In this lesson, you will read Maggie Astor’s article, “She’s 16 and Wants to Be President: Meet the Teenagers Planning Their Campaigns,” and get a glimpse into the Young Women Run Columbus conference. Then, you will get to think about your own political beliefs and activism and, if you choose, share your ideas more widely with The Times.
Would you consider yourself to be politically active? Are you involved in student government, debate team or student activism groups? Do you think it is important for young people to be aware of what is happening in politics locally and across the country?
Watch the above video created by Ignite, a group dedicated to getting young women involved in politics. Then respond to these questions:
What is your reaction to watching the video?
Have you ever thought about running for office in your state or nationally?
Do you connect with any of the issues that the women in the video addressed? Are there other issue that you think are important where you live or in the country?
Questions for Writing and Discussion
Read the article, then answer the following questions:
1. Why does Haley Zaker, a high school senior in Lancaster, Ohio, hope she is not the first woman president? What does this tell you about the goals of Ignite and the larger movement of women running for office?
2. The article states, “If women’s representation in American government kept increasing at the rate it has over the past decade, it would take more than 100 years to reach gender parity.” How is Ignite trying to expedite this process?
3. What were some of the sessions held at the Young Women Run Columbus conference? How did participating in the conference affect Kira Jones, a first-year student at Ohio State?
4. What are some possible reasons that Ignite has struggled to recruit more Republican women?
5. How did young people like Ms. Zaker, Abby Cumming-Vukovic and Sydnee Brown become active in politics?
6. Ms. Astor writes that Generation Z “has grown up under multiple existential threats” and that could be a reason they are more politically active than previous generations. Do you agree with this conclusion? Can you think of other reasons young people in Generation Z are politically active?
What is your reaction to reading this article? Is there anything that you found inspirational or motivational in what the teenagers shared? Does it make you want to run for office when you are old enough? Or, does it pique your interest in becoming more politically active in other ways? Why or why not?
The article focuses on racial and gender representation in political office. Is this something you see reflected in any of your state and local governments? How important is the diversity of elected officials to you?
You can share your responses in the comments. And, if you’re open to having a wider audience and you were born between Jan. 1, 1997 and Nov. 3, 2002, you can fill out The Times survey below. The Times wants to hear from young people in Generation Z to learn more about your political opinions and involvement.