Why We Need More Women in Politics: Advice From United States Congresswomen

The Female Quotient and WeWork hosted the Women in Politics Dinner to amplify the need for equal representation in government.

The Female Quotient and WeWork hosted the Women in Politics Dinner to amplify the need for equality in government.

Women make up roughly 51 percent of the population, yet only 20% of Congress is made up of women. The Female Quotient and WeWork hosted a Women in Politics Dinner in New York City to amplify the need for equal representation. Having a Congress that more accurately reflects the population will help push legislation forward to better reflect our wants and needs, from supporting equal pay to advocating for mandatory parental leave to greater protection against sexual harassment.
Shelley Zalis moderating panel with Congresswomen Colleen Hanabusa, Mia Love and Grace Meng at the Women in Politics Dinner at WeWork in New York City.

Shelley Zalis of The Female Quotient moderating a panel with Congresswomen at the Women in Politics Dinner at WeWork in New York City.

Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient, sat down with Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (Hawaii), Congresswoman Mia Love (Utah), and Congresswomen Grace Meng (New York) to talk about their paths to politics, how to get more women to run, and strategies for shifting mindsets.
SZ: We say when you put women in any equation, the equation gets better. What’s your one wish for women to help balance the gender equation?
“What would be a dream come true is if each and every one of us can inspire one person to either run for office or be politically active in any way that they can. Also, I wish for awareness on the part of women that you can make a difference. Finally, women, please do not be hard on other women. We tend to be hardest on ourselves, but we have to stop that and encourage and support each other to help the next generation feel empowered.”
~Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa
“As women, too many times we think we don’t have what it takes. Let me tell you, you have what it takes and then some! We all have unique gifts, experiences, and talents. And they’re meant to be used for the betterment of society. You have an obligation and a responsibility to be able to use those gifts so that you can help…If I had one wish, I hope that you say yes and don’t let opportunities pass you by, because you each have something to offer.”
~Congresswoman Mia Love
SZ: As women, how do you work to help advance initiatives within a divided political environment?
“I think sometimes the media doesn’t adequately cover the many instances when we do work together on bipartisan issues…On both sides of the aisle, we care about our constituents. Often times, we have a lot more in common than we have differences.”
~Congresswomen Grace Meng
“I often find myself stepping out of my jurisdiction when I see I need to in order to get things done…I’m more concerned about getting things done. Every moment I spend in Washington D.C. away from my children has to be worth it.”
~Congresswoman Mia Love
Shelley Zalis with Congresswomen and guests at the Women in Politics Dinner in New York City.

Use your voice to stand up, stand out, and stand together.

What do we need to do to get more women in Congress?
“It’s the demographics. We tend to run when we feel comfortable or only where we feel we have a good chance. If we could look at who is running and could get all women to support women no matter what part of the United States they’re from, we could change the numbers.”
~Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa 
“First of all, it starts with us! We have to see ourselves as capable and we’ll be better at supporting other women. The other part of the equation is that my husband is willing to be an equal parent to me. I’m so grateful for having a man who is comfortable enough with himself and with me and knows I’m capable of doing all of these things.”
~Congresswoman Mia Love
“We need to change the mindset and the standard of what we think a politician, a leader, or a CEO looks like. I remember during my first campaign for Congress, I was putting my son to bed, who was then 5, when he said to me, ‘Mommy, are men allowed to run for Congress?’ I think we’re going in a positive direction. There are 476 women running for Congress this year.”
~Congresswomen Grace Meng
 SZ: If we had more women in Congress, what do you think would be different?
 “There is no way I’m going to say there is no need for men in the equation…but there’s such a lack of women that 50% of the population is missing out on representation. What would change? I think that the policies that would come out of Congress would mirror more of what we look like as Americans. We have to get more women involved.”
~Congresswoman Mia Love
 “I’ve found women members to be better at sharing the credit, and therefore not worrying about who is getting the credit, which is often an obstacle to getting things done.”
~Congresswomen Grace Meng
“I think we need more women in Congress to encourage other women to run for Congress and be part of the solution. But I think it shouldn’t really make a difference. It shouldn’t matter if you’re a woman or man because we’re equally represented. The reason we should strive for gender equality is so that Congress can be truly gender neutral.”
~Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa
SZ: We’re all in…We want to see your voices be the loudest, and we want to help you activate change.
Here are more ideas on how you can be a change agent:
Lead With Impact: How To Speak Up And Be Heard
8 Ways To Create Cultures Of Care Where All Workers Feel Like They Belong
What If: The Students Of Parkland On How We Can Create Change Together