Full disclosure: we are completely biased about this past election day because we won — and won big.
We say that boldly because we elected many women, and female votes made the difference in big races. We elected conservatives, liberals, and many who cannot be defined by straight-line party politics.
Leading Through Collaboration
These winners will give a new test to the belief — honed in politics, business, and community work — that women often bring a more consensus-driven and problem-solving approach to leadership. Surveys find that many feel women are more likely to lead through inspiration, transforming our attitudes and beliefs, and aligning us through meaning and purpose. Women show strength as listeners, are often less partisan, and are known to be more collaborative. They also bring innovative ideas we have yet to see and invest in. We will need such original thinking to bridge our divides and find common ground.
Need an example? This month, with Congress in the throes of contentious issues, all 24 female U.S. senators sent a bipartisan letter to President Biden, calling on him to protect the rights of Afghan women and girls in the wake of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Clean up the mess, voters say, and they turn to women — who almost always succeed.
We are excited to count the wins from a practical point of view, since they move us closer to #5050x2028. That said, we are still far from the pace we need to reach our destination. Women are 51 percent of the population of the U.S. Yet men still hold 70–75 percent of elected offices nationwide.
We look to those elected in November to further remind all voters why putting the entire team on the field — male and female alike — is a winning game plan.
Assessing the Outcomes
In this cycle, we saw several races where the largest parties each ran a female as their nominee. They include lieutenant governor contests in New Jersey and Virginia, the mayor’s race in Boston, and several state senate and district races in New Jersey and elsewhere.
In mayoral contests, in a race that included two women of color, Boston elected its first woman and first woman of color, Michelle Wu, and Durham, NC, elected its first Black female mayor, Elaine O’Neal.
In New York City, the incoming class of 51 city council members includes many first-time candidates and more women serving than in any time in its history. “The 31 women who won or are favored to win will more than double the current Council’s class of female leaders,” according to The City newspaper.
Multiple women running for the New Jersey State Assembly made history. Ellen Park, who is Korean American, and Shama Haider, a Muslim woman who was born in Pakistan, became the first Asian American women to win seats in the legislature, both hailing from the 37th District in the north of the state.
We gained numerous firsts and many breakthroughs. Now we need to get to work, finding ways to move forward together. Campaign rhetoric is often heated, so we promise to lend some balm to cool things down as we look for common ground.
Research on party leadership once suggested that women get the opportunity to lead mostly during times of loss, decline, and crisis. Clean up the mess, voters say, and they turn to women — who almost always succeed.
In some way, that is flattering. But we are not cleaning women. We are leaders. We won big. Let’s keep leading.
©2021 Women’s Campaign Fund
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