She was one of the Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful for 2016, and a 2017 Trailblazer in Politics by the Virginia Leadership Institute. It’s safe to say, that Debonnaire girl, Samantha Joy Fay is not ready to back down. Here is what she has to say:
Three months into 2018 and it is already shaping up to be the “Year of the Woman.” Not just because of the #MeToo movement, but also because of the record number of women who will be on the ballot come November.
The number of women interested in running for office has spiked dramatically since the 2016 election cycle, from a few hundred to several thousand. At last count, over 20,000 women are running in primaries and general elections nationwide, in all 50 states. More than 500 of them are challengers or incumbents in races for governor, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives. Given these numbers, women are poised to have an enormous impact on the 2018 midterms and beyond.
The significance of this wave of women candidates cannot be understated. Even in 2018, gender parity in politics is still an uphill battle. The Center for American Women in Politics found that only 25% of state executives, 24% of state legislators, and a mere 19% of U.S. representatives and senators are female—far short of equal representation. Women are just as likely as men to win elections, yet they are much less likely to run. While men are actively encouraged to pursue elected office, women are instead told to wait their turn, get more experience, or put their family first.
So where is a woman interested in politics to begin?
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend Ready to Run, a one-day campaign training workshop in Washington, DC. The program was hosted by George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management and about two dozen women’s political advocacy groups from across the political spectrum. Participants gathered for a crash course on how to run for public office, with sessions on building your campaign, public speaking, forming your digital reputation, messaging to voters, and fundraising. There was so much to know and so little time!
But what really made “Ready to Run” such an incredible event was this: it was all for women, by women. Every participant, panelist, and session leader was a woman who believed in being politically active. As a woman in politics, it was inspiring to see how much energy, excitement, and enthusiasm women had on both sides of the aisle. And as a young woman of color, I was encouraged by the racial, geographic, and age diversity in the room. Everyone had a seat at the table.
Whether you follow it or not, all women—Baby Boomers and Millennials, Latinas and LGBT women, Republicans and Democrats—have a stake in politics. It is not just national, but local. Politics determines who can afford healthcare, go to college, and buy a gun. It also determines who gets to vote, who gets counted, and who has the power to make decisions. As women, we have a responsibility to ensure that our voices, our experiences, and our abilities are represented at every level. Fortunately, more of us than ever are answering the call.
The future is, indeed, female.
Samantha Joy Fay is the legislative assistant for Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13). She has worked in Washington, D.C. for three years as both a legislative and communications staffer on Capitol Hill. Prior to working in Congress, Samantha interned at the White House, Philadelphia City Hall, Cleveland City Hall, and the U.S. Department of Education. She graduated with honors from Haverford College in 2014 with a degree in political science and from George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management in 2017 with a Master’s in political management.