The Vital Role of Women in Public Service

By Maren Hendricks November 27, 2023

Panel organized by BYU Law’s Government & Politics Legal Society and Women in Law

More women should seek public office. They’re good at it. This was the consensus of Wednesday’s panel of distinguished public servants, which included Becky Edwards, former Utah state representative, Tracy Nuttall, Project Elect board member, Brooke Gledhill Wood, ’22, of The Policy Project, and Kaysville mayor Tamara Tran.

Tracy Nuttall (left) and Brooke Gledhill Wood (right).

“Just show up. You have something to contribute!” cheered Becky Edwards. Yet, imagined barriers can keep women from seeking opportunities. Brooke Gledhill Wood insisted that women are more qualified than they think they are. “Often, women don’t apply for leadership opportunities thinking that their `failure’ to tick all the boxes disqualifies them. It doesn’t.” Becky Edwards added that public service is an ideal fit for many women. “They need to recognize that everything they’ve done, from participating on sports teams, to raising families, to church callings, has prepared them to lead and take charge.” Tracy Nuttall echoed this view, observing, “Running a household is hard. Women with this experience can bring these skills to any forum.”

Becky Edwards (left) and Tamara Tran (right).

Tamara Tran got into politics to solve problems in her community. A natural introvert, she found the transition daunting at first. Her advice to others was to “fake confidence until you have it.” She also urged women to become outspoken community members, emphasizing the outsized impact of those who make the effort to share their opinion: “Don’t just read about things. Attend community meetings and you’ll be an important voice.” Edwards issued a similar challenge to the many future advocates and public servants in attendance to “imagine things can be better” and to find mentors. “Reach out to others. Reach out to us!”