Is there any woman that does not believe that she deserves a paycheck equivalent to that of her male counterpart? Paycheck inequity is not a new issue, in fact even fifty years after the passage of the 1963 Equal Pay Act women continue to earn an average of 77.5 cents per dollar that a male with an equal skill set and qualifications earns. Sadly, the gap is even wider for African American and Hispanic women, at 62 cents and 54 cents, respectively. Earlier this month the Senate Republicans blocked a vote to advance the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199) to the Senate floor. The current White House administration has asserted they will continue to support and work for paycheck equity; nonetheless today’s make-up of the Senate doesn’t bode well for further action in the near future. The current make-up of the Senate is comprised of only 20 women: 16 Democrats and 4 Republicans. Since women tend to lean Democrat, it is a viable argument that if more women ran for office, they would likely be Democrats and would work to advance women’s issues, including paycheck fairness.
But how do we get more women into Congress so that they can vote for women’s issues? How do we inspire women to run for local and state offices so that they can eventually seek higher, national offices? We must ensure that potential women candidates are identified, educated, motivated, and most importantly, supported when they run for political office at all levels of government. The Emerge America (www.emergeamerica.org) and Emerge Kentucky (www.emergeky.org) programs are the premier training ground to prepare women to run for and to seek higher political office, and I am honored to be a member of the 2014 Emerge Kentucky class.
During our most recent all-day training session in Northern Kentucky, Courtney Foley, Deputy National Director of the Sierra Club, focused on developing a ground operation for a campaign. Each class participant calculated the true time commitment to effectively run a race at any level – local, county and state. What an eye-opening experience to realize that to reach an undecided voter and hopefully “swing” them to our side, we need to complete seven “touches” through direct, personal contact! As a career mom who travels frequently for work, it was quite a reality check to sit down and schedule time for door to door walking, fundraising calls, and attending various summer events like parades, festivals and fairs. Running for office is a huge commitment for anyone, particularly for working moms. However with the training I have received from the Emerge program since January, I feel more confident in preparing an engaging campaign message; I have an understanding of how to reach voters in my area efficiently and effectively; and most importantly, I have a network of amazing and inspiring Emerge women who are with me every step of the way.
 National Women’s Law Center, “Women of Color Fact Sheet”, April 2012.