children to see their mothers in these roles. This is how we encourage the next generation of women that they too can have it all.
- Be confident and reach out to anyone when getting started. Ask people to coffee, or go in for an informational interview. Be willing to do anything for a job, even if that means moving to a new state.
About Joanna: Joanna Burgos is OnMessage’s juggler-in-chief. Whether general consulting, crisis communications, earned media, paid media, digital or polling for OMI’s political, corporate or sports clients, Joanna’s involved.
- Overt sexism is less prevalent today. It is still important, though, to be aware of the role women naturally take on (cleaning up after a meeting, sitting on the outskirts of the table, etc.)—leading to subversive sexism.
- Important to discuss different gender dynamics. For example, women look more closely at narrative and physical appearance (aggressive vs. not aggressive) in terms of how they come across compared to men.
- There are definitely more women determining message and strategy behind a campaign, but a more well-known male consultant might get the credit. We need to bring these women to the foreground.
- Reach out to someone doing a job you want to do when first starting out in the business. People are always willing to talk about themselves.
- There is a role for men to play in encouraging women to run for office and work in politics. It’s important to recognize that there are men who support us; we just need more of them!
About Michelle: Michelle Jeung joined Storefront Political Media in 2014 and brought with her more than a decade of political research and communications experience. Prior to joining Storefront, she served as the Research Director on a competitive U.S. Senate race during the 2012 election cycle.
- There has been a positive progression of women in organizing roles to committees and elected positions.
- Identifying the challenges in politics for women is very important. It’s on us to change stereotypes.
- No matter what party or side of the aisle you are on, women have a lot of shared experiences due to their involvement in the political field. Recognize this and lift each other up.
- Women tend to be good at community related efforts and talking to diverse communities, because of being more in touch with the human side of politics.
- Be bold. Dive right in. Be an organizer and ask to shadow. To be successful, you have to work hard and be in this business for the right reasons.
About Emmy: For the past decade, Emmy Ruiz has focused on empowering women & girls, Latinos, and young voters. During the 2008 general election, she served as YDA’s field director and in 2010 advised USAID’s Yes Youth Can effort focused on registering & mobilizing young voters in Kenya. Whether at Annie’s List as Political Director or as an advisor for Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, she’s worked on empowering women at every step.
- We’ve seen an evolution on the elected official side in terms of the number of female candidates, particularly in 2016, but there’s still a ways to go on the political consulting and strategist side.
- Lift each other up—take a platform for other women. Make sure to highlight women’s ideas and thoughts in a meeting. Elevating each other’s voices is an important way to make strides in the industry.
- Take opportunities to volunteer. Build your network and show what you bring to the table. Your network is your net worth.
- Study your craft. Read books, find mentors, take trainings, join associations like the AAPC. These things ultimately make you more marketable.
- Men need to play a role in this development and be conduits to women’s success in this industry.
About Michele: Michele L. Watley is the founder and owner of The Griot Group, a consulting practice that partners with clients to bring together the people, institutions and resources necessary to create impact through strategic communications and advocacy. She is a results-driven practitioner that has worked with candidates and organizations across the US, representing a vast range of political ideologies at the federal, state, and local levels of government.
A huge thank you goes out to our speakers for sharing their expertise with the AAPC membership!