Here are some numbers to share with — or shield from — your daughter: Percentage of seats women hold in Congress, 17. Percentage of women in the general population, 51.
Or how about this one: The share of women in the Nebraska Legislature, 22 percent.
"Nine. Is that it?" Nebraska State Sen. Brenda Council asked as she counted up her female colleagues in the 49-member Legislature. "Gwen Howard. Gwen makes 10." (Actually, there are 11 women in the Nebraska Legislature.)
These were among the figures discussed Tuesday night in a doubleheader in downtown Omaha aimed at getting women interested in politics and more aware of their representation in the media.
The Women's Fund of Omaha organized the two-part event that started at Goodnights Pizza and ended with a panel discussion of the documentary "Miss Representation" at neighboring Film Streams. Two hundred people, mostly women, signed up for the political event called Ready to Run.
In the past, Ready to Run has been a daylong candidate training seminar geared to arm would-be female political candidates with information and encouragement to run for elected office. Tuesday's hourlong Ready to Run, by contrast, was a nonpartisan meet-and-greet designed more to bring a new crop of young professional women in the door to stoke their interest in the political process.
The group then walked to Film Streams, where a sold-out crowd watched the 90-minute documentary, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
The mostly female crowd included members of such groups as the League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women. A number of elected officials who hold state, county and local seats, mainly metro-area ones, came. State Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine, one of the Republicans vying for U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson's seat, was also there.
Attendees included veterans to politics like Judi Monaghan of Omaha, a longtime Democratic supporter, and newcomers like Michelle Zych, who wants in the pipeline.
"I think it's very important for women to be involved, for women's voices especially to be heard," said Zych, citing last week's furor over the decision by a major breast cancer organization to at first pull — then restore — funding for Planned Parenthood.
Lynn Romero had a different reason for coming. The Omahan brought 11-year-old daughter Julia to Goodnights to immerse her in a room of "professional women and women of influence."
Diane Battiato, Douglas County register of deeds, said women can open doors for other women.
If Part 1 of Tuesday night was rah-rah, Part 2 was a sober bombardment of the wide-ranging challenges women face, starting with their depictions in media as objects of sex or violence. Writer and director Jennifer Siebel Newsom used the film to say there are links between the high saturation of such content and increasing rates of female depression, the high figure on eating disorders and continued low representation of women in America's power positions.
"I think that film was dead-on," said Brook Hudson, a marketing strategist, Omaha Fashion Week producer and former Miss Nebraska. "When I saw those images it hurt my heart."
Ellie Archer, executive director of the nonprofit Women's Fund, said women can do something about their portrayal and urged audience members to get involved.
"I hope," she said, "this raised consciousness."
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