Rare Voices: Pittsburgh Women in Politics
Slideshow by: Martha Rial
Article by: Emily DeMarco
Women’s voices are uncommon on the Pennsylvania political scene.
In fact, the state ranks 47th in the nation in terms of female representation and participation in politics.
That’s one reason photographer Martha Rial took a closer look at the political lives of three women of different generations in the region.
From them, she found that the issue of gender in politics hasn’t changed much in 50 years.
On the floor of Congress, only one of the 21 people who represent Pennsylvania is female. And the female population — which makes up 51 percent of its citizens — has yet to see a woman serve as governor or U.S. Senator.
At the local level, the gender gap is equally dramatic.
“Fifty-seven percent of our county councils have not one female voice,” said Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University.
In Allegheny County, four of the 15 council members are women. That means 27 percent of the council is female, yet women make up 52 percent of the county.
How many of the 85 locally elected mayors and executives that govern the boroughs and townships in Allegheny County are women?
Six. That amounts to just 7 percent of the group.
Tina Doose, council president of Braddock Borough — a neighborhood east of Pittsburgh — is one of the three politicians included in Rial’s work.
“The good old boys’ club still exists,” Doose said. “And it’s not going away anytime soon, or easily.”