SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – The percentage of women seeking elected office in Utah is continuing to grow. Experts claim there is still a ways to go, and women still face road blocks when seeking an elected position.
Of all the people running for elected office in Utah 29 percent are women. Compared to just 24 percent in 2012.
Morgan Lyon Cotti, The State Program Manager for the Hinckley Institute of Politics, notes that one of the biggest issues is getting women to run for office in the first place.
“Everything says they win at the same rates as men, but you can’t win if you don’t run,” said Cotti.
She points out that in many cases female candidates feel they aren’t qualified enough to run, and put barriers on themselves. With Hillary Clinton running for office Cotti believes it’s spurring women to run from both sides of the aisle.
“A lot of people talk about that pipeline affect you can’t be something you can’t see,” said Cotti. “So if we see a woman at the top of the ticket we see a number of women running for US Senate. We are having more and more women running and winning in the US House.”
One place this is being seen is in the soon to be city of Millcreek. There are races for four city council seats, but in three of those races the only candidates are women. Which means the council will be made up of a majority of women.
Council Candidate Silvia Catten said she’s not surprised the number of women running for local office. She notes how involved everyone seemed to be eve before Millcreek was set to become a city.
“The fact there are women running along side me, and will basically build this city from the ground up is really empowering,” said Catten
Experts note the importance of having women in both the private and public sector. Studies have shown when women make up more of corporate boards there tends to be less instances of fraud and corporate maleficence.
Cotti points out women in government can bring new issues to the table along with ideas on how to tackle them.
“The way governing bodies work is just different when you have one, two, or three women on there,” said Cotti. “They talk about different issues and they are more likely to address education.”
Experts notes it’s important for women to seek smaller offices like city councilors and mayors. It’s often where they gain experience and can be recruited to run for state and national offices.