Five Minutes with Erin Hottenstein

The stats shocked her—then she set to work. Her mission: equal representation.

Frustrated with a lack of women’s voices in politics, Erin Hottenstein founded Colorado 50-50, an organization striving for gender parity in elected office and on appointed boards and commissions.


What does CO 50-50 do?

We have events like the series Winning with Women that are part educational, part networking. We demystify the process of running for office and encourage women to run for office, or to get on a path to leadership, even if they don’t know if they might be interested in running for office.

Why doesn’t Colorado 50-50 skew toward a political party?

Because we think that all women are good for the system, not just a certain party.

What would change if women were equally represented?

We know that women politicians are different in office. Lots of academic research shows that women are more collaborative. They are less hierarchical. They work across the aisle and they actually get more done.

How does Northern Colorado do on gender parity?

Of the fourteen cities or towns north of Mead, eight have only one woman on the city council. That’s an 86/14 split rather than 50/50.

Why don’t women run?

Research shows that women win just as often as men win. I didn’t know that. They don’t run because they don’t think of themselves as elected officials and haven’t been encouraged in the same ways as men have been encouraged. The only way most women see themselves that way is through a mirror held up by others.

So, we should tell our women friends to run?

Yes. Encourage them to run for office and help them recognize their leadership [ability]. Say, “You’d be good, you should run,” or “You should apply to be on that board.”

What makes you angry?

One projection [from 2017] about when we’re going to reach gender parity estimated it would be more than 200 years before we would reach gender parity in our US congress. That is shocking. I just can’t deal with that.

For upcoming events visit

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