2018 is an exciting year for women in politics. A record number of women are running for office and have won primaries. They are rewriting the campaign rulebook and embracing their gender as an asset. Women aren’t letting much get in their way. But primary victory doesn’t guarantee victory for women in November, and challenges still remain.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, female Democratic primary winners for House seats raised $185,000 less than the average for men. Republican women have raised considerably less, on average, than the Democratic candidates they are running against. Bottom line: In the 2018 midterm elections, male political candidates are still raising more money than female candidates.
Funding gaps. Pay gaps. Women experience both. Whether it is in politics or the workplace, there remains a difference in the amount of money a woman and a man receives. It is unfair, and it should not be the sole responsibility of women to close the gaps. But women shouldn’t feel helpless either. Women in the political pipeline have opportunities to set themselves up for success at work and narrow the political funding gap. Start early with these three tips:
1. Network while you are working to develop a campaign support network.
An article with The New York Times attributes the funding gap to not having the “same network of business connections.” Take the time now to build your connections. The more people you know, the more opportunities you are exposed to. Create a large network. Research suggests that strong connections, while perhaps more satisfying, may not be as helpful as weak connections when it comes to achieving your career goals. Acquaintances allow you to tap into pools of networks you have not exhausted.
In building your network, don’t be afraid to connect with people who hold power or influence. You are equally important, and they will believe you are important if you believe it yourself. Develop a network of people that can support you in life and your future endeavors. These life connections may come in handy for whatever you choose to do in the future, including running a campaign.
2. Ask for a salary increase to raise money for your campaign.
The New York Times article also notes that the funding gap is due to women not having money to self-fund their campaigns. For the House, millionaire Scott Wallace is self-funding his campaign, beating a woman candidate in the primary in my congressional district in Pennsylvania. David Trone has contributed nearly 97% of the funds to run his campaign in Maryland. In contrast, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, while raising the most money of any woman running, contributed less than 1% of her own money.
People who can self-finance have an advantage. Start closing the funding gap today by getting paid your value at work. Do your research, and leverage salary information you can get your hands on through the Internet and colleagues. Ask for a raise. Any extra money that you can save can help.
Start developing your coffer so you have money to use for future endeavors, whether it is to finance a new business endeavor or your campaign. As much as you need the support of other people, you need to support yourself first. Depend on yourself to get you to where you want to be.