Local Sheridan Representative Berger comments on Leap into Leadership conference

(Sheridan, Wyo.) - Aiming to increase female leadership roles at the local, state and national level, the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus (WyoWLC) hosted their ninth annual Leap into Leadership program last week in Cheyenne. We interviewed Representative Berger and she shared with Dally some of her insights on the event: *If you are participating, why do you think it is important to do so?* I helped found the Wyoming Women's Legislative Caucus nearly a decade ago to help foster the next generation of great Wyoming female leaders. Last week we held our 9th annual Leap into Leadership event with over 90 registered attendees for the conference and 260 attendees for the legislative dinner. The Wyoming Women's Legislative Caucus, and Leap into Leadership in particularly, is so important because it acts as a forum, workshop and facilitator for women considering running for office at the local, state or federal level. We provide the networking opportunities and advice you need to take the next steps into a leadership role. Today we have Leap into Leadership alum serving on County Commissions, in the State Legislature, in the State Auditor's office and the Superintendent of Public Instruction's office. *Why do you think Wyoming ranks 50th in women in its state legislature? Is this something that you would consider problematic, and what can be done about it?* I think there are likely several reasons Wyoming has such a low percentage of female representation in the legislature including: - Availability: of time to commit to campaigning & serving in office; women are still responsible for the majority of childcare and household task - Access to resources; money, tools & network of people to drive campaign - Lack of encouragement; from family & partners, work, communities in general - Lack of confidence; studies have shown that women are much less likely than men to think they are qualified to run for office - Escalating partisan atmosphere in legislature & Wyoming politics in general - Increase of personal attacks in campaigns Women make up more than half the population of our state and not having a representative legislative body reflected of this is a disservice. Without women legislators, men are making decisions for women about all policy, and about many policies that predominately or even exclusively impact women. Without more women serving in the legislature, we miss out on the perspective of primary caregivers & decision-makers in discussions on education, healthcare, childcare and a myriad of issues that predominately impact women. Plus, young women can’t be what they don’t see, so having more diversity in the legislature builds on itself and inspires younger generations. Right now we have a host of great female leaders in our state who are helping to inspire the next generation, plus programs like Leap into Leadership, Womentum, Leadership Wyoming and many others. *Feature photo via Wyoming Women's Legislative Caucus facebook page /