The 2010 midterm cycle has produced an unprecedented number of female candidates, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since 1992. Hynes VP Liz Mair spoke with the Atlantic about the trend and what it means for the “old boys club” going forward.
What prompted more women than ever to run for Congress in this cycle?
Liz Mair, political consultant and blogger, Vice President of Hynes Communications: No matter what side of the aisle women candidates come down on, I think a lot of them are sick of seeing the country going downhill and feel it’s time to roll up their sleeves and take charge. As the old saying goes, if you want something done right, do it yourself. That’s not a knock on men, who currently represent a bigger slice of the pie, in terms of federal elected officials. But it is a knock on political leaders, as a group, the political establishment, the “powers that be” and what might casually be referred to as the old boys’ club, notwithstanding its partial female membership to-date.
In 1992, when 222 women filed to run for the House and 29 filed for the Senate, pundits called it the “Year of the Woman.” Was this title premature or did it lay the groundwork for where the U.S. is today politically?
Mair: Labels like “Year of the Woman” are fun for the media to throw around, but the fact that they used that one so much in 1992 makes it hard for them to know what to call this year. I really wonder what they will do if we happen to reach a point where half our governors, half the Senate and half the House are women. “Year of the Woman Part III: The Return of the Year of the Woman Part II?”
We’ve seen a number of women transitioning into politics in this election cycle from the business world. What does this trend say about the skill set and preparation that make for a strong political candidate?
Mair: [S]erving in a leadership role in business prior to entering the political arena…toughens you up, a lot. If you have to go out and lead an organization that has to compete to survive every day, that can be a lot like a political campaign. Scrutiny from shareholders, the financial press, and colleagues who may have competing agendas to your own and see boardroom politics as a zero-sum game is pretty intense, and good.