PITTSBURGH: Observers around the country have noted an uptick in the number of women running for political office, and some areas of Pennsylvania appear to be no exception to this trend with recent data collected by the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics (PCWP) at Chatham University indicating that women ran for and won more Southeast Pennsylvania municipal offices in 2017 than in 2015.
In 2015, PCWP tallies revealed that less than a quarter of candidates (24.7 percent) in Southeastern Pennsylvania were women—Philadelphia (38.5 percent), Bucks (28 percent), Delaware (22 percent), Montgomery (21.5 percent), and Chester (26 percent). In the same area in 2017, 39.5 percent of candidates were women.
Preliminary results of data collected from the November election indicate that across Southeast Pennsylvania approximately 41.5 percent of the winners in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties were women. In Philadelphia, where only a few races were on the ballot, women represented 62 percent of those who won their races (8 women). Many more offices were contested in the collar counties; in Bucks County 45 percent of winners were women (142 women), while women represented 42 percent of the winners in Delaware (139 women) and Montgomery (167 women) Counties. Chester County’s tally was somewhat lower, with 35 percent (96 women) female winners. The 2015 and 2017 results are based, in each county, on candidates and results available in those respective election cycles.
“In the past, we’ve usually seen women make up a little more than a third of candidates and, on average, about half of those in contested races win,” said PCWP Executive Director, Dr. Dana Brown. “This year, women won at about the same rates, but there were definitely more women on the ballot in Southeastern Pennsylvania than in 2015.”
According to Brown, the PCWP has found that the increase in women’s candidacies has not been widespread across the Commonwealth. In Allegheny and Dauphin Counties for instance, women represented only about 35 percent of both candidates and winners. “We really had been expecting to see the number of women’s candidacies, and therefore victories, increase in 2017 since we are having more and more women showing interest in learning more about what it takes to run for office,” Brown added.
The PCWP offers a Ready to Run™ Training program, which provides women a unique opportunity to explore the possibility of running for office. Attendance in Ready to Run has seen an uptick over the past year. PCWP will hosts its next annual Ready to Run™ Campaign Training for Women at Jefferson University on Saturday, February 17, 2018 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ready to Run is a non-partisan program for women who want to run for office, seek higher office, work on a campaign, get appointed to office, or learn more about the political system. Led by prominent elected and appointed leaders, campaign consultants, party officials, and policy experts, participants are trained on the skills necessary to run and win public office. Interested individuals can find out more or register at www.pcwp.org.
About the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics
The PCWP is a non-partisan center devoted to fostering women’s public leadership through education, empowerment, and action. The first to focus on women’s political involvement in Pennsylvania, PCWP integrates disciplinary knowledge, civic education, and capacity building while examining the intersection of women and public policy. PCWP conducts candidate and advocacy trainings, offers education programs in applied politics, and provides timely analysis on women’s issues.