Written By: Hillary Costa
Having the National Governor’s Association meeting in Rhode Island is special in its own right, but in such a small state, it is all the more awe striking.
I flew up from work in South County through down pours and traffic Thursday evening to get to the Omni Hotel for a special meet and greet with Iowa Governor, Kim Reynolds. I pulled up to the valet through a sea of seemingly unending black Escalades; surely the transport of choice for many of the gubernatorial teams in town.
Heading to the elevator I felt like a lone fish swimming against a school as Governor Gina Raimondo with entourage in tow, Representative Joe Trillo, and various other gubernatorial staffers brushed passed. Although late, I was happy to get my place in the back of the room just before Governor Reynolds began speaking with the sold out room.
While the Governor was wearing the typical female public servant uniform of a pant suit, for some reason, I never got an elitist, long-time serving vibe. She was just like you and me.
“My husband told me you either need to run for the office and make these changes you have been coming home and talking about for four years, or stop talking about it all together,” said Governor Reynolds on her first Senate campaign in 2008 as the senator from the 48th district.
I thought to myself how her husband’s words needed to be uttered to so many in our country. How many times have you been speaking with someone and they constantly talk about what needs to get done, but when told to get involved or do something about it, the notion is brushed off and the passion fades? I thought about her theme of collaboration and lifting fellow women up in public service as I waited in line to meet with her personally.
“When you speak with women about considering running for office, what are the most common responses and reasons you hear for why they can’t run and what are your responses?” I asked her.
“I always hear, ‘Oh, I am not qualified to run. I know nothing about how that office runs,’” said Governor Reynolds. “But what women seem to forget is you don’t have to know it all or do it all. You have to surround yourself with the right team and that is what makes a successful office for the people.”
“You find that is even the case in the general workforce as well for women,” I continued.
Too often, we see men push past women for opportunities they aren’t afraid to take whether they are qualified or not. Why are men more willing to take the leap? Because they’ve witnessed other men do the same and been told they’re worth it and possible.
So how do we change that?
- Take your daughter to a city council/school committee meeting
- Tell your girl friends to come to a student government meeting with you
- Network (in person) after work
But most importantly, let’s elevate each other, ladies. We’re not competing against one another. Get out of your comfort zone every single day and don’t let anyone ever let you feel like you’re “unqualified.”