White House Project lends women political patronage

For hundreds of years, politics has been a man’s game. The White House Project is determined to change that. The project is a non-profit organization whose goal is to get women into politics and leadership roles. It is done through teaching women how to run campaigns.

“We’re looking to get a diverse group of women to run for political office and run alongside men,” said Shannon Garret, a representative of the project.

The project began 10 years ago and found its way to Eastern Michigan University. It was founded by Marie Wilson, who is also the president of the Ms. Foundation for Women. She had been getting letters from young girls who wrote to her about being president and getting to other high offices. Mrs. Wilson made the project to give the girls a fighting chance. The program’s first office in Michigan opened in December of 2007.

EMU’s own director of Institutional Assessment, Denise Reiling, is active in the project. She teaches introduction to applied sociology. The goal of the class is not only to teach, but also to help the students find a career.

Garrett said women bring more empathy to office than men. With that they bring long-term planning, diversity and honesty to the role. The project is looking to overcome what they call the First and Only syndrome. This is when someone of a certain race or gender becomes the first one in that position. Normally, the public ignores their agenda and focuses on their race or gender. Recent examples are President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Government on a local level is important to the project, too. It was stated anyone could run for a small office for a relatively small amount of money. Even spots in small organizations like the PTA are important.

“Authenticity is the most important characteristic for a candidate. They should be honest and not change who they are depending on what crowd they are talking to,” Garrett said.

It seems as though the White House Project is in full swing. Expect to see more women in high positions in the future. One can only predict the affect they will have on politics at this point.


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