EngageEventsPolitics Unequal: The State of Women in Elected Office
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Politics Unequal: The State of Women in Elected Office


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Though we’ve made significant strides in terms of women’s representation and breaking glass ceilings in politics in recent decades, women remain underrepresented in elected office and policymaking. This panel of experts and activists from across the ideological spectrum will interrogate why that is, discussing efforts to overcome it as well as its impact on governance and policy. We will also explore the treatment of women in politics — and whether it differs by ideology or party. We’ll close by looking into the future: how can we ensure that our political sphere looks more like America?


Molly Ball: Molly Ball is the National Political Correspondent for TIME magazine, covering campaigns, the White House, political personalities and policy debates across America. She is also a frequent television and radio commentator and the author of “Pelosi,” a bestselling biography of the first woman Speaker of the House. Prior to joining TIME, she covered U.S. politics for The Atlantic, Politico, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She has worked for newspapers in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Cambodia, as well as the New York Times and the Washington Post. She has received numerous awards for her political coverage, including the Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting of Congress, the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency and the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting. She is a graduate of Yale University, a former Knight-Wallace journalism fellow at the University of Michigan and once won $100,000 on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Ball grew up in Idaho and Colorado and lives in the Washington, DC, area with her husband and three children.

Larissa Martinez: Larissa Martinez is a co-founder of Women’s Public Leadership Network and a political strategist with a proven track record of delivering winning, multifaceted strategies by combining policy, communications and grassroots organizing expertise. Prior to starting WPLN in 2019, Martinez served as a Senior Government Relations Professional at Washington, DC-based government relations firm, Invariant. She has also worked on numerous campaigns, helping female candidates such as U.S. Senator Deb Fischer and Carly Fiorina for President. In addition, Martinez has worked on Capitol Hill for U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA). Martinez received an MPA in Public Administration and Political Management from the University of Southern California and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Georgia. She lives in Alexandria, VA and serves on the Advisory Council of the Women’s Democracy Network at IRI.

Erin Loos Cutraro: Erin Loos Cutraro is the Founder and CEO of She Should Run, a nonpartisan nonprofit promoting leadership and encouraging women from all walks of life to run for public office. Since its founding in 2011, nearly 30,000 women have been encouraged to run for office through She Should Run’s efforts. Erin has an extensive background in designing and implementing strategic programs for companies, campaigns, and organizations that traverse the public policy, nonprofit, and financial business arenas. She is a respected voice on gender equality in elected leadership, a sought-after public speaker, and has served as a featured presenter and facilitator nationwide. She has been featured in the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, NBC News, Vice News and was profiled in 2019 as one of Entrepreneur magazine’s 100 Powerful Women.

Abbie Hodgson: Abbie Hodgson is the director of The Ascend Fund, a collaborative fund dedicated to accelerating the pace of change towards gender parity in U.S. politics. A visionary nonprofit leader and political strategist, Abbie’s is committed to achieving 50% representation for women in all 50 states by 2050. Two decades ago, an internship at the National Foundation for Women Legislators, sparked Abbie’s passion for electing women. Since then, she’s worked on nearly 100 campaigns across the country from president to city council. She also served as speechwriter for Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and as chief of staff to the Kansas House Minority Leader. Having run for office herself, Abbie understands the challenges women encounter on the campaign trail. She also understands that dramatically increasing philanthropic capital in the historically underfunded space is key to ensure more women from diverse background can run for office and win. To date, The Ascend Fund has raised nearly $10 million and maintains a portfolio of 12 national and 13 state and local partners.

Valerie Dowling: Valerie Dowling has worked in the political process from grassroots campaigns to the White House. In 2015, she joined the International Republican Institute as Director of the Women’s Democracy Network where she will continue to work to increase women’s political participation, leadership and representation in elected office globally. In her previous role, Valerie worked at the Republican National Committee in the Office of the Co-Chairman as the Director of Women’s Programs and was focused on creating programming to engage more women in the Republican Party. Previously, she served as the Pennsylvania Coalitions Director with the Romney for President Campaign where she directed community outreach and volunteer engagement. Valerie also served as the Political Director for the National Federation of Republican Women where she developed and managed their national political programming. Prior to this position, Valerie worked in the Bush Administration in Mrs. Bush’s Projects and Policy Office, Presidential Correspondence, and Intergovernmental Affairs. Valerie has worked on several state and federal campaigns in the state of South Carolina. She is a proud graduate of Converse College.


Brian Rosenwald: Brian Rosenwald, Project Manager for RBX, is a scholar in residence at the Partnership for Effective Public Administration and Leadership Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania and an instructor at Penn. He serves as the Editor-In-chief of Made By History, a Washington Post history section and is the author of Talk Radio’s America: How an Industry Took Over a Political Party That Took Over the United States (2019). He works at the intersection of 4 disciplines– history, political science, media studies, and communications. His scholarly interests include Congress, the media, public policy, and the Supreme Court. He also has significant interest in the substance of public policy and in helping scholars to reach a wider audience with their work.

Sponsored by the Gamba Family Red and Blue Exchange, an initiative of the SNF Paideia Program at the University of Pennsylvania. Made possible by the Gamba Family and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

graphic for Red and Blue Exchange

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