How would you feel if you looked at a ballot and the majority if not all of the names on there were women? It’s a question many people don’t think of because there are not a lot of women in office. But North Dakota organizations and officials are trying to help change that.
When it comes to women in the office, people have mixed opinions. Just over a hundred years ago, North Dakota women were given the chance to vote and serve on the municipal and county commissions.
“I think women can be everywhere,” said Priscilla Barr, North Dakota resident.
Barr is a North Dakota resident who is passionate about women’s rights and their involvement in government. When it comes to gender roles she doesn’t believe in them.
“They can be in public office, they can be at home cooking dinner just like men can be in public office and men can be at home cooking dinner too,” said Barr.
Celebrating 100 years of North Dakota women in municipal government is a special event marking the centennial of women’s’ suffrage and women’s history month. State officials and advocates are encouraging women and girls to get involved.
But, how do you get started and where?
“One of the good ways for women to get started is to serve on local boards and committees, so they get their feet wet a little bit. Or just jump right in when there is an election. Talk to women who are already serving,” said Nancy Guy, Bismarck City Commissioner.
Guy is one of four women to ever serve as Bismarck city commissioner since 1990.
And she says there would be more if women weren’t intimidated.
“I think one of the differences between men and women is that women feel that they need to be really prepared before they take something on. So, if you ask a woman to run for office she will probably say I could not do that because I don’t know enough about the issues or I dont know enough about the process. I am willing to bet that there arn’t many men who have said that. They just say i’ll do that and then they figure it out once they get there. You never know enough about the process or the issues, said Guy.
As for Barr, getting involved is a step toward making a difference.
On the Bismarck and Mandan city commissions, the Burleigh and Morton county commissions, and the Bismarck School Board, women hold only one of five positions on each board. On the Mandan School Board, women hold four of nine positions.