Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate made history by swearing-in a record-breaking 20 female senators -- four Republicans and 16 Democrats -- in office. And in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, among the senators there was unanimity in predicting, and hoping, that there will be a female president soon, perhaps as early as 2016.
We've been hearing this ever since Geraldine Ferraro was nominated for Vice President way back in 1984, and then with Sarah Palin in the 2008 cycle. Along the way we've had strong role models -- Condoleezza Rice, Hilary Clinton, and on the global stage Germany's Angela Merkel and Australia's Julia Gillard, to name a few. But we've got a long way to go.
Here's what's new and here's why the way the White House is supporting GirlPower in politics may be on track to have a solid impact. On Saturday, January 5, 2013, I had the opportunity to participate in the White House Equal Futures App Challenge L.A. event held at Cross Campus in Santa Monica, CA.
I was super impressed by the mission: The challenge to young women and girls is to create an app to inspire other young women and girls to serve as leaders in democracy. I was equally impressed with the team that came together to make it happen: The event was produced by Lora O'Connor of Citizen Global and co-hosted by Kevin Winston of Digital L.A. and Silicon Beach Women.
The part I helped facilitate was one of the 'codeathons' that took place simultaneously in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Boston. Young women and girls were teamed with app developers, designers, and other technologists from their area.
We had five teams who spent a couple of hours in ideation and development and then presented their ideas. Some of the app ideas from our group included a 1) 'SimCity-type" game, which lets girls be the mayor of a town to run its budget and resource allocation and other problem-solving and 2) an app that helps K-12 girls prepare to run for office at school by providing organizational, promotional and logistical tools. Super cool.
The apps need to be submitted to the White House by January 19, 2013. And check out the eye-popping list of highly visible folks who have signed on to act as judges:
- Anna Maria Chavez, CEO, Girl Scouts
- Geena Davis, Academy Award-Winning Actor; Founder, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
- Jack Dorsey, Creator and Co-Founder, Twitter; Founder and CEO, Square
- Tiffany Dufu, President, the White House Project
- Jocelyn Goldfein, Director of Engineering, Facebook
- Mayor Elizabeth Kautz
- Senator Lisa Murkowski
- Andrew Shue, Co-Founder, dosomething.org; Co-Founder, cafemom.com
- Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis
- Judy Vredenburgh, President and CEO, Girls Inc
As Tina Tchen, Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama says, "We're thrilled to have such a distinguished panel of judges for this challenge, and we're tremendously excited about the potential for these apps to inspire girls to step up and serve as leaders in our democracy -- whether it's running for student council in their schools today, or running for elected office in the future."
As Lora O'Conner said, "The Equal Futures Challenge Day was a fabulous experience and there is much anticipation for the resulting apps and the next convenings!" Well said. I also can't wait to meet the politicians of the future who emerge from these GirlPower efforts.
Beverly Macy is the co-author of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing. She also teaches Executive Global Marketing and Branding and Social Media Marketing for the UCLA Extension. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org