A Woman in the White House?
Organization works to build young female leaders
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
Do you think a woman can become President? The White House Project does. For the past 12 years the advocacy organization has been working to make that possible.
Marie Wilson has been the president of the Project since the beginning; however she recently handed over the position to Tiffany Dufu. In the middle of a hectic day, Wilson sat down with Scholastic News for an interview.
The White House Project (WHP) is dedicated to recruiting and training women as leaders in all fields. It's called the White House Project because the presidency is "the only place Americans can actually believe you when you say women aren't in leadership," Wilson said.
Although the presidency is the ultimate goal, WHP is building a whole program for getting girls and women involved in politics at all levels. The organization is developing an online training program for young girls. And they have produced books for girls about running for office.
One way to get women and girls interested is through media and marketing. WHP made a President Barbie and it "has been a great, smashing success," Wilson said.
"My daughters had Barbies," Wilson told the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps. "And they mostly were undressed. And when you dressed them they were in pink, fluffy outfits. Now they are in suits and ready to run for office."
WHP also was involved in the creation of a TV show called Commander In Chief. It didn't have a long TV life, but it was still effective.
"There have got to be more shows with women as president or vice president," Wilson said. "It really allows people to see what you can't see in ordinary life."
As young women it is important to get involved in politics and go to the polls with parents, Wilson said. What political party they belong to doesn't matter either. The White House Project supports Democrats, Republicans, Independents, whatever.
"Democracy requires people who know about the system," Wilson said. "We don't have a lot of people who are engaged in their democracy, and that's a problem."
In high school, girls are excellent leaders but "they seem to stop when they get to college." It is important for them to support each other's leadership and "conspire together to get more women as leaders."
The White House Project will continue to work on getting girls involved in politics at young ages—and getting a woman in the White House.
"It won't work to just focus on the presidency," Wilson said. "You've got to move everybody at once."
CELEBRATE WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH
For more on the achievements and contributions of women in the United States, check out the Scholastic Kids Press Corps' Women's History Month Special Report.
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