The main take away is this: We need to spend more time encouraging women to run for office. All women, but especially young women. And all offices, even college student government. Now, I don't want to say I told you so, but I did. It's not too late to keep that New Year's Resolution.
Another take away from the study has gotten even more attention: it means more for a young woman's future political ambition to work and be involved in politics at all than it does to simply have the role models of women in office in front of her. Here's how study co-author Jennifer Lawless put it to the Atlantic:
"Certainly having Nancy Pelosi be speaker of the House suggests that a woman can get elected and become speaker of the House and that's a vital ingredient," Lawless said. "But having an internship in any member of Congress' office probably confers a greater degree of confidence, experience, skills, and interest in terms of someone's own future potential candidacy than the mere presence of a female speaker."
Ok, so how do we get more young women working in politics? There are some remarkable resources. Here are a few:
The Star Fellowship at Running Start. This program not only places college women in internships on Capitol Hill with housing and a living stipend but also provides them with ongoing mentoring and support throughout their time in Washington and long after they leave. Applications for Fall 2013 are due April 8!!!
The Women's Congressional Staff Association. More than just a networking group for Hill staffers (although it's that too) WCSA runs a mentoring program that pairs staffers with more senior women on the Hill for four-month stints. In a unique twist, the program requires all women requesting a mentor to also serve as a mentor to someone more junior than herself. This not only solves the problem of a shortage of mentors that some programs have, but also reminds even relatively junior staffers that they have something valuable to offer others.
Do you have other ideas? An opening in your office? Comment below!