How to talk to kids about this election

call-in-sick-election-fatigue-funny-ecard-ihcThese days, a lot of conversations around the office of the Center for American Women and Politics (and our larger home, the Eagleton Institute of Politics) tend to start or end with someone saying “Wow, what an interesting year to be studying politics, huh?” or “I’ve just never seen anything like it before.”  While presidential election years can be great opportunities to teach kids about democracy and elections, the heated rhetoric and tone from this election cycle have, at times, made it difficult to approach as an educational tool.  I have three young daughters, and they have repeatedly peppered me with questions over the past several months: “Why don’t people want girls to be president?”, “Why is everyone so angry about this election?”, and “Why does the sign on that guy’s house say ‘X for President, X for prison’?”  Whether I like it or not, my kids are learning about this election, and some of what they’re learning is quite disheartening. I’ll admit my instinct has sometimes been to answer quickly and then change the subject. Because, frankly, I’m not sure where to begin.

But it’s important to talk to our kids about this election in particular and about democracy in general. Civic engagement is the cornerstone of our democracy, after all. And in a year when gender plays a dramatic role, it’s more important than ever to address the subject with an eye on the messages girls and boys receive about who can be public leaders. The Washington Post spelled out why this election could have a negative impact on the girls in this country, regardless of the winner.  This line is particularly sobering: “To be sure, electing the first female president would show American girls that women truly can overcome gender bias and win elections at the highest levels. But they will also have witnessed another truth: They will pay a price for trying.”  That shook me out of my election fatigue. If my girls must learn this lesson, I also want boys to hear that girls may pay a steep price just for wanting to lead.

To get inspired, I found some resources to use for engaging young people in discussions about politics, women’s leadership and democracy:

  • IGNITE, an organization dedicated to grooming young women to become the next generation of political leaders, launched the #DeclareYourAmbition campaign earlier this week to help inspire more girls. The campaign video should be required viewing for every elementary school kid in this country.  IGNITE also has “Empower Your Daughter” discussion guides by age group to help you engage girls in election activities and politics. Watch the video below and then tell a girl to run for office!

presandvpbarbie
PS I *love* the Presidential ticket that our partner organization She Should Run has created with Barbie. Snag them before they’re gone!

Grace for President!

The following is a guest post by North Dakota State Representative Gail Mooney.  Elected to the legislature in 2012, Rep. Mooney serves on the Government Services Committee, the Human Services Committee, and the Government and Veterans Affairs Committee. Rep. Mooney participated in our Grace for President Reading Project during Women’s History Month. 

In late March, I had the pleasure of reading Grace for President to the second graders of Hillsboro (ND) Elementary School. Mrs. Liedholm and Mrs. Ferguson were gracious enough to open up their classes for an hour of reading, visiting and LOTS of questions!

Rep. Gail Mooney reading Grace for President at her local elementary school.
Rep. Gail Mooney reading Grace for President at her local elementary school.

When I started, I asked them all….Who wants to be President of the United States??!!  Without hesitation they all raised their hands – boys and girls.  Then I told them that in the really old days, when I was in the second grade, if anyone had asked me if I’d like to be President, it would never have occurred to me to raise my hand.  They laughed and thought that was funny.

We read Grace for President, and they loved it.  They were so engaged with the story, and they all agreed Grace should be President.

Afterwards we talked about dreams.  I shared that when I was a little girl, my dream was to be an artist.  Then they shared their dreams – artists, farmers, teachers – and presidents.  🙂

Then we talked about women in history – they shared a whole litany of GREAT women in history.  I told them how impressed I was that they’d paid so much attention to all these wonderful women. But I also asked them: what about our great moms and great teachers??  Aren’t they historical in their own way??  They LOVED that!

We talked about the state legislature and what my job is all about.  When I told them part of my job is to listen to them – to their parents and friends – they loved that.  Mrs. Ferguson asked about any bills that didn’t pass that were disappointing. One that came to mind involved a requirement for seat belts in school buses.  After discussing it, we decided we’d have a classroom vote on this bill so that I could bring that back with me in the next legislative session.  They voted unanimously for safety and to have seat belts.  I told them I will bring that bill forward in the next session and be sure to share their vote with my fellow legislators!

In the Q&A one little guy asked me if I’d ever found my dream of being an artist.  So sweet that he remembered.  I told them that YES! I had! And that I then discovered another dream of being in public office.

We finished with hugs galore – and a huge THANK you for the book donation.

So – with that – thanks  so much to Teach a Girl to Lead™ for initiating this in honor of Women’s History Month.  It was a hit on every level!

(Editor’s note: Thank YOU, Rep. Mooney, for helping teach the next generation – both girls and boys – about women’s public leadership!)

Costume Ideas for Girls Who Run the World

In recent weeks, several parents have called out big national chain stores for their poor selection of girls’ Halloween costumes, including this one.  Melissa Wardy of the blog Pigtail Pal & Ballcap Buddies wrote a great piece a few years ago summing up the problem. Unfortunately there are too many “sexy” costumes for young girls and never any that help girls exercise their own power.

So how about giving your daughter – or son! – costume ideas based on a real woman public leader? Here’s a round-up of some of our favorite costumes and costume ideas, plus some reading suggestions to help you both learn about these important trailblazers.


1) Supreme Court Justice

RuthBabyGinsburg

This baby blows us away with his Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg costume. Three other women have also served on the nation’s highest court: Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Elena Kagan, and former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.  Any of these women would be fine choice for a girl looking to make her own case.

For inspiration, read: Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World, Sonia Sotomayor’s My Beloved World,  For young kids, check out Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx.

2) Madam President

Does your little one have presidential aspirations?  Fortunately there are a number of women to choose from, including current candidates Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina.

Shirley Chisholm  CarolMoseleyBraun

Many other women have run for president in US history, including Carol Moseley Braun and Shirley Chisholm. [We can’t get enough of the Because of Them We Can series featuring girls dressed as famous Black women leaders. Check out their site and get some amazing posters!]

VictoriaWoodhull  EllenJohnsonSirleaf  WilmaMankiller


Victoria Woodhull
was the first woman to run for the US presidency. There are also several women currently serving as presidents in other countries, including Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. Wilma Mankiller was the first woman to serve as chief of the Cherokee Nation.

For inspiration, read: Chisholm’s Unbought and Unbossed or Sirleaf’s This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President. For kids, read: A Woman for President: The Story of Victoria Woodhull; Madam President: Five Women Who Paved the Way; or  Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman’s Race for the Presidency.


3) Governor

NellieTayloeRoss

In this country’s history, 37 women have served as governors in 27 states. Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming was the first woman to serve as governor in the United States when she was elected in 1925.

There are six women currently serving as governors: Mary Fallin (R-OK), Nikki Haley (R-SC), Susana Martinez (R-NM), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Kate Brown (D-OR), and Gina Raimondo (D-RI).

 

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For inspiration, read the autobiographies of past women governors, including Up the Capitol Steps: A Woman’s March to the Governorship by former Oregon governor Barbara Roberts and Straight from the Heart: My Life in Politics & Other Places by former Texas governor Ann Richards.


4) Member of Congress

There are plenty of women trailblazers in US Congress to pick from.

PatsyMink_1990orchid  Barbara Jordan

Patsy Mink was the first woman of color and first Asian woman to serve in the US House of Representatives. Barbara Jordan was the first Black woman elected to Congress from the deep South.

For inspiration, read: A Heart in Politics: Jeannette Rankin and Patsy T. Mink and Barbara Jordan: American Hero.


5) Suffragette

Suffragette

The new Suffragette movie reminds us that many women fought for our right to have a voice in our democrazy. Girls and young women can pick specific woman suffragists to emulate or simply be themselves.

For inspiration, read: Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. For kids, read: You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage.

 

Happy trick or treating!

11 Ways to Encourage Your Daughter to Pursue Politics

This post was written by Nadia Farjood for Political Parity.  It is reprinted with permission from the author and Political Parity. Although it was written in preparation for Father’s Day, the advice is perfect for any time of the year –  particularly Election Day – and for all adults who want to educate and inspire the girls in their lives!  

DSC_0134_2This Father’s Day, I hope dads and daughters will experience politics together. Research shows that young men are more likely than women to be socialized by their parents to consider politics a viable career path. But that can change. With 2016 around the corner and female presidential candidates running from across the political spectrum, there’s no better time for young women to get involved in our participatory democracy—and make it a father-daughter bonding opportunity! Your daughters are never too young to learn about their role in American government. Ready to plunge into politics? Here are 11 ways you can empower your daughter to amplify her voice and take part in the democratic process.

1. Bring your daughter to the polls. Election Day is also Take Your Daughter to Vote Day. Show her how to fill out a ballot and explain why it’s important to participate in our democracy. Snap a picture of you and your daughter at your polling place and share it on Twitter with #TakeYourDaughtertoVoteDay. Instill in your daughter a sense of civic duty. When John Mayer wrote his famous hit “Daughters,” I think he was really going for these lyrics:

So fathers, go vote with your daughters,
Daughters will vote if you do.
Girls become voters, who turn into civic motors,
So fathers, take your daughters to vote with you.

2. Talk about politics and ask your daughter for her opinion. As you read the Sunday paper (or scroll through headlines on your iPad), ask your daughter about her thoughts on the day’s events. When you pass the potatoes at the dinner table, exchange ideas about domestic and global affairs. What do you think about [insert issue]? How could our community be better? If you were president, what would you do first?

3. Watch political TV shows and films together, especially ones featuring strong female leads. As the saying goes, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Role models have a powerful influence on people’s sense of possibility. Watch Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina’s videos announcing their presidential campaigns. Use this #MarchtoParity Women in Politics Media Guide as a starting place for your movie marathon. Highlight women in the world making major contributions—they just might ignite your daughter’s political ambitions.

4. Read about women political leaders and women’s history—together. Former presidential candidate and Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder once said that more women would run for office, if they only knew their history. Go to the local library and check out books on women suffragists and abolitionists, veterans and civil rights legends. Teach a Girl to Lead, a project of the Center for American Women in Politics, has a digital library of books you can put on your reading list.

5. Get involved in your community. Sixty percent of women in the 113th Congress were once Girl Scouts. Needless to say, early engagement in local and neighborhood issues catalyzed women’s early political awakenings. Look up programs in your community that will allow your daughter to tap into her civic spirit—and join her if you can! Bonus: Watch Girl Scouts interview members of Congress in their Portraits in Leadership series.

6. Take your daughter canvassing. If you’re going door-knocking, take your daughter with you. At age five, former US Senator Mary Landrieu accompanied her father on the campaign trail for his state legislature race. She recalls learning the ropes of campaigning in her childhood: “My little knuckles used to hurt knocking on the doors, so my father would give me a rock to use. I’d tap on the door and say, ‘Hello, I’m Mary Landrieu, and this is my dad.’” Likewise, when she was 13, Hillary Clinton canvassed for a presidential campaign. These early experiences clearly cultivate women’s interest in and commitment to politics down the line.

7. Write a letter to or arrange a visit with your local representative. We live in a participatory democracy, but we often forget to communicate with our government, other than on Election Day. Encourage your daughter to send a letter to your local representative, or visit him/her in person. As a young woman, Senator Susan Collins met then-Senator Margaret Chase Smith in the US Senate Youth Program in Washington and never forgot the experience. Collins now holds the seat once occupied by Smith.

8. Encourage your daughter to play competitive sports. Politics is a contact sport. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was a college squash player, Senator Kelly Ayotte was a competitive skier, and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is a martial artist and avid surfer. Research from Professor Jennifer Lawless at American University suggests that women who play competitive sports are more likely to express an interest running for office later in life. Lawless explains that key leadership lessons are taught out on the field, including “the ability to compete and the willingness to lose.”

9. Ask your daughter about student government and debate programs at school. Learn about what civic opportunities are offered by your daughter’s school or locally. Student government and debate experience can pave pathways to public service. After all, Senator Susan Collins was the president of her high school, and Senator Elizabeth Warren was named Oklahoma’s top high school debater. If the school doesn’t offer these programs, explore opportunities with your daughter and community members for creating them.

10. Take a field trip to a historic site for women in politics. The next time you sit down to plan a family vacation, think about going to a place where women made history. Visit Rosa Parks’ statue in DC or one of the women’s history sites identified by the National Register of Historic Places. Teach a Girl to Lead has a database of places you can explore that celebrate women’s history.

11. Throw a president party instead of a princess party. As Political Parity Director Marni Allen notes in “Senator, Not Cinderella”, she’s never heard of anyone throwing a young girl a president party. You could change that! For your daughter’s next birthday, consider having a political-themed party with celebratory slogans, birthday buttons and bumper stickers, and even voting booths, where party attendees can vote for historical female presidential candidates. Wrap gifts in political newspapers, and have a star-spangled time!

Star Wars and History Books: Teaching All Kids that Women Matter

My husband and I went holiday shopping for our three young daughters the other day. Our first stop was a popular big box retail store. After taking care of a few other items, I found him in one of the toy aisles with a perplexed look on his face. He was standing in front of the section of Star Wars toys – in particular looking for action figures from the new Star Wars Rebels series. If you don’t know, Star War Rebels was launched earlier this year as an animated show taking place five years before the original Star Wars movie series. For my Star Wars super-fan husband, that was exciting enough. But what pleased both of us is that two of the five main characters are women – and strong, impressive women at that. Sabine Wren and Hera Syndulla are smart, capable, and always in the middle of the action. Our almost 8-year old and almost 6-year old daughters love those characters and the show. They constantly act out being Hera and Sabine. How great is that? We both were thrilled with Lucasfilm for creating these characters our daughters can see themselves in.

Why aren’t the female characters on this shirt?

Back to the holiday gift shopping. Not a single Star Wars Rebels action figure or toy at the store featured these female characters. My husband was looking carefully at the tags where items sold out to see if they were just out of stock. No luck – they just weren’t available to purchase in the first place. Next we headed to the mall to continue with our shopping. We were hopeful we would find some stuff at the Disney store. But no such luck – nothing we saw in the Star Wars Rebels section contained the female characters. In fact, one of the boys’ t-shirts for sale featured all the male characters, but none of the women. What the heck? It’s just as bothersome that the boys’ items leave the women off – boys need to see women as strong leaders too. When I got home, I did some research and found out that Disney and Hasbro had been called out on this issue by several bloggers and the Twitterverse. You can read more here, here, and here. The good news is that the next round of action figures and toys will include Hera and Sabine…but I guess not in time for this holiday season. That’s a real shame and a missed opportunity.

One of the big reasons the Center for American Women and Politics launched Teach a Girl to Lead™ was because we know “you can’t be what you can’t see.” What my husband and I experienced in the shopping aisle is typical in classrooms. American history textbooks continue to emphasize the pivotal roles of men in U.S. history, but gloss over, or skip entirely, the contributions of women. One study found that in one of the most commonly-used second-grade textbooks, less than a quarter of the historical figures mentioned are women, and far fewer pages are devoted to the women than to the men (up to 5 pages of mentions for women leaders, while the men receive up to 22 pages worth of mentions.) It doesn’t get better as the students get older; in a popular high school history book, female historical figures are only 13% of those mentioned, and those women are mentioned, at most, on 6 pages, while some of the men were mentioned on as many as 36 pages. In their book Failing at Fairness: How America’s Schools Cheat Girls, researchers Myra and David Sadker noted: “When girls do not see themselves in the pages of textbooks…our daughters learn that to be female is to be an absent partner in the development of our nation.”

If girls don’t see women leaders highlighted and showcased right along with men, how will they grow up thinking they can be leaders themselves? And if boys don’t see women showcased, how will they grow up thinking that leaders can look like their mothers, their sisters, and their female friends? What messages are we sending our kids? We can do better than this.

If you are looking for great gifts celebrating women’s leadership for the girls and boys in your life, check our ally A Mighty Girl. Their site is chock-full of terrific ideas and awesome products to cultivate the strong, confident girls in your life (including some Star Wars products!) On our Teach a Girl to Lead™ site, you can also find suggested books and films featuring women public leaders to enjoy with your kids over the winter break. Or get the kids out of the house and visit one of the places celebrating women’s leadership on the Programs & Places Map.

Kids believe what they see, and I’m going to make sure my girls see women leaders as much as they can. At least they can watch the Star Wars Rebels show with these great characters, even if they can’t play with the toys they wanted yet. Every step counts, so onward we go.

Teaching Boys About Women Public Leaders

Following is a guest post from Brigid Avery. Brigid lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is a graduate of Aquinas College and the University of San Diego. She is currently the director of Alumni Engagement at Aquinas College. Brigid contacted us to share her support of Teach a Girl to LeadTM, and we are delighted to share her story. Do you have a great story, too? Tell us how you are educating your kids or your community about women’s public leadership, and we will share with our followers. Thanks, Brigid!

As the mother of two young boys, Emmett (4) and Leo (2), I am usually totally spent by the end of the day. They spend their days fighting bad guys as the moment’s chosen superhero, digging in anything remotely dirty and basically embody the phrase “all boy.” The sigh of relief comes when bath time is complete, their grubby little hands and faces are now sweet and clean, and we settle in for story time, a treasured routine in our home.

One book is surprisingly requested more often than any other book in our extensive library: Grace for President. Grace, a third grader is so upset that there has never been a “girl president” that she decides she would like to be president. The story explains, in a third grade kind of way, the electoral college, campaign promises, gender bias and equality. Not your typical toddler or preschool “boy” book, for sure.
Boys_Grace4President

After reading Grace a bajillion times, I can now recite the story from memory, we’ve had to order a replacement copy due to wear and tear, and I even had a Grace doll made for Emmett when he turned 2. I’ve been in contact with the author a couple of times and hopefully an adapted script of the book will make an appearance on the TAG resources page soon!

In the book, Grace listens to her constituents, makes good on her campaign promises, and works really hard. She is an example to every person, man or woman, what political leaders should be. Raising boys to respect women and believe in equality is all about exposure. If they only read books or watch movies where the President is a man, then how could they be expected to know anything different?

Tonight, I asked Emmett, “So, why should girls be President?” And he said, “Because girls make good leaders.” Be still my heart. I think I done good. Seriously though, how great is that?

I went on to tell him that a pretty sweet gig would be to be married to the President when he grows up…the First Gentleman. “You get to live in the White House, pick a few awesome projects to work on, and visit a lot of places.” He responded by saying he wanted to be the blue Ninja Turtle when he grows up. And handed me a Star Wars book to read next. Progress.

Take a Field Trip through Women's History

It’s hard to believe we’re back into the swing of the school year already. And going back to school means…field trips! This year, how about visiting one of the museums, historic locations, or places of interest that highlight the accomplishments of women civic leaders? Check out our Programs & Places map for ideas (select Field Trip from the dropdown). If your school or youth program is looking for some good ideas, or you’re looking for some weekend fun with your children, go see where women made history and discover courageous leaders who changed the world.

If you live near Skowhegan, Maine, for example, you could visit the Margaret Chase Smith Library, which honors the legacy of the first woman elected to both houses of Congress. Paulsdale in Mount Laurel, NJ, offers tours about the suffragist Alice Paul

Paulsdale in Mount Laurel, NJ
Paulsdale. Source: www.alicepaul.org.

and her life’s work for gender equality. The Maryland Women’s Heritage Center features women such as Lillie Carroll Jackson, a trailblazing activist known as the “mother of the civil rights movement” and the organizer of Baltimore’s first branch of the NAACP. The Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in Marion showcases the contributions women have made to Alabama and the nation. Students can learn about women such as Julia Strudwick Tutwiler, an early advocate of women’s rights who helped the first female students matriculate at the University of Alabama and who was also an activist for humane prison reform, or Idella Jones Childs, who became the first African American woman to serve on the Marion City Council and was a founding member of the Black Heritage Council.

The Michigan Women’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame showcases the achievements and history of Michigan women, including Cora Reynolds Anderson, the first woman elected to the Michigan House of Representatives and the only Native American woman elected to the Michigan House or Senate. Further west, the Salter House and Museum in Argonia, Kansas, honors Susanna Madora Salter, the first woman elected mayor in the United States. The Molly Brown House Museum in Denver, Colorado, shares the life of activist, philanthropist and Titanic survivor Margaret “Molly” Brown, including her involvement with the juvenile justice system, her work on women’s suffrage, and her run for Congress. At the Oklahoma Territorial Museum & Historic Carnegie Library in Guthrie, visitors get to hear about Oklahoma’s first female elected official, Kate Barnard, known for being a savvy politician and an excellent public speaker.

National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. Source: http://www.cowgirl.net.
National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. Source: http://www.cowgirl.net.

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas honors the women whose “courage, resilience, and independence…helped shape the American West,” including Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation and Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female member of the US Supreme Court.

And of course, you can’t miss the Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, NY.

Find more places that celebrate women’s accomplishments on our Programs & Places map and plan your visit. Know of any places of interest we should include? Tell us!

Summer Reading: Ruth's Recommendations

Ruth B. Mandel, Founder and former Director of the Eagleton's Center for American Women & PoliticsLooking for your next great read? Why not spend the summer getting inspired by incredible women public leaders? That’s my plan, and I don’t know anyone who has read more books about women in politics than Ruth B. Mandel, founder of the Center for American Women and Politics and currently director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics and Board of Governors Professor of Politics at Rutgers University. Ruth also wrote one of the seminal books on women candidates, In the Running: The New Woman Candidate – so naturally I turned to her for ideas.

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In her own words, here are Ruth’s recommendations for some great summer reads:

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
Given her recent death, Maya Angelou is on everyone’s mind. This book is worth reading or revisiting if you have already read it. In terms of politics, she influenced so many leaders in her life, from Martin Luther King, Jr., with whom she worked, to President Clinton, who selected her to write and recite a poem for his inauguration (the first African American and first female poet to do so.) I’ll never forget one time when she came and spoke to one of my classes. A student asked her a question and she sang her response. You caught your breath – there was something so beautiful and so powerful about this woman. She had gone through some of life’s most horrible experiences and lost her voice as a result of a trauma. But she rose from that childhood of poverty and extreme challenges to become a voice for everyone.
[Editor’s note – for young kids, check out Maya Angelou: Diversity Makes for a Rich Tapestry and Maya Angelou: Journey of the Heart.]

 

My Beloved WorldMy Beloved World – Sonia Sotomayor
The spirit of the book and the spirit of the person who wrote it are in the book title. It’s a pleasure to read. Justice Sotomayor embraces life, from the most difficult moments and challenges to great experiences. She gives a very personal, open and candid description of growing up in difficult circumstances but with a loving family and a community of beloved friends. She took on every new experience with a determination to do well and with a gusto for life and learning. You admire her when you finish reading the book and are in awe of her achievement of rising to the Supreme Court. But you could also imagine sitting down with her and feeling completely comfortable.
[Editor’s note – young kids can learn about Justice Sotomayor in A Judge Grows in the Bronx by Jonah Winter.]

 

Autobiography of Eleanor RooseveltThe Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt – Eleanor Roosevelt
Here’s the story of someone who comes from a very prominent family, whose childhood was difficult and painful…one disappointment after another. She did not have a life of emotional luxury. It’s a fascinating story of a woman who became a global leader through her role as First Lady and later her own appointment to the United Nations. Her leadership left us with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the most important document to light our way through the 21st century. That alone is enough to read her story. Ken Burns also has a new documentary coming out about her. Before that comes out, read her own book.

[Editor’s note – for young kids, check out Eleanor Roosevelt: First Lady of the World; Eleanor Roosevelt (First Biographies Series); and Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery.]

 

It’s My Party Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of AmericaIt's My Party Too – Christine Todd Whitman
There is a lot of discussion these days about what’s going on with the Republican party and the future of the party. This book is a good insider look at that debate from a lifelong Republican with a long political career, including serving as the only woman governor of New Jersey and as a presidential appointee. She’s been discussed as a possible vice presidential candidate, and she is now taking a leading role on climate change issues. Her thoughts about her party are definitely worth a read.

 

Living HistoryLiving History and Hard Choices – Hillary Rodham Clinton
I recommend these two books to everyone because they are about the life of the most important political woman of our time – someone who served as a First Lady, a US Senator, and Secretary of State. She was the first woman to be taken seriously as a Presidential candidate in 2008, and now, in the ramp-up to 2016, she is constantly on everyone’s minds. For that reason alone, women – and young women in particular – owe it to themselves to read her story in her own words.

[Editor’s note – for young kids, read Hillary Rodham Clinton: Dreams Taking Flight.]

 

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There you have it – six books on women public leaders with which to kick off your summer reading. Ruth would love to hear from you about what you think of these suggestions and if you have any suggestions of your own. Please share!

Unveiling Teach a Girl to Lead

On behalf of the Center for American Women and Politics, I am proud to unveil the web site for our newest initiative, Teach a Girl to Lead™ (TAG).  TAG is our national campaign to make women’s public leadership visible to the next generation. We want to re-envision what public leaders look like, inspire girls and young women to follow in their footsteps, and make women’s political leadership visible to America’s youth.  When young people – both girls AND boys – learn from an early age that public leaders can look like their mothers, aunts and grandmothers, they grow up with a broader and more inclusionary view of leaders and leadership, and that’s good for all of us.

The TAG site is full of useful resources to help all of us teach the young people in our lives and communities about women’s leadership and civic engagement. You can find lesson plans on women in politics.  There are also games and activities to help young people better understand the workings of their government and the roles that women play in the process, and exercises to enhance the capacity of girls and young women for public leadership. You can point young people toward our women and politics book list or encourage them to watch a film! Our Programs & Places Resource Map features girls’ leadership programs, including those with a focus public leadership, as well as coed civic leadership programs; historic sites where women leaders made history; and field trip ideas to show girls and boys about women’s political history.  But don’t just take our word for it – you can invite a woman public leader to speak to your class or youth program and let her tell you herself the difference women make in public office.  The Leaders Lineup can get you started with a searchable map of women leaders, along with sample invite letters and discussion questions. (Are you a woman public official? Please consider adding your name to the cadre of women leaders who have taken this pledge!)

One of the best and most heartening things about this project has been finding many excellent organizations and programs around the country already teaching children about civic and girls’ leadership and about women’s history and contributions to public life.  We have an incredible group of allied organizations dedicated to this work.  Many of their programs are on the Programs & Places map as mentioned above, and we look forward to featuring their programs and work as a part of this campaign. Sign up for our email newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get our regular recommendations, as well as updates and highlights from the TAG site and from our allied organization’s work.

None of this would be possible without the support of our sponsors – a special thanks to Connie Williams and the Hess Foundation, and the Embrey Family Foundation for their major program support, and to all our early donors for believing in this mission.

Thanks for joining us on this campaign.  Send us suggestions and follow us for ongoing updates!