This is an archived article that was published on in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Although women make up half the population of Utah, they make up only about 15 percent of the Utah Legislature.

Those statistics show a lack of equality in politics and helped inspire creation of a group to change the dynamics, said Lisa Watts-Baskin, one of the founders of Real Women Run and the organization's chairwoman.

"It's almost wrong not to try and fix that, just to sit back and say, 'Oh, the status quo is fine,'" she said. "We have a responsibility."

Real Women Run is a collaborative nonpartisan initiative that will hold a training meeting Saturday for Utah women interested in learning more about "leadership, volunteering on campaigns, and pursuing elective office or an appointment on a board or commission," according to the website.

"It's available for any woman who wants to become publicly engaged, not just for women who want to run for office," said YWCA Utah marketing and communications manager Annie Studer.

A former North Salt Lake City Council member and mayoral candidate, Watts-Baskin said women in the nation, and especially in Utah, must overcome challenges with how they view themselves.

She said they often struggle to see themselves as "competent and capable candidates" and have trouble finding mentors and funding.

"Usually it's 'the old boys club,' and [women] just don't get included," she said. "And it's difficult to run for office and campaign because you run the risk of losing, and some people don't want to do that — to put yourself out there and subject yourself to criticism."

Often, women who get involved in politics only do so after first being encouraged, she said.

When she and others founded the group, Watts-Baskin said they selected the word "real" for the name in response to self-criticism that is common in the feminine world.

"Women frequently think, 'I'm not thin enough, I'm not smart enough, I'm not strong enough,'" she said. "But it's your authentic self that we want running because they represent the constituency out there that's you and me."

She received an email from Paige Albrecht, who recently won a seat on the Lehi City Council, which previously was all male. Albrecht told Watts-Baskin that Real Women Run training inspired her to run, and she not only won one of the three available seats in the race, but received more votes than any other candidate.

Watts-Baskin said she's not against men running for office, but in order to represent constituents more fairly, the demographics should be more equal. Women bring with them "unique talents and skills, and not having them [in public office] is unfortunate for the good of the public."

Saturday's event, expected to draw 150 participants, will include the "nuts and bolts of getting a campaign started," with advice from political veterans on fundraising and how to access resources, Watts-Baskin said.

"Something unique to this training is that we will be going over messaging — finding your message and presenting that, whether it's traditionally or through social media," Studer said.

The agenda also includes a keynote speech from Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics, which is considered the leading source of research and data about women and politics, as well as lunch with Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, who helped found Real Women Run along with Watts-Baskin.

The hope of Watts-Baskin is that after this training, participants gain an understanding of how rewarding it can be to serve in the community in a political capacity, addressing problems, looking for solutions and planning for the future.

"It's so important for women to feel they are capable and welcome in the process," she said. "They need to know that their voices are important."