This Thursday, March 11th the Women’s Campaign Forum, a non-partisan national network dedicated to achieving parity for women in public office will hold a big, fancy fundraiser in New York City known as the “parties of your choice gala.” This is the 30th year that the event has been held and the entire reason for the event is spelled out on the cover of the invitation: getting more women into positions of power within the government. Also on the invitation are quotes from political powerhouses who give thanks to the Women’s Campaign Forum for helping them to become elected. Geraldine Ferraro noted “WCF was there for me in my first campaign.” Senator Barbara Boxer said, “It it hadn’t been for WCF, I wouldn’t have come to Washington.”
I’ll be at the event as an author, discussing the research I found in two books about women and the United States presidency. I’ve been asked to condense my findings in a one-minute “elevator speech” so to speak, so here’s the ‘blog version.’ In two books, Paving the Way for Madam President (Lexington Books, 2008) and Almost Madam President: Why Hillary Clinton ‘won’ in 2008 I have uncovered some successful traits of “must dos” for women presidential candidates. Since I study speech and I’m not a political scientist, I’ll stick to the stylistic needs of women candidates.
Dos for women to be FORCES as candidates:
F orceful Announcement of your candidacy. Declare you want to win. Do not hesitate, because doing so will cast doubt on not only your candidacy, but your ability to govern once elected. Women candidates must show they are in and “in to win” (not settle for the vice presidency.)
O ut-smart everyone by knowing all the issues inside and out. If you are not sure of something pertaining to the election, do not run until you do. Women’s lack of knowledge is magnified on the campaign trail.
R ock your workout and get into the best physical shape of your life. Campaigning is tough and you must have stamina.
C ut a predictable figure in your clothes. Develop a clothing style that is easy to wear, simple and is predictable. Same with your hair: easy, simple and predictable.
E xhibit rhetorical elasticity: the public speaking style that moves from a masculine to a feminine style with ease.
S lough off the media criticism. It will come.
This a list of “must dos” for women candidates. We will have more women in government when they run their campaigns as the FORCES they are.
Nichola D. Gutgold is an associate professor of communication arts and sciences at Penn State Lehigh Valley. www.nicholagutgold.com