OFFICIAL BLOGHER '10 LIVEBLOG: White House Project Invitation to Run and Closing Remarks

BlogHer Original Post

Welcome to the liveblog of the White House Project panel: Invitation to Run and Closing Remarks. Marie Wilson began by commending the women who have spoken today and saying how appreciative she is of everyone who was here today. We can train people to be confident, in addition to just the skills. And what breaks that confidence down is what people fear will come back at them. When you're in public office, people call to ask you "what did you do that for?"

"When I was blogging on Daily Kos last year, I was working with all of these amazing women, and I woke up one morning and saw how many people who had replied to my blog..." and it was hundreds of men. I wanted to reply to all of these, but after the experience, I felt tougher.

We have an opening right now, because of so many things. But what we have dealt with since we started this project, is there are a lot of people out there who don't realize how many women there are out there. But right now there's so much that's difficult out there due to the economic situation, that people are seeking change and diversification. People are saying "let's try a new resource" and looking at women to bring something different.

Openings don't last long. We need to get a lot of women into office now during this opening. How do we get lots of women in at once? That's what we're working at. The experiences that we have had from the foot of the table - because we have had to lead differently - are now the things in power. We need to get critical mass. We need to encourage a lot of people at one time. When we started The White House Project, one thing that stunned me was how scared people are of women's ambition. We put out a ballot of 20 people who could lead in America of different ages and backgrounds.

"When I showed my friends this ballot with these great women, they said 'that would be so scary.' My friend said it would be bad because people will think we're ambitious." She called some people and told them they'll be on a ballot and was expecting to hear a lot of people who didn't want to be on it. But all of these women thought it was a great idea. And after it was over, I got more calls from women asking "why wasn't I on that ballot?"

"The only way we will get to enough is if we encourage each other... Being in politics has been so good because the research in politics shows that unfortunately women have to be asked - often at least three times - before they will run. Therefore, one of the things you have to do is not only to run yourself, but in the next 24 hours to encourage somebody else to run for office. It's a serious business. People will run if you ask them. And because I've been doing this forever, if you don't do this within 24 hours, I have magic powers, something bad will happen to you if you don't."

If there are two men on one side of the table, two women on the other side of the table and there's a woman at the head of the table, people will assume the man is the leader of the group. If there is a woman at the head, they still will assume one of the men is the leader. We need to change this. We have to authorize each other all the time - we must make each other visible. It's about social media. It's about going to where people are - television shows, films that are shown, etc. - to see what's happening in women's leadership.

If you can't see people in real life, you've got to see them in another way. Run yourself. Make people visible. You can toot their horn. You have no idea how invisible women leaders are in America. "After Nancy Pelosi steps down, you will say she was one of the most powerful people that ever led the Congress."

"Finally, we have to figure out how to actually work together. It is time to lead. It is time for women to lead. But it will not happen if we're not joined to do it." In every country where we have gained parity, women joined together. In South Africa, the women got together and pushed for 30% representation. Twelve year-old girls stood together in Rwanda against the rebels. If they can do that, we can do this. The suffragettes thought we would have done this by now.

When we did the first "Take Our Daughters to Work" in 1993, little girls went to Brooklyn Union Gas and there were a lot of women up speaking and one girl asked about how boring the job was, and the woman replied that she wanted to be a singer. So this woman sang "Memories" in front of everyone there in front of the girls.

Our daughters are watching us and they do invite us to bring all parts of ourselves into the room and into the world. In this world right now, we need to bring all parts of ourselves into the body politic. I invite you in the name of our daughters, the women in Rwanda, and all of the women trained in this program to join and change this country, change the world by being joined and singing all our songs that have been left out."

Lisa Stone, "one of Marie's disciples." Asked when she's running, Lisa says (although she's really not running for political office): "I am running." What she meant by that is that she has learned a lot about making arguments for quality content in the board room and that's where some of the lack of women still is. "That is the other side of this coin." She wants to give us fundraising advice and to give advice about women sticking together to help push us up the hill to fight against the power structure.

It was a great afternoon of compelling speakers. Thank you everyone!

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