Angela Yip used to second-guess herself when she discussed political and social issues, even though she was passionate about them.
But after meeting female leaders in L.A. politics and listening to their stories, the first-year political science student said she aspires to get involved in local politics and be more confident when discussing the topics she cares about.
Yip was one of about 40 students who attended a panel Friday that addressed the underrepresentation of women in politics and the workplace. The event featured Joan Pelico, chief of staff for L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz, and Carolyn Ramsay, chief of staff for L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who both shared their personal experiences working in L.A. politics.
At the event, the two women encouraged students to be more confident in themselves and be persistent in pursuing what they love.
“Don’t let anybody tell you that women will never be in power,” Pelico said. “(Women) see another side to everything, and that brings balance to our work and relationships.”
Ramsay talked about the challenges of maintaining a close family as a mother while doing the political work that she loves.
“Juggling between work and family is a challenge,” Ramsay said. “It’s a matter to make sure that everyone is taken care of.”
Ramsay said she thinks more women should work in politics because local government needs people with different perspectives to find the best solutions for local issues.
Both Pelico and Ramsay encouraged students to start volunteering and interning at City Hall or a political office if they are interested in pursuing a career in politics.
“The panel inspired me to explore local politics because it’s a good way to directly impact the community,” Yip said.
UCLA student groups Bruin Alliance, Bruin Democrats and Bruin Republicans, along with the Undergraduate Students Association Council External Vice President’s Office Local Affairs staff, hosted Friday’s panel.
The four organizations put on the panel to foster a discussion about women’s power in politics and inspire students to advocate equal representation in politics on campus and beyond, said Aurelia Friedman, events director of Bruin Democrats and assistant director of the USAC External Vice President’s Office Local Affairs component.
“Representation of women is a growing issue in all different aspects of society,” Friedman said. “We focus on local politics because we are aware of the gender gap in the city hall.”
Out of 15 members, there is currently one woman on the Los Angeles City Council.
Friedman said that she noticed a lack of female political leaders when she started working in a local political office composed of predominantly male employees. She said she saw few women represented in local politics and she hoped Friday’s panel would inspire students to discuss the issue.
Some students who attended the panel said they were inspired to be more confident about their goals of advancing social and environmental justice after listening to the speakers. They also said they thought the discussion between the students and speakers was helpful.
Sunnie Lee, a first-year physics student, said she wants to learn more about current events and become more involved in politics after attending the panel.
“It’s empowering to know that there are women out there who are leading and helping people like us,” Lee said.