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Think women don't win elections? They do. And more of them should run.

Women are just as electable as men — they just need to get on the ballot.

Think women don't win elections? They do. And more of them should run.

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

In February 2017, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used these words to defend silencing Sen. Elizabeth Warren after invoking an obscure rule during her speech on the Senate floor.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is one of 21 women currently serving in the U.S. Senate. Photo via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.


The dynamic was striking: A strong, opinionated woman was directly and vehemently shut down by a powerful man in politics.

It wasn't particularly surprising, though — men in power have silenced their female counterparts for much of U.S. history, and we're still barely emerging from that norm.

Remember the above image of the Freedom Caucus discussing whether the Republican health care bill should repeal maternity, prenatal, and newborn coverage? This is what happens when women's voices are missing politics — we get rooms full of men making decisions that directly affect women.

There are more than 500,000 elected offices in the U.S. Currently, women hold 25% of them.

Women make up about 51% of the population, yet Congress is 80% male. Just six states have women governors. Out of the 100 largest cities in the U.S., only 22 have women mayors.

Representation matters, and we don't have it yet.

The good news is that women win elections just as often as men — when they run.

This lack of female representation in politics irked activist and entrepreneur Erin Loos Cutraro. So she founded She Should Run, a nonpartisan organization that encourages women to run for office and helps them along that journey. Lush's Charity Pot program has helped fund the organization, which recently launched the #250KBY2030 campaign, with the goal of getting 250,000 women running for office by 2030.

That means encouraging women we know to run and inspiring young people to dream big. It's one thing to say women should run for office, but it's another to figure out how to make that happen.

She Should Run founder and CEO Erin Loos Cutraro spoke with me to share how the #250KBY2030 campaign can help get women on the ballot.

The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Since She Should Run was founded in 2011, nearly 40,000 women have been encouraged to run for office through the program. Image via She Should Run.‌

What prompted you to found She Should Run?

After being involved in politics for a number of years, I decided that it was time to change the playbook, because we needed different outcomes with who we saw on the ballot across the country.

Now, as a mother to two daughters, I can't sit by without doing everything possible to ensure that girls in the next generation grow up in a world where they are equal to everyone else and have the same opportunities as anyone.

Why is it so important for 250,000 to run by 2030? Why that number and that date?

There are over 500,000 elected offices in this country and it is our mission to see at least half the ballots filled with women in this lifetime rather than the next. This is a big goal, but we believe that is possible by 2030.

To achieve this goal and close the gender gap, people from all backgrounds and walks of life must come together and support women leaders in their communities.

Photo by Lush Cosmetics.

What specific challenges do women tend to face when running for office?

We know that when women run, they win at the same rate as men. They're just not running.

That doesn't mean that there aren't challenges — like fears about raising money, balancing home, work, and campaigning, and other barriers unique to women — but the bigger challenge is convincing women of all walks of life that they have something to give to their communities and their country and to put their names on the ballot.

Does it matter if women run under a particular party?

When I started She Should Run, it was tremendously important that our organization be nonpartisan, because we know that we are not going to get the best policies if the brightest people representing all perspectives do not have a seat at the table.

That why it's our mission to have women from all backgrounds, walks of life, and all across the political spectrum raising their hands to run for office.

What kind of women should run for office?

This a very short answer: Any woman who wants to make a difference in her community, state, or country. ‌‌

When we say #SheShouldRun, we're talking to each and every one of you—women from all backgrounds, from all walks of...

Posted by She Should Run on Thursday, March 8, 2018

What’s the first step a woman should take if she thinks she wants to run for office?

Join She Should Run. Our programs are designed to give women the tools they need to be ready to run.

Our one-of-a kind Incubator helps women in our community get specific on why they want to run and the impact they'll make in elected office. Once they've made the decision to run, we demystify resources available for additional support on their journeys to elected leadership.

Joining the Incubator also gives women access to a community made up of thousands of other women who are in various stages on their paths to public office.

What can women who can't/don't want to run for office do to support women who are considering it?

If there is a woman in your community who you believe would be great in office, encourage her to consider running! Our Ask a Woman to Run tool is a quick, easy way for you to tell us about great women leaders you know who should consider a run for office.

Explain why you believe she would be a strong leader and what she could bring to the table with her personal experience and narrative. Then point her to She Should Run and our flagship program, the Incubator, that can help her take that next step on her path to public office.

Many of us know a woman who would be a great leader would be a tremendous problem solver for her community; oftentimes, she just needs that extra push.

Additionally, women can work or volunteer to support women candidates who they believe in. There are a record-breaking number of women running for office across the country at every level of government — state, local, and federal.

Giving time and/or resources to a campaign is also a great way to see if you want to run for office and to gain invaluable experience for a future run.

What specific role do you think men should play to empower/encourage women to run for office?

Everyone is necessary for us to achieve our goals of political parity and most certainly to get to #250KBY2030. Men can be mentors, supporters, and staffers to female candidates. They can also raise their daughters to be strong, ambitious women and support the women in their lives when they decide to throw their hats in the rings.

Where can women find more information about what elected offices are open and how to go about running?

Our first-of-its-kind She Should Run Incubator offers resources and a community that meets women where they are in their paths to elected leadership.

The community aspect provides a wealth of knowledge from women all over the country running for office at various levels of government who share their stories and experiences that prove to be useful for other women running for office.

The Incubator's unique approach focuses our members on why they want to run and the impact they'll make in elected office. And we demystify resources available once women in our community have made the decision to run.

Image via She Should Run.

We also recently launched a new tool called Pinpoint, an interactive tool that allows you to find and share valuable educational resources that focus on running and serving in elected office. There are so many local organizations that can assist a woman in running for office, so we made it easier for women to search for them!

All of these programs and tools are designed to simplify a woman's path to elected office.

Bottom line: We need more women to run for office, and She Should Run is offering the tools to help make it happen. Let's use them to give more girls and women a seat at the table.

She Should Run is supported, in part, by Lush Cosmetics' Charity Pot program, which funds grassroots organizations fighting for human rights, animal welfare and environmental protection. Learn more at She Should Run and Lush USA.

via Pixabay

Talking about politics at work can be a really touchy situation. It's good for people to be able to express themselves in the office. But it can lead to serious tension when people don't see eye-to-eye. It can be especially difficult when a company takes a hard line on a controversial issue that employees are forced to stand behind.

So Basecamp, a project management software company based in Chicago, has just decided to ban talking about politics at work altogether. It seems the company tried to foster an open atmosphere but it backfired.

"Sensitivities are at 11, and every discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy, or society at large quickly spins away from pleasant," co-founder Jason Fried wrote in a post on the company website.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pixabay

Talking about politics at work can be a really touchy situation. It's good for people to be able to express themselves in the office. But it can lead to serious tension when people don't see eye-to-eye. It can be especially difficult when a company takes a hard line on a controversial issue that employees are forced to stand behind.

So Basecamp, a project management software company based in Chicago, has just decided to ban talking about politics at work altogether. It seems the company tried to foster an open atmosphere but it backfired.

"Sensitivities are at 11, and every discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy, or society at large quickly spins away from pleasant," co-founder Jason Fried wrote in a post on the company website.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."