Since its inception in 1998, the Barbara Lee Family Foundation has studied every woman candidate’s race for governor, producing nonpartisan, pragmatic guides for women on both sides of the aisle to enable them to maximize their strategic advantages and clear the hurdles on the way to public office.

While each woman’s race is unique—with region, political landscape, party affiliation, and key policy issues playing roles—the pages that follow offer the most direct, must-know advice we’ve gleaned for women elected officials and candidates running for office.

From personal traits, to actions that convey qualification and likeability, to bouncing back from mistakes, this guide is a concise look at what it takes for a woman to run and succeed.

Over the past two decades, the Barbara Lee Family Foundation has watched the face of leadership (literally) start to change as more women were elected to office at every level.

As we celebrate our 20th anniversary and the centennial of women’s suffrage, and recommit to our belief that our democracy is stronger when women’s voices are heard, I hope you’ll consider this guide an invitation. If you are running for office or planning to run, I invite you to use it to its fullest to help inform your campaign . If you have not yet decided to run, our research  is an invitation to become a candidate yourself.

And since we know that women need to be recruited to run, I urge you to pass this invitation along to other smart, strong, inspiring women who you know and want to see become our country’s future leaders.

Thank you—and onward.

Barbara Lee
Founder and President
Barbara Lee Family Foundation
Cambridge, Massachusetts

" I just hope that it is boring one day that a woman is governor. I hope that breaking a glass ceiling means that somebody threw a rock through your sunroof.