California Women Lead ScholarshipIn partnership with the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls
The California Women Lead Scholarship Program is open to women enrolled in the Sacramento Capitol Fellows programs. Recipients receive up to $2,500, along with training, coaching, and networking opportunities to support their professional growth and goals.
Applications Have Now Closed for the 2023 Scholarship Program!
APPLICATIONS ARE OPEN! California Women Lead, in partnership with the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, today announced the opening of applications for the California Women Lead Scholarship Program for women enrolled in the 2023 Capitol Fellows program. Recipients will receive up to $2,500, along with training, coaching, and networking opportunities to support their professional growth and goals.
The deadline for applications to the CWL Scholarship Program is June 2, 2023 by 4:00 p.m. In order to be eligible for a scholarship, applicants must identify as a woman and be currently participating in a Capitol fellowship program. Scholarship recipients will reflect the diverse identities and life experiences of all the women who live and work in California.
Awardees will also receive ongoing access to CaWL’s programming, professional development training, and a network of female leaders to help support their career development and pathway to leadership.
History of the Scholarship Program
In 2022, California Women Lead (CaWL), in partnership with the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls (CCSWG), announced the first round of California Women Lead Scholarships designed to support the leadership journey and professional growth of women in the Capitol Fellows program in Sacramento. Commissioner Lisa Greer joined CaWL’s scholars committee in year one to review applicants and provide guidance to selected recipients.
“Securing a fellowship in the State Capitol is highly competitive,” said then CaWL Board President Mona Pasquil Rogers. “However, the largest obstacle for many fellows is not the application process—it’s the related costs, such as housing and living expenses. The California Women Lead Scholarship will help support capable and talented young women as they pursue careers in policy and government.”
To be eligible for a scholarship, applicants were required to identify as a woman and be an active participant in a Capitol fellowship program. Scholarship recipients reflected the diverse identities and life experiences of all women who live and work in California. Scholarship recipients were also invited to a summit which took place at the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento on September 23, 2022. The twenty-nine awardees were honored and awardees received over $70,000 in scholarships.
The Scholars Summit featured speeches by notable women leaders in California, including a keynote address by Daisy Gonzales, Ph.D., Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, Commission Chair Lauren Babb, Commissioner Dr. Joely Proudfit, and CCSWG staff. The event included a welcome party and speed-friending social, career coaching sessions and trainings designed to build skills and confidence.
Building the Next Generation of Women Leaders
Former CCSWG Commissioner Hannah-Beth Jackson famously once said said that “Women’s paychecks should reflect their true value and contributions…” While this is true, it is also just the starting place. Women’s positions and access to political power and influence must also reflect our capability and contributions.
The very concept of building a pipeline into public service is one that is designed to constrain and narrow our collective vision of how many women can and should, be in leadership roles at any one time. There is currently no shortage of young women who are qualified for public service roles. There are, however, plenty of barriers to their entry into the pool from which those who get to serve are chosen.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg famously said in answer to the question “When will there be enough women on the Supreme Court? – When there are 9” The same can be said for women working in state government, as staffers, legislators, and experts across the spectrum of service.
We must stop looking at women’s participation as a thing that happens one at a time.
We must stop asking women to wait their turn and wait in line.
We don’t need a pipeline of women to fish them out of the applicant pool one at a time…we need a net to bring them up by the hundreds.
This scholarship is but one tiny step of many that are needed, but the more we can collaborate to remove barriers to entry for young women seeking to enter the field, the better. We can’t expect that generations of keeping women out will end by scouring existing networks for one or two women at a time to let in the door. We need to change the structure of public service to become wholly equitable. Together with California Women Lead, the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls seeks to create pathways, not pipelines, that are wide enough for many diverse women to travel at the same time, and to build open access to competitive processes that will allow women who are qualified but maybe not socially connected, a way in, a path forward, and a network of committed mentors invested in their success as the future leaders of our state.