This post is and exerpt from an op-ed Deseret News originally published September 13, 2015 entitled Pat Jones: More women needed in prominent seats at the political table. Please click on the link provided to read the op-ed in it’s entirety.
“Too nasty.” “Too mean.” “Too confrontive.” “Too intrusive.” These are just a few of the common responses I receive when approaching capable women about possibly running for political office. And who can blame them? Spend any amount of time watching the political pundit de jour and you can leave disillusioned and pessimistic.
One of the missions of the organization I currently lead, the Women’s Leadership Institute, is to urge women to aspire to leadership positions, including positions in the political arena. Utah has the dubious distinction as one of the worst states in the country for women represented in politics. Indeed, we currently and historically have benefited from several effective women leaders. But the number of women in politics in the Beehive State is paltry, worse than the national average (which is also comparatively low at 19% in Congress for example).
Why is this and why should we care?
According to Dr. Susan Madsen, Professor of Leadership and Ethics at UVU, female political candidates win elections at the same rate as men, but women avoid running for public office for a number of reasons, namely: gender socialization, lower political aspirations, and lack of support and encouragement. Women represent half of our population and have a significant impact on the socialization and perceptions of children regarding issues and politics. Who are we grooming to help lead our communities, state and country?
We should all be concerned that women are sparsely represented in political offices. Public policy debates can determine whether our children will go to war, whether our parents will live in security and whether Earth itself will continue as we know it. Women not only deserve a seat at the policy-making table to lend a different voice, but women are obligated to take a prominent seat at the table. The problem is that women often don’t see how politics affects their everyday lives.
Patricia W. Jones is currently the CEO of the Women’s Leadership Institute. As co-founder and former President of Dan Jones & Associates, a successful public opinion and market research firm for 35 years, Jones helped lead and manage the company while serving on numerous community and company boards. Jones is an experienced and highly-regarded researcher, specializing in qualitative research, having conducted hundreds of focus groups throughout the country for a variety of industries since 1980.
Senator Jones served in the Utah Legislature for 14 years, serving in leadership positions 12 of those years. She was a member of the Utah House of Representatives from 2000-2006 and was elected to the Utah Senate in 2006-2014, serving eight years there, including serving as the first female leader in either party and in either House.
Patricia is married to Dr. Dan E. Jones and has four children, three step-children and sixteen grandchildren.