When Stacy Abrams became the Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia, 2,500 miles away, a group of young women in a UC Davis classroom jumped out of their seats with excitement. They felt reaffirmed in their own political ambitions.
These women are part of Ignite National, a nonpartisan, nonprofit that educates young women on civic engagement and trains them to run for office.
This primary season has demonstrated that American women are determined to lead. A record number of women are running on congressional and gubernatorial races across the country.
Locally, women are also fueled.
Gloria Partida said she didn't imagine she would run for any kind of public office "in a million years," until someone suggested it. Now, she's running for Davis City Council and says it's crucial for women, especially women of color, to take back the conversation and become involved in decision-making.
“After the last national election and the rhetoric that came from that and the #MeToo movement, it has really moved women to stand up and say this is not ok," Partida said.
According to Washington Post, around 90 percent of black women and a large majority of Hispanic and Asian women voted for Hillary Clinton. Now, it’s not just about their vote or the marches, but about having a seat at the table on intersectional issues that affect women, their families and their communities.
"Unless our voices are there, these are some things that we can continue to expect,” Partida said.
"I see a lot that the men candidates try to use women’s issues as a way to get votes and that is something that really upsets me,"Kristen Leung, Ignite member and UC Davis student, said.
Leanne Bolaño, last year's UC Davis Ignite president is now working on Partida's campaign. She said men should also be involved.
“Their role in this greater movement is to listen, to listen to understand and not listen to respond all the time, but to listen to understand and to give us the space to go ahead and step up if we want to," Bolaño said.
Despite women making up more than half of the population, they only occupy 20 percent of the seats in Congress, 25 percent of state legislatures, 12 percent of governorships and 22 percent of mayors.
According to a 2013 American University study, young men are more likely than their female counterparts to think about, be encouraged and be socialized to run for political office. Studies show that part of the reason women don't rise to take over positions of power as much as men do, besides discrimination, is due to a gap in confidence. Men are more willing than women to initiate salary negotiations, women ask for lower pay, doubt their abilities more than men and accept a promotion when they feel they are 100 percent qualified for the job. Men will take jobs they're only 60 percent qualified for.
Experts who have studied the difference recommend motivating young girls to become involved in sports. Besides sports, organizations like Ignite National, Emerge America are stepping in to train women to step-up.
Partida said she runs for something greater than herself and that helps her keep the right perspective.
"It can be very daunting when you start to think about yourself when you put yourself in that equation," Partida said. "But when I think from the perspective of who I am representing, I think this is my duty." Emily Aguilar, incoming president of UC Davis's Ignite chapter said, "It takes time, but it’s doable. Recognizing that we have a voice and that we should be at the forefront of those issues."