Forum aims to push more women in politics

Posted in In the News on April 7th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Kate Giammarise / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG — Two political experts will attempt to answer this perennial question today: how to get more women to run for political office in Pennsylvania?

Siobhan “Sam” Bennett, the former CEO of the Women’s Campaign Fund and She Should Run, is no stranger to being the only woman in the room at political gatherings.

“Women must ask other women to run,” said Ms. Bennett of Allentown, Pa., a former congressional candidate. “They must write them checks. And when they lose, they must pick up the phone and say, ‘When are you going to run again?’”

Ms. Bennett and Christine Toretti, a Republican National Committee member, will speak today in Harrisburg about electing more women to office in the Keystone State.

The state historically has had low numbers of women officeholders; it ranks 38th nationally in the total number of women in the state Legislature, according to the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University. The legislature is a key body for those interested in increasing women’s representation, not just for its lawmaking role, but because it often serves as a “farm team” for candidates who go on to seek higher political office, experts say.

Pennsylvania’s Legislature — which is a full-time body, highly paid in comparison to other states, and favors incumbency — impacts the structures around it and the overall political ecosystem, Ms. Bennett said.

“Politics is a very well-paid career path here at the state Legislature level. For that reason, it is very competitive for men and very well-entrenched,” she said.

The legislative schedule of several voting days a week and Pennsylvania’s geography can serve as an additional obstacle for women who have young children. “Even where I live, in Indiana, it’s a three-hour drive to Harrisburg,” said Ms. Toretti. “The way it’s structured, it isn’t welcoming for people who have children at home.”

Of the 1,166 candidates who filed to run in the 2014 primary at all levels of government, about 35 percent of them were women, according to a recent preliminary analysis by the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics. That includes two women running for governor, 11 for Congress, 13 for state Senate, and 83 for state House. Another 145 Democratic and 153 Republican women are seeking spots on the state committees for their parties, according to the center’s number-crunching.

Read more HERE

Race for lieutenant governor often overlooked in Pennsylvania

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on April 7th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Melissa Daniels

It was the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and Pennsylvania government, like the nation, was in crisis-control mode.

Lt. Gov. Mark Schweiker was in Somerset County where Flight 93 went down, heading up emergency management operations. Within nine days, President George W. Bush tapped then-Gov. Tom Ridge for a position that eventually would become secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

“It was not a time to dwell on difficulties and emotional challenges,” Schweiker said. “It was time to react, and it was time to deploy, and it was time to fight.”

So, on Oct. 5, 2001, Schweiker fulfilled his job description, the one outlined in Article IV, Section 13 of Pennsylvania’s constitution: He was inaugurated to serve out Ridge’s term as governor.

The lieutenant governor is the commonwealth’s second-in-command and first in the line of succession when the governor can no longer serve. The post requires the officeholder to serve as president of the state Senate and chair of the Board of Pardons. But the race for lieutenant governor operates on a far lower profile than that for Pennsylvania’s chief executive.

Running in the May 20 primary for lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket are: former U.S. Rep. Mark Critz of Johnstown; Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski; state Rep. Brandon Neuman, D-Canonsburg; Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith; and state Sen. Mike Stack, D-Philadelphia.

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jay Paterno announced on Friday he was dropping out of the race because he didn’t want to go through a protracted court battle regarding a challenge to his nominating petitions.

A February telephone poll of 501 voters by Harper Polling found 48 percent were undecided about the race. It had a margin of error of 4.38 percentage points.

Republican Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley is running for re-election on Gov. Tom Corbett’s ticket without any primary challenger.

Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, considers the lieutenant governor’s race to be overlooked.

Read more HERE

Gwen’s Take: Women’s Voices – Three Ways To Get Heard

Posted in In the News on April 7th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

 

I met a member of a dying breed this week. But I had to leave Washington and travel to Pittsburgh to do it.

 

There, on the campus of Chatham University, I made the reacquaintance of Elsie Hillman, who has spent a lifetime in philanthropy and politics. She is a champion of diversity, of women’s leadership and she supports abortion rights.

 

She helped create one of her city’s first informal hospices for people with AIDS.

 

She is also an 88-year-old Republican.

 

Hillman had no reason to remember when I first came to know her. I was a neophyte political reporter during her years as a powerful Republican national committeewoman. Years later, we met again when she chaired the board for WQED, Pittsburgh’s public television station.

 

I was in Pittsburgh to deliver a lecture for the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University. The center fosters engagement on all level of state and local politics. (Two women are currently competing for the Keystone State’s democratic gubernatorial nomination, for instance.)

Read More HERE

Millennials Rejecting Polarized Politics & Changing Nonprofit Giving

Posted in In the News on April 7th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

Nonprofits in the region must redefine their community relevance for the Millennial generation as these young adults enter society with a completely different approach to giving.

According to Linda Jones, Vice President of Workplace Campaign for the United Way of Allegheny County, Millennials prefer to give consistently in small amounts as well as volunteer at the organizations they support. They also approach politics differently, rejecting polarized politics and increasingly registering as independents.

These young people, who grew up in an era of instantaneousness, respond best when they can see the impact of their contribution.

“From the political side, we need to demonstrate that something can be accomplished,” says Dana Brown, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University. She adds that once Millennials get established in a neighborhood, they often focus on how to improve their community.”

To listen to the entire Essential Pittsburgh story click HERE

Advancing women’s role in politics is still a work in progress

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on March 4th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

By KAREN SHUEY | Staff Writer

In a lot of ways, it’s become a woman’s world. More women than ever before are entering the workforce, they are earning college degrees at a faster pace than men and they are stepping into leadership roles more often.

But you can’t help but notice that women are often missing when you turn on a news conference from Capitol Hill, watch senators debate a bill in Harrisburg or show up to a township supervisors meeting.

And despite the emergence over the past decade of several high-profile women in elected positions — from Hillary Clinton to Sarah Palin, many local female leaders said it seems politics is still very much a man’s world.

Why? And what does it mean?

 

Data compiled by the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics show that women hold less than 16 percent of the seats in Congress and about 24 percent of the positions in state legislatures.

 

Ninety nations around the world have more women in their national legislature than the United States. Rwanda, Cuba and Sweden are among the countries ranked in the top five.

 

Things don’t look much better at the state level.

Read More at lancasteronline.com

‘Boot camp’ teaches women how to run for political office

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on February 3rd, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Kate Giammarise / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

Nurse practitioner Suzanne Colilla has thought about running for public office.

“I think it’s important for nurses who are bedside experts to have a seat at the table when we talk about health policy issues,” she said.

But trying to win a local election raises a host of questions: How much money do you need to raise? How do you get the support of your party in the primary? How do you run a campaign if you’ve never done it before?

Ms. Colilla and about 40 other women — and a handful of men — spent a recent snowy Saturday in a Chatham University conference room learning just that.

“Ready to Run” is a campaign school aimed at women, a full-day boot camp complete with tips from women elected officials, advice on navigating local party systems, lessons on public speaking and an outline on the basics of fundraising and planning a campaign — plus a big dose of pep talks and confidence-building. The training is sponsored by Chatham’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics.

Jennifer Stergion, an attorney from Buffalo, N.Y., said the event attracted her because it is non-partisan and focuses on the practical aspects of a campaign. Other campaign tutorial events she had considered attending in the past were more focused on helping candidates who, for example, were committed to an anti-abortion or abortion rights position.

“This is more of a nuts-and-bolts event and less policy-driven,” Ms. Stergion said.

Indeed, apart from a brief but spirited disagreement between Republican and Democratic panelists over the campaign of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., the day — while filled with talk of politics — was remarkably issue-neutral. Discussions focused on everything from what to expect in a campaign to nitty-gritty details such as how to best speak to a television camera and how to split your time between fundraising and meeting with voters.

“In the current political environment, everything is so divisive. It’s nice to be able to just focus on the mechanics of it,” said Ms. Colilla, of Washington County, who said she learned the most from a panel discussion about Republican and Democratic party infrastructures and how best to approach them.

Pennsylvania generally ranks poorly in terms of its number of women elected officials — 39th nationally. Experts have blamed the state’s low ranking on everything from its highly structured and institutionalized political parties to full-time Legislature, which can make it harder for a working mother to serve in office.

“When we have more women at the table, bipartisanship increases, transparency increases, [new] issues come to light, different perspectives on old issues come to light,” said Dana Brown, executive director of Chatham’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics.

Women make up Pa.’s political minority, say gender isn’t issue

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on January 21st, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Tom Fontaine

Women make up about half of the population but remain grossly under-represented in key political offices that shape policy and render legal decisions at the federal, state and local levels, said politicians and political experts.

“It’s been a slow climb here,” said Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, which is hosting a campaign-training seminar for women in Shadyside on Saturday and another one in Philadelphia next month.

Last year’s seminar in Pittsburgh drew about 80 women.

Women hold one of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional seats and 17 percent of the seats in the state Legislature. One of the state’s seven Supreme Court justices and nine of its 60 Common Pleas president judges are women.

About 38 percent of countywide offices in the 10-county area surrounding Pittsburgh are held by women.

A woman has never represented Pennsylvania as a U.S. senator or governor. Democrat Kathleen Kane in 2012 became the first woman elected state attorney general.

Brown said she thinks 2014 could be a ground-breaking year for Pennsylvania women in politics, noting three are running for governor on the Democratic ticket and at least three of the state’s congressional races could be in play for women, including one featuring New Kensington’s Erin McClelland in the newly constituted 12th District that includes Beaver County and parts of Allegheny, Cambria, Lawrence, Somerset and Washington counties.

Women still struggling to win big-city mayoral jobs

Posted in In the News on November 11th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the name of former Baltimore mayor Sheila Dixon.

NEW YORK — High-profile mayoral elections this year have already proved that the steps to City Hall remain steep for female candidates.

Only one of the nation’s 10 largest cities is run by a woman: Annise Parker of Houston, who faces re-election in November. Just 12 of the 100 largest cities have women in the top job, including Fort Worth, Baltimore and Las Vegas.

This year has seen two notable candidates falling short: Democrats Wendy Greuel in Los Angeles, who made it to a runoff and then lost, and Christine Quinn in New York, who was considered the front-runner for months only to come in third in a Sept. 10 primary.

Next week, Boston voters have a chance: Charlotte Golar Richie is one of a dozen candidates for mayor in the non-partisan preliminary election Sept. 24.

The political group EMILY’s List — which raises money for female candidates — has endorsed women running for mayor this year in 10 cities, including Minneapolis; Dayton, Ohio; and Tacoma, Wash. But three are now sidelined, including Anita Lopez, who did not make a runoff in Toledo, Ohio.“To be the chief executive, to be the person where the buck stops, that’s that kind of last hurdle for women in elective office,” says Debbie Walsh of Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics — who points out that big-city mayors wield considerably more power than individual members of Congress. “When you get to those really big cities where when you’re the chief executive you’re overseeing millions and millions of dollars in jobs and a big law enforcement presence, that’s where it seems to be a bit stalled out.” Read more on usatoday.com

Women can make a difference, but first must get a chance

Posted in In the News on November 11th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 6:00 am | Updated: 1:21 pm, Wed Sep 18, 2013.

When looking at our current leadership, one glaring fact is evident: women are under-represented. The 2012 census report indicates that women make up nearly 51 percent of the population. However, only about 18 percent of seats are held by women in the 113th Congress (20 seats in the Senate and 78 in the House).

Why such a small percentage when women constitute half the population? Could this lack of representation contribute to the lack of satisfaction that constituents feel nationwide? And what can be done to encourage women to get involved in public leadership? Read More at the Bucks County Courier Times

Young end of GOP voters support diverse candidates, poll finds

Posted in In the News on August 28th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Melissa Daniels, PA Independent

In the Republican Party, it’s the  young crowd that’s pushing for diversity, a hot topic after last year’s elections.

Pew Research found a majority of Republican voters of all ages think the party could be more successful in national elections with more women and minority candidates, a view held by a larger share of voters 18 to 39.

About 64 percent of voters in that age group think more women nominees would help the GOP fare better in national elections, compared to 46 percent of voters 40 or older who share that view.

And about 68 percent of younger Republican voters think more racial and ethnic minorities would help the party, versus 49 percent of those 40 and older.

Young voters with an open mind about the types of candidates they’d like to see means parties may adjust their selections to win over this ever-growing demographic. But as a report from the College Republicans, ”Grand Old Party for a Brand New Generation,” concludes, it’s about more than just fitting the mold.

“To shed the brand of being old-fashioned, the GOP need not just find young candidates who can make pop culture references with ease,” the report said. “Instead, candidates need to be able to show that they understand the problems young people face when it comes to economic opportunity and have a plan to break down the barriers that are standing in their way.”

To read the entire article  click here.