Issues + Advocacy

Why I Won’t Be Skipping the Debates

Women and allies, let's mobilize.

I spend a lot of time thinking about — and loudly advocating for — women’s economic power. It’s my core belief that women will never be equal until we have access to the economic rights and freedoms white men have always enjoyed. And this cannot happen until we have equal pay for equal work, representation in leadership, guaranteed parental leave, and until we’ve reframed motherhood as an asset in the professional world — not a liability.

I use my platform daily to call attention to these issues and more than once have publicly demanded that corporate leaders tackle them head-on. Those in power must commit to driving gender equity in their companies, starting by amplifying women’s voices and ensuring they are represented at the top. I also recognize that, as women claim more seats in the boardroom, the C-Suite, and other positions of power in the private sector, there’s another place we must continue to show up and show up in greater numbers: the polls. We simply can’t build women’s power in business without building and deploying women’s political strength. 

We simply can’t build women’s power in business without building and deploying women’s political strength. 

It’s difficult to overstate the weight women have on our elections. According to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics (CAWC), women have voted in higher numbers than men in every election since 1964. In fact, 63.3 percent of eligible female adults voted in the last presidential election, compared to just 59.3 percent of eligible male adults. Not bad. But we can definitely do better.

As the CAWC points out, it’s not just a difference in the rate at which men and women vote — there’s a contrast in how we vote too. Our willingness to support one candidate or another is statistically affected by if we identify as male or female. This phenomenon — known as the gender gap — has occurred in every presidential election since 1980. Notably, in the 2016 election, men were 11 percentage points likelier than women to vote for Trump. (Are we surprised?)

Women wield enormous power in elections and, if we truly want a future of equity for all, we need to take fuller advantage. Leading up to the 2020 election, I am – and my company, The Riveter, is – committed to leveraging our national platform to foster brave conversations and lead to meaningful action. That’s why we launched The Riveter 2020: We Decide: to provide resources, network, and tools for the political advancement of women, the same way we offer resources, network, and tools for the professional advancement of women.

This is why we are bringing candidates to The Riveter (we recently welcomed Senator Kamala Harris, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senators Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, with more to come) — because we believe all women and allies, not just high-dollar donors — should have the opportunity to hear from those trying to win our votes. Any candidate who centers and celebrates the power of women and engages allies in creating equity across gender is someone we want to know about. 

Any candidate who centers and celebrates the power of women and engages allies in creating equity across gender is someone we want to know about. 

This is also why we are providing as much space and momentum as we can for the leaders and activists who have been in this fight; groups like IGNITE, which fuels the next generation of women in office, and Vote Run Lead, which works to get women into all 519,682 elected positions in the United States (yes, there are that many), and Supermajority, an incredible initiative to organize women as the collective power we are. And we are going to have fun and feel hopeful while we do it. We need to watch the debates. We need to know what candidates are saying to, and about, women, and we need to — we get to — do it together. So we’re hosting debate viewing parties across The Riveter locations and giving you the tools to watch along at home.

The upcoming 2020 elections are an unprecedented opportunity for women to recognize, build and utilize their political power to change the course of this country and demand equity for all. 

This is a right we have won. And, though it took far too long to reach women of color, and voter suppression is still an enormous issue, unlike parental leave, unlike pay equity, unlike diversity of leadership, our right to vote is written into the Constitution of the United States. Let’s claim it loud and clear. See you at the polls.