NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Thursday is the deadline for Tennesseans to file as candidates with a board of election in order to appear on the May primary ballot.
While the exact numbers are not quantified, anecdotal evidence points to a record number of women pursuing leadership positions at the local, state and national level.
Currently women hold 16 percent of elected offices in the Volunteer State, compared with a national rate of 25 percent.
Sarah McCall, expansion director with the group Women for Tennessee’s Future, expects that to change this year, based on the interest her group’s political action committee is seeing.
If women are elected, she predicts a shift in how the state is run.
“Studies show that women tend to be more collaborative,” she points out. “They tend to work across the aisle, they tend to co-sponsor and introduce more bills and those bills tend to focus on topics that are typically important to women and families.”
Women for Tennessee’s Future was formed five years ago by a group of Nashville women who felt there was a shortage of women in public office in the state.
Since then, the group has helped dozens of women get elected to office, including Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, and there are more women elected to Nashville’s city council than ever before.
With the latest election last fall, Knoxville’s city leadership is now 50-50 between men and women.
McCall says while the efforts of Women for Tennessee’s Future began long before November 2016, the outcome of the most recent presidential election has spurred the organization’s growth.
“After the election of Donald Trump, we anticipated that more women were going to step up and run and that we needed to grow the organization and really kind of support the resistance that we were seeing build up in Tennessee,” she states.
Representation 2020, a nonpartisan initiative committed to achieving gender parity among appointed and elected offices in the United States, ranks Tennessee 43rd out of 50 states.