BEND, OR -- Just over half of America’s population is female; yet, only about a quarter of elected positions, nationwide, are currently held by women, according to a Rutgers University study. Chelsea Callicott says the idea for this week's "25%" forum in Bend came from learning of that low number, and seeing how women are often treated when they run for office, "I’ve heard it so many times, ‘smart and pretty!’ When is men’s appearance really commented on? But, for women, we’re just vicious. ‘Kankles;’ the kankle phrase came up. It’s – yeah; we’re mean."
Despite the national statistic, Callicott says Oregon is doing better, "It’s ranked number nine, so we actually have a larger percentage of women both serving and running." And, she's encouraged by the number of local woman running, this November, "Of all those running this fall, there are a lot running against incumbents, which is definitely an uphill battle. So, there’s still not necessarily a huge amount of them expected to win. But, you are seeing in droves, a lot of women running for politics; and that’s really the purpose of this event."
She says her public discussion, hosted by The World Muse, will also look at the double standards that often keep women off the campaign trail, "There’s a confidence level that often is lacking in women candidates and so it, I think, sometimes comes across as overzealousness or, perhaps, angry, or these qualities that just, we don’t allow or appreciate in women." And, she tells KBND News, "To be a successful woman running for office, you have to be more articulate – you just have to be on your ‘A’ game, there’s no room for sloppiness. And, because we judge women more harshly than men, women actually have to be likable as a candidate. Men can win and not be likable."
Wednesday's event starts at 6 p.m. at the Liberty Theater and will be moderated by humorist Shanan Kelley. Panelists include Cheri Helt, a Republican running for Bend's State House seat, Amy Lowes, a Democrat running for Deschutes County Commissioner, Sally Russell, running for Bend Mayor and Gena Goodman-Campbell, running for Bend City Council. Click HERE for tickets. To listen to our full conversation about women in politics with Chelsea Callicott, visit our Podcast Page.