Women in Numbers Workshop

So, I had the pleasu… you know, this is the problem with people who are always polite. They’re like, “I had the pleasure of blah, blah, blah” and you don’t know. They could have hated it. That’s why I think it’s an advantage that I am impolite. That way when I say, “I had the pleasure of facilitating a panel at the Women in Numbers Workshop today,” you know that it really was pleasurable.

Anyway, it was exciting right off the bat, because, even though I didn’t feel like I was in any danger, apparently I could have died just walking in the building, since they had Union between 4th and 5th all closed off to “test the windows” on the building across the street. Any one of those windows, I was told, could fall and kill me, worse than a bullet.

I admit, I was momentarily charmed by the though to being killed worse than dead.

But it’s not something I actually want to go through, you know?

Anyway, I saw the panel before mine, about social media–gist: get it, learn it, use it. And part of the panel after mine–gist: door-to-door campaigning is important, but be careful out there, female candidates. And they had a really delicious turkey sandwich for lunch. I’m not a huge fan of turkey, nor boxed lunches, but this was surprisingly tasty. Like just hands down a good sandwich, one you’d be happy to encounter in real life.

Our panel was “Media: Effective Communications Goes Both Ways,” and the panelists were Joey Garrison, Pat Nolan, and Michael Cass. They were terrific. They really got into the spirit of the thing and I think the session felt more like a really interesting guided discussion than a typical panel. I did cuss some, just because there’s no polite way to say “bitch” and get the point across.

There are times when I’ll be emailing back and forth with one of the men of SouthComm about something that might be appropriate for Pith and he’ll be all “Do you want to chase this down?” and I say, “No, you go ahead,” and I realize “Nope, I am so clearly not a reporter.” I had a similar thought today when all three of the panelists were like “Sure, send us tons of press releases!” My question was basically like “Press releases: stupid wastes of time or exceptionally stupid wastes of time?” but the answer was that they liked getting them. Obviously, not every time a candidate lets their dog out to poop, but yeah, they find them helpful.

Well, there you go.

Garrison, too, talked a little about his approach to covering the Metro Council elections this year and how he’s thinking about the elections as parts of bigger trends. Is labor becoming more active? Are we seeing more political outsiders?  And so on. It was really cool to hear him talk a little bit about how he thinks about this stuff and to get a glimpse of how his brain works.

At the end I asked them the best way for female candidates to address with the media when they feel like a story has become more about what a woman she is and less about what a candidate she is. I didn’t spring this on them or anything. I sent everyone my questions ahead of time, so they knew it was coming. But I felt like how they answered was really cool. Each of them kind of sat with it and seemed to speak genuinely about how he didn’t think he’d do that, but, if he did, he’d want to know.

But what I liked about how they answered is that they kind of let their discomfort and uncertainty just be a part of the discussion. They didn’t, I didn’t think, get defensive or claim all haughtily that it wasn’t a problem. They just let the gap stand open. I don’t know. I just felt like I was seeing something really honest there, and something that acknowledged the problem without getting bogged down by it.

We talked a little bit about the numbers, how few elected women there are, only 9 on the city council, for instance, and I asked them how many women reported on politics for their outlets.

And then, what can you do? We all laughed.

These problems are systemic, you know?

Anyway, through lunch, Emily Evans gave a nice motivational, funny speech about why women make good politicians and why we need more of them.

So, it was cool and I hope our panel was informative.

And I got to meet a few people who read here! So, that was really awesome. Thanks for introducing yourselves.