Women & Politics Institute
The Women & Politics Institute (WPI) is a research institute located in the School of Public Affairs at American University, in Washington, D.C. Their mission is to close the gender gap in political leadership. The institute provides young women with academic and practical training that encourages them to become involved in the political process. It facilitates research to enhance the understanding of the challenges women face in the political arena.
Founded in 2000 by Karen O'Connor, the institute offers graduate, undergraduate and non-degree certificates in "Women, Policy, and Political Leadership" Currently this is the only certificate program of its kind in the nation. Undergraduate students are able to apply to the program as early as their second year of college. Certificates are awarded on the completion of 15 course credits. Six of these credits must be earned in WPI core classes, and students must also take at least two one-credit special topic weekend courses.
WPI also offers two training programs: Campaign College and WeLEAD. The Campaign College program provides college women with the skills and training needed to run for and win positions in student government. It encourages students in the program to consider a candidacy after their graduation. The bipartisan WeLEAD program is a nine-month-long intensive series of workshops and seminars. It prepares women to seek, obtain, and succeed in political positions in the White House, administrative agencies, congressional offices, campaign consulting firms, and lobbying firms. WPI's special events bring together well-known politicians, media personalities, policy experts, diplomats, authors, and academics to discuss the status of women in politics and how to increase women’s political involvement.
Jennifer L. Lawless serves as the current director of the Women & Politics Institute, as well as an Associate Professor of Government at American University. Lawless was a congressional candidate in Rhode Island's second district in 2006.
Lawless and the Institute are regularly contacted to discuss views on women candidates in the political arena and the realities that women face when running for office. Lawless recently published her second book, It Still Takes A Candidate: Why Women Don't Run for Office, and has also published policy reports and numerous articles in political science journals.
Lawless is the editor of Politics & Gender, a political science journal that will be housed at the Women & Politics Institute.
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