The White House Project
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The White House Project
The White House Project is an American non-profit organization founded in 1998 to further advance female political engagement in the Gender Equality in the United States of America of America. The organization was founded by Marie Wilson, the woman who created “Take Your Daughter to Work Day.”“The Plan to Get Female Leadership in 21st Century Politics.” Flock, Elizabeth. US News, 1 Februrary 2013. Retrieved 28 August 2013. The name of the non-profit comes from the idea that the project worked for women engagement and equality in all sectors of leadership all the way up to the United States’ presidency. The non-profit closed January 28, 2013.“The White House Project Shutters Its Doors,” Franke-Ruta, Garance. The Atlantic, 28 January 2013 Retrieved 28 August 2013 Based out of New York City, The White House Project had regional offices in Minnesota, Colorado, Michigan, and Georgia at the time of its closure. “The White House Project: How to Change the World One Woman at a Time.” Carew-Johnson, N’Naserri, Scholastic Magazine. 25 March 2010. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
The non-profit’s mission was:
- “The White House Project aims to advance women’s leadership in all communities and sectors—up to the U.S. presidency—by filling the leadership pipeline with a richly diverse, critical mass of women. The White House Project’s Corporate Council fulfills a unique mission: to engage senior business women on issues that arise at the nexus of government policy, private philanthropy, academia, and business, and to facilitate engagement between senior women in the private and public sectors. Members are corporate women who are active agents of change within their corporations, and are in or have access to their executive suite. Members bring their intellectual and social capital to changing the perception of women leaders, and to advancing women’s leadership in both the private and public sectors.” The White House Project’s Women Benchmark Report 2009. Retrieved 28 August 2013
The goal of The White House Project was to reach “critical mass” of women participating in leadership positions through training and empowering women to pursue leadership positions in all sectors of American life. “An In-Depth Interview With Tiffany Dufu, President Of The White House Project.” Kanani, Rahim, HuffingtonPost. 14 March 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
The project aimed to, “…ignite the leadership of women in business and politics…[by] connect[ing], coach[ing], and educat[ing] an ever-expanding alumnae network of 14,000 nationwide…With a focus on women age 21-35…” The White House Project Blog, About section Retrieved 28 August 2013. The White House Project worked to achieve this goal through several different routes of programming including leadership training, weekend conferences, seminars, “bootcamps” and annual awards recognizing women in leadership positions. In 2011, the non-profit had trained over 10,000 women. “An In-Depth Interview With Tiffany Dufu, President Of The White House Project.” Kanani, Rahim, HuffingtonPost. 14 March 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
Vote, Run, Lead
The majority of The White House Project’s programming fell under the umbrella of their Vote, Run, Lead sessions. These programs aimed to inspire, connect and empower women to vote, to be social servants, to run as candidates for public office and to be political activists. “An In-Depth Interview With Tiffany Dufu, President Of The White House Project.” Kanani, Rahim, HuffingtonPost. 14 March 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2013. The programming in Go Vote instructed women how to get out the vote during an election. Sessions including education about phone banking and canvasing. Go Run connected women to workshops and networking opportunities to learn how to run a campaign, and Go Lead helped women to maintain their fundraising support and communicate their ideas.
The most notable of their programming was a non-partisan conference called Go Run, which trained a diverse group of women to run their own campaigns and run for public office. This programming will continue after their closure through another organization, Women’s Leadership Works. Go Run consists of a weekend long conference focused on creating understanding and comfort with the technicalities of running a political campaign. The weekends provided women interested in running for public office, be it a local council board or national legislature, with the tools and connections to create their own campaign. The conference focuses on workshops about fundraising and communications. The other strength of the weekends was that it connected many women who are passionate about making a difference and provided them with the network to embark on that crusade.
The EPIC Awards
The EPIC (Enhancing Perceptions in Culture) Awards was an annual celebration hosted by The White House Project to highlight leadership by women making a difference in media and popular culture. Beginning in 2002, the Award ceremony ran for 9 years honoring women such as Duane Baughman, director and producer of the film Bhutto ( Benazir Bhutto ), Sheryl WuDunn co-author of Half the Sky, and Lilly Ledbetter, an advocate for fair-pay and equal treatment.
The White House Project also launched a presidential candidate Barbie with the help of Mattel. “Barbie finally takes a Stand–to Run for President.” Raphael, Rina. Today News. 5 April 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2013. The role of the doll in popular culture is hoped to instill confidence in young girls to become politically active. The doll is available in four different races: Caucasian, Hispanic, African-American and Asian. “Barbie running for President! New doll comes with pink power suit designed by Chris Benz.” Murray, Rheana. NY Daily News. 5 April 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2013 Read more: I Can Be…President Barbie
The impact of The White House Project has been measured in several different ways. The impact of their conferences showed a dramatic increase in confidence and interest of women candidates to run for public office. An independent study by the Humphrey Institute showed that 98% of women participants left the conference inspired to run for office and 94% felt an increased confidence in “their ability to run.” “Minnesota Research Shows Programs are Increasing Political Ambition among Women.” Fitzpatrick, Debra. Elect Women, 01 April 2009 Retrieved 28 August 2013. These conferences also saw a considerate increase in political ambition of women of color. “Minnesota Research Shows Programs are Increasing Political Ambition among Women.” Fitzpatrick, Debra. Elect Women, 01 April 2009 Retrieved 28 August 2013. Furthermore, the Women’s Leadership Benchmark Report in 2009 produced by The White House Project studied the role that women in America play in leadership positions. Marking the nation’s growing comfort with women in leadership positions, the report analyzed the current status of women in many different sectors in the United States including Academia, Business, Film & Television Entertainment, Journalism, Law, Military, Nonprofit, Politics, Religion and Sports. The full report can be read here.
In January 2013, The White House Project closed its doors citing fundraising issues in the current economic climate. “The White House Project Shutters Its Doors,” Franke-Ruta, Garance. The Atlantic, 28 January 2013 Retrieved 28 August 2013
What Next for Women Leadership?
Looking at the closure of The White House Project, it asks the question of whether or not it is still necessary to have groups and non-profits working towards this goal. However, the answer is a resounding yes as the United States currently ranks 79th in the world for women’s political participation. “Breaking News: U.S. Now Ranks 79th in World for Women’s Political Participation.” Chemala, Soraya. HuffingtonPost, 13 January 2013. Retrieved 28 August 2013. At the moment, women comprise only 18% of the United States Congress. “Facts on Women in Congress 2013,” Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics. Retrieved 28 August 2013. It is not only important, but it is necessary that organizations continue to exist and work towards the goal of equality in leadership positions, whether it is in corporations or in politics. In their letter announcing their closure, The White House Project did list several other organizations to keep an eye on for the future to address issues of women’s participation in leadership positions:“The White House Project Shutters Its Doors,” Franke-Ruta, Garance. The Atlantic, 28 January 2013 Retrieved 28 August 2013 The Levo League, Running Start, She Should Run, Girls Who Code, and The Forté Foundation. –[User:Sschor|Sschor]
See alsoWomen's Political Empowerment Women in Government (WIG, United States of America) New website on women's political participation Women's rights
- The White House Project: Benchmarking Women’s Leadership Report 2009
- “The White House Project Shutters Its Doors” (The Atlantic, January 2013)