Tom Snee, Office of Strategic Communication, 319-384-0010 (office), 319-541-8434 (cell)
Deepening the pool
Deepening the pool
Deepening the pool
A team of University of Iowa students is working closely with an organization to bring more gender balance to the state’s elected leadership, where a woman has still never been separately elected to a federal office.
A group of four marketing students in the Tippie College of Business is working with 50/50 in 2020, an organization dedicated to electing more women to public office in Iowa. The bi-partisan group was founded by two former Iowa legislators, Iowa City Democrat Jean Lloyd-Jones and Bettendorf Republican Maggie Tinsman, to recruit, train, and mentor women candidates from both parties for public office in the state.
Their goal is a 50/50 gender split in the Iowa legislature and Congressional delegation by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote.
Lloyd-Jones says one of 50/50’s goals is to reach out to a younger demographic, women in their 20s, who are at an age when they’re still thinking about what kind of career or service opportunities they want to pursue. The students are developing a marketing and communications plan to reach that group, especially college aged women, which the team members say is apt, as all four of them are college aged women.
“We’re in their target market, so we know how to reach the audience they’re trying to reach,” says Natalia Wiemers, a member of the Marketing Institute project team.
The Marketing Institute is a three-semester program for marketing majors in the Tippie College of Business that combines classroom work with practical, on-the-job consulting experience helping real clients from business or other organizations overcome real marketing challenges.
“We know how to find and reach people who might be interested in running for office or performing public service, and would be interested in 50/50 in 2020,” adds Yvonne Filley, the project team leader.
The two-part focus of their work is developing a social media strategy that reaches younger women, and then uses that strategy in the spring to increase attendance at the organization’s “boot camp” recruiting and training sessions.
Lloyd-Jones, who co-founded the 50/50 with Tinsman in 2010, says volumes of research show that women approach public office differently than men, and so an organization like 50/50 is needed to provide the assistance they need. For instance, she says women reach the decision to run for office differently than men (women have to be encouraged, often more than once, while men need little prompting) and have a different style once elected (women are more collaborative legislators, while men tend to be more tribal).
Lloyd-Jones says the goal of 50/50’s project with the UI students is to spread the word to as wide an audience as possible that the organization has the resources to help potential women candidates decide to run, and help them if they decide to declare their candidacy.
“Politics has such a bad name, people are disgusted with the polarization and the gridlock, and they don’t want to get involved,” says Lloyd-Jones. “But we think people ought to look at politics as a worthy pursuit and that if people don’t get involved, the unscrupulous will take over. In that sense, we think women’s perspective adds a great deal, and we want the students to help us articulate the value that women can bring to the political process.”
While the team members are gaining hands-on experience in developing a marketing project, they say they’ve also learned much about politics and service from Iowa legends like Tinsman and Lloyd-Jones, and that’s reinforced their commitment to some kind of public service work later in life.
“They have so much experience and so many stories, that this has been a great way to learn from another generation,” says team member Mikhayla Schmaltz.
Other team members include Wendi Xie and Alyssa Adams, a full-time MBA student in the Tippie School of Management, who is the project coach.