Elect Her: UConn mobilizes women leaders

The Women's Center is hosting Elect Her: UConn Women Win Training this Friday, Feb. 3. The offices of the Women's Center and Violence Against Women Protection Program are located on the fourth floor of the Student Union. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

The UConn Women’s Center is hosting Elect Her: UConn Women Win Training this Friday, Feb. 3, to educate women on the campaign process.

The event is hosted with Running Start, a non-profit that seeks to expose young women, from high school to college to those 35 and up, “give them the skills they need to be leaders,” according to the Running Start website.

“Participants can expect an interactive and dynamic workshop,” Assistant Director of the Women’s Center Kathy Fischer said. “There will be a variety of speakers and Senator Mae Flexer will be the keynote. This training will demystify the campaign process, teach participants how to develop and communicate an effective message, provide opportunities to learn from experienced facilitators and women in elected positions and to network with women with similar interests.”

Marissa Piccolo, Associate Opinion Editor for the Daily Campus and political science and economics major, is attending today’s event.

“I'm participating in Elect Her to learn effective strategies for campaigning, and to support other UConn women who are also interested in politics and potentially running for office,” Piccolo said. “I strongly believe we need more women in politics, to empower women, to get things done and to make our democracy more representative and vibrant.”

Fischer echoes similar sentiments about the need for women to run and points to the importance of women becoming involved.

“The mission of the Women’s Center is to educate, advocate and provide support services for the achievement of women’s equity at the university and within the community at large,”
Fischer said.  “We are always interested in providing programs and training that supports and develops women’s leadership. We know that women are significantly underrepresented in public office, particularly women of color. We want to help to change that.”

Piccolo, who plans to run for office after law school, is currently conducting research on women in government.

“Women are less likely to see themselves as future candidates, but also I believe the public is still not completely receptive to female candidates - or may subconsciously view them differently, as female candidates have to often work harder to show they are 'tough' or 'serious,'” Piccolo said. “A lot has to change, but I think it starts with addressing low political ambition, building confidence, empowering young women to take risks, do things before they may not feel ‘ready’ and not be scared of failure - which there is certainly a lot of in political life.”

Elect Her came to UConn in 2010 when it was selected as one of the first 10 programs in the country, initially directed through American Association of University Women (AAUW) before Running Start took over in 2017.

The success of this program is noticeable, according to Fischer.

“Several women that have participated in our program in the past have run for USG and others have joined USG committees,” Fischer said. “One person ran for an elected position in her hometown and won. I believe many participants have become more civically engaged and confident in their political power.”

The number of women who can attend is capped for this year, but students can register for future Elect Her events, held annually in early February.


Elizabeth Charash is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at elizabeth.charash@uconn.edu.