I am fortunate that growing up in California I always saw strong female leaders. Whether it was our two female senators or even people here in San Diego who have been in positions of power like Chris Kehoe or Tony Atkins or Susan Davis. So it’s been really nice to see that. But I do think that’s it’s definitely true. This wasn’t something I was thinking about and it did take some encouragement and asking. I think they say that on average it takes a woman being asked eight times before she’ll decide to run.
A study I read that I found really interesting was that after there’s a female candidate, you see a new crop of female candidates running for office a few years later. And it’s partially because they see someone who looks like them doing it. But it’s mostly because the people around them, and the adults in their lives, talk to them about politics in a different way when there is a female candidate in an important race.
And that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to run. I wanted to make sure that all of the young women who are getting involved in politics for the first time, and feeling engaged, feel like they can make a difference and they don’t have to wait. And they can do really great things.
I think what we’re seeing is that there are all of these issues that we need more women in office to be able solve. For instance, I didn’t need the #MeToo movement to tell me that sexual harassment in the workplace was a problem because I’ve lived it and so have so many others. And we’ve seen what it looks like when a room full of men try to legislate on women’s health. We’ve also seen that time and again that it’s women – from both sides of the aisle – who come together to actually pass bipartisan legislation.
So we need more women to run so that more women can win so that we can have more women in office. And have more than 20 percent of Congress be women. I think we all know that if we actually want investments in affordable child care or universal health care that includes women’s health, or quality public education or honestly, to get anything done in a gridlocked Washington, then we’re going to need more women at the table.
So we have never had a woman in her twenties serve in Congress. But we’ve had 122 men. And some figures you might recognize actually were elected at 29 like John F. Kennedy and Joe Biden. So I think while I am young, I know that I have the experience and the qualifications and the know-how to be able to be a good representative for our district and the really get things done.
And I think it is telling that we’ve been able to elect men in their 20s since the first Congress but not women. And it’s partly because of how we view leadership. I often get told that my voice is too high or I don’t look like a leader because we’ve been trained to look at leadership like Spartacus [a Roman-era warrior].
So part of this is actually re-training people’s minds into what leadership looks like. I’ve actually had people tell me that I don’t look right sitting at the head of the table. But they don’t know why. So we have to tell people that it feels subconsciously weird to hear my voice and to see me as the leader because they have never seen it before. And because they have never seen it before is why they need to vote for me.