LOUISVILLE, Ky- A record number of women are currently serving in the U-S Congress, and while most people think that’s a good thing, a Kentucky–based film maker says even more young ladies could follow in their political footsteps if only they were encouraged to do so. Reporter Chase Cavanaugh has the details.
On a recent field trip to our nation’s capital, a volunteer from Running Start, a group emphasizing female empowerment, asked a busful of young girls a rather compelling question.
"How many of you think you'll be runnning for office before you're thirty" Only three girls raised their hands.
This introductory scene is pivotal to Raising Ms. President, a documentary by Louisville filmmaker Kiley Lane Parker that hopes to get more women involved in politics.
"There didn’t seem to be much about the how and why. Why aren’t there more women in office and how do we get more women to run?" Parker said.
When asked why they wouldn’t go into politics, some women say they aren’t qualified for the job. Others worry about a choice between work and raising a family. Whatever the reason, Parker says the biggest problem is interest.
"What we’ve found through our research is that ambition starts early. Really the reason behind why there aren’t more women wanting to run for office, they aren’t more ambitious toward that end goal still today," she noted.
Much of the film focuses on how to fix this ambition gap. It shows outreach groups that teach high school and college girls about government and the ways they can get involved. Politicians are also getting in on the act, including Attica Scott of Louisville.
"People who are in political positions like me need to reach back and say here’s an opportunity for you, take advantage of it," she said.
Scott campaigned while Raising Ms. President was filmed, and currently represents Louisville’s first district. Although a successful politician, she worries that the lack of “role models” discourages other women from following the same path.
“Less than half of Louisville Metro Council, on which I serve, is female. Those kinds of issues and dynamics and realities raise concerns for me. It just makes me wonder, what message does that send to my daughter? Does she see herself in this picture?" Scott said.
Some believe this isn’t just a local concern. Kentucky congressman John Yarmuth believes the lack of female representation can affect the state as a whole.
"The fact that there are so women in Kentucky politics, particularly in the General Assembly, is contributing to our relatively low standard of living, compared with a lot of other states," he said.
He argues that women are more sensitive to specific issues, such as day care, education, and health. With few females advocating for them, these services are likely to be neglected or even cut.
“The things that have fought for over the years, they almost seem like lone voices," Yarmuth said.
Raising Ms. President hopes to turn these lone voices into a chorus of female empowerment. The film is currently seeking launch funds with a Kickstarter campaign that runs through July 6th. Additional information on the film and campaign can be found at its website.