Some have declared 2010 "The Year of the Woman" in politics. More apt, we should dub this year "The Year of the Businesswoman". Take a close look at the names on the fall election ballot. Many are seasoned businesswomen taking their first steps into the political arena.
This year 278 women are active candidates for governor, House and Senate in races across the country. Only the states of Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana and North Dakota do not have any women running.
Not since 1992, when a record number of women were voted into Congress has this "Year of the Woman" term been used. Then there were 256 female candidates on the ballot, 22 fewer than today.
Top of mind are Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman in the state of California. Fiorina is the former CEO of Hewlett Packard and the Republican nominee for the California Senate seat against Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer. Whitman is the former CEO and President of eBay now running on the Republican ticket for Governor of California. The media is atwitter covering these two candidates, dubbing them the Republican Thelma and Louise of the Golden State. Yet while Whitman and Fiorina may be receiving a bulk of the coverage due to their near celebrity status, businesswomen across the nation are shifting into public service roles.
In South Carolina, Nikki Haley is the Republican nominee for the gubernatorial race. Haley is a member of the South Carolina Board of Representatives and immediately prior ran her family's multi-million dollar clothing company. Another newcomer is Linda McMahon, the Republican nominee for the Senate race in Connecticut. Until last year, she, along with her husband, operated World Wrestling Entertainment, a business they grew from 13 employees to well over 500 employees.
Republicans aren't alone on the businesswoman turned politician trend. After a 26-year career in business, most recently as the president of Florida Operations for Bank of America, Alex Sink is Florida's Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Sink is currently the Chief Financial Officer for the state. In Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo is the Democratic nominee for General Treasurer. Raimondo is a lawyer turned venture capitalist and co-founder of Judith Point Capital, a Rhode Island venture capital investment firm.
With unemployment at nearly 10% and our economy showing little sign of meaningful recovery, Americans yearn for new solutions. Women bring fresh faces to the political arena and, in many cases, the business acumen to put our economy back on track.
America needs an economic kick start and it only makes sense to turn to leaders who have a track record of proven results. These business women have established themselves as innovators and risk takers, turning profits where others could not. They have managed budgets in their companies, created jobs for their communities, and built new products and ideas to fuel economic growth.
With job creation as a top priority, demonstrated business savvy is exactly what this financial climate is calling for. Regardless of political leanings, this macro-trend of forward-thinking businesswomen entering the political arena could be just the jumpstart our economy needs.