What does the word ‘feminism’ mean to you? Do you struggle over whether or not you identify as a feminist Many of us exemplify feminism in our actions in its true meaning, yet some of us have an aversion to identify with the term due to negative associations. EMILY’s List founder Ellen Malcolm has seen the rise and fall and rise again in popularity of the term. To her, the word itself is not as important as fighting for what it really means: equality between men and women. Today I speak with Ellen about how she advocates for gender equality and greater female representation in politics.
My guest today is Ellen Malcolm, founder and board chair of EMILY’s List, an organization that seeks to give female political candidates credibility and resources to win by developing a a donor network that encouraged members to contribute to the candidates EMILY’s List recommends. Ellen is a veteran Democratic activist and fundraiser who began her career as an organizer at Common Cause and later served as press secretary for the National Women’s Political Caucus. In 1980, Ellen went to work at the White House as the press secretary for President Jimmy Carter’s special assistant for consumer affairs. Ellen is a recipient of Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Margaret Sanger Award — the organization’s highest honor and has been named one of the most influential women in America by Vanity Fair, one of Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year, and one of Ladies’ Home Journal’s 100 Most Important Women in America. Today I speak with Ellen about the changes and challenges EMILY’s List has faced over the years, the importance of including female voices in politics, and how she has been able to make real, sustainable change nationally.
What You’ll Discover in This Episode:
- What you can do today to encourage more female and family friendly policies
- How Ellen avoids burnout and why she thinks taking a break from work makes her a better, stronger worker
- How you can get involved in the political system to make a difference from the inside out
More About Ellen
Ellen has been active in politics since the 60’s. After graduating college in 1969 she became involved in the anti-war movement and participated by demonstrating and becoming active in rallies; fighting from the outside. Ellen says she recognizes herself in Bernie Sanders-supporting millennials today. There is dissatisfaction with the way the government is running, and people want change. For Ellen, after trying to change from the outside and having little success, she “decided that I wanted to go inside the system and make a difference.” She knew that there was little female representation in politics, and decided to take this on as her challenge.
Ellen began EMILY’s List in 1985 to help connect funders with female candidates to ultimately introduce more female voices in to our government. “EMILY’s List is an acronym, standing for “Early Money Is Like Yeast” (i.e., it makes the dough rise),” as Ellen recognized that financial backing is the starting point to get women into office. Thirty years later, EMILY’s List has seen the election of 11 female governors, 19 Senate members, 110 House of Representative members, over 700 state and local office successes, and the first female presidential candidate.
Today, EMILY’s list is proud to have seen such incredible change in a short period of time, but Ellen recognizes that there is still significant work to be done. She suggests the best way to initiate more change is for women to run for office, and she encourages any and all women to consider it.
Describe one personal habit that contributes to your well-being:
Walk my dogs.
What super power did you discover you had only to realize it was there all the time?
What advice would you give to your 25 or 30 year old self?
Expose yourself to a lot of different things.
Check Out the Links Mentioned in This Episode!