In the News

Report Details Officials’ Emails Discovered During Kathleen Kane’s Tenure

Posted in In the News on November 22nd, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

The emails found on government computers were by turns pornographic, racist and homophobic, and their piecemeal release, beginning in 2014, by Kathleen G. Kane, then the attorney general of Pennsylvania, sent two State Supreme Court justices and an assortment of other officials packing amid suspicions of overly cozy relationships between judges and prosecutors in the state.

Ms. Kane, by then embroiled in scandal herself, late last year hired an outside investigator, Douglas F. Gansler, to comb through the whole trove and see what else was there.

And even as Ms. Kane — who in August was convicted on criminal conspiracy and other charges and sentenced to 10 to 23 months in prison after illegally leaking grand jury records — took her own spectacular fall from grace, the investigation lingered as an unwritten coda to her stormy tenure. Would it be a swipe from the political ashes, revealing more offensive conduct by the “old boys’ network” she had come into office swearing to puncture?

The answer came on Tuesday in the form of a 50-page report: Yes, there were more inappropriate emails sent by current and retired state officials — nearly 12,000 in all — including obscene photographs and a racist joke about the first lady, Michelle Obama. Thirteen high-ranking officials, including three more judges, were found to have offensive material, and 38 more people were found to be “high-volume” senders of offensive or explicit content.

“These communications demonstrate a fundamental and dangerous degree of impropriety that threatens public confidence in a fair and unbiased law enforcement and judicial system, and impartial governance more generally,” wrote Mr. Gansler, who did not recommend criminal charges.

Read more at The New York Times

Women disappointed in 2016 election results get ‘Ready to Run’

Posted in In the News on November 20th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

WASHINGTON — Rabiya Kader never considered making a run for political office. It’s an “ugly business,” she said, and she hates asking people for money.

Then Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton to win the presidency, and Kader’s thinking changed. Trump’s potential Supreme Court picks, alone, could yield a lifetime of policy positions that run counter to her core beliefs, said the 42-year-old patent attorney and Democrat from Princeton, N.J.

She learned on social media about a Rutgers University program that teaches women how to run for public office and registered early for the March session, telling her friends “we should actually do something and run.”

“I thought, now’s the time to participate and not just vote, be an active voice,” she said.

Before the election, conventional wisdom said Hillary Clinton could inspire more women to run for office by becoming the first woman president. But if interest in campaign training is any indication, Clinton’s loss — and more specifically, Trump’s victory — may be having a similar effect.

Read more at USA Today

Will Women Still Want to Run?

Posted in In the News on November 18th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

After the ugliest campaign in recent memory, would any woman in her right mind want to run for president again?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Some will be discouraged. Those who run will do so with the full knowledge that we do not live in a post-gender world, any more than we do in a post-racial one.

People will long debate how much being a woman factored into Hillary Clinton’s narrow loss. But to those who study gender and politics, certain issues were clear, and they will frame the campaigns of women who may run in the future.

It has been a political science truism that female candidates cannot win unless voters see them as qualified for office; men have more leeway.

“Donald Trump never held elective office,” said Debbie Walsh, the director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “I don’t think there’s a woman who could get away with that.”

Political scientists saw a double bind: political experience, branded in this election as being part of a clueless or corrupt elite, worked against the woman running for office, while political inexperience helped the man. (Exit polls showed that 18 percent of those who voted for Mr. Trump did not think he was qualified to be president).

As a female candidate, “you have to prove your qualifications beyond the shadow of a doubt,” said Adrienne Kimmell, executive director of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, which has been studying women’s political races for 20 years. “How are you supposed to prove your qualifications while still being an outsider? I don’t know what the answer is to that question.”

Scholars also noticed that while past polls suggested that voters had dropped their resistance to seeing a woman as commander in chief, exit polls suggested a more nuanced reality.

Read more at The New York Times

For Women, Glass Ceilings, and Glass Walls, Too

Posted in In the News on November 16th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. — One week after the election, many students on my campus, one of the nation’s largest women’s colleges, remain heartbroken that Hillary Clinton was not able to shatter, in her words, “the highest, hardest glass ceiling.”

At Smith, every student leadership position from captain of the sports team to president of the student government is held by a woman, but my students know, even today, that this is a rare exception in a sexist world.

Still, there was a lot of hope and excitement on campus leading up to Election Day. This week, one student told me: “I’m still in shock. The reality is hitting me in waves.”

Many people have attributed Mrs. Clinton’s loss to her actions in public life, or to an America that wanted “change” at any cost. But this loss is as much about sexism as anything else.

Read more at The New York Times

Exit polls show split among female voters by race and party

Posted in In the News on November 14th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

Hillary Clinton made history as the first woman to be nominated for President by one of the national major parties, but how much of an impression did she make with female voters? 

While CNN exit polls found 55 percent of Pennsylvania women voters cast their ballots for the former Secretary of State, 50 percent of white women ended up electing Donald Trump. 

“Women, overall, are more democratic but traditionally white women usually support the Republican candidate,” said Dr. Dana Brown, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University. “What was surprising was that he won with white women in such a huge margin [nationally] when he has a negative view of women.” 

Marlene Gunther, the chair of the Montour County Republican Committee, said she voted for Trump because she felt he could make the country better for her children.

“Because I think there’s good and bad in everybody,” she said. “I think we need to put that [the approximately 16 women who have accused Trump of sexual assault and his comments from the Billy Bush recording] aside and focus on policy.” 

Northumberland Republican Party Chair Beth Kremer said she believes Hillary Clinton tried too hard to make it all about women and Trump realized men and women care about the same issues, such as the economy. 

Dr. Michele DeMary, the political science department chair at Susquehanna University, said for many conservative, white women, “when the pocketbook issues matter, they matter.” 

Read more at The Daily Item

Sexism 2016: More Women In Politics, But Representation In Congress, State Legislatures Lags Behind Men

Posted in In the News on November 9th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

Hillary Clinton, eight years after first running for president for the first time, still couldn’t break through the “highest glass ceiling” to become the first woman elected president in United States history. She was losing to Donald Trump Tuesday after a contentious election season that at times seemed to focus on sexism in a way that hadn’t been seen in modern politics.

Experts note there is still work to be done to reach a level of gender parity — an equal representation between men and women  in public office compared to the population, which is roughly 50-50. From mayors at the local level to state legislatures and the United States Congress, women are significantly outnumbered by men across the country but progress has been made.

“The U.S. has lagged behind many other countries and, right now, we’re at roughly 20 percent” women representation in politics, Sara Angevine, a visiting professor of political science at Whittier College in California, told the International Business Times. “That is not where we aim to be. We’re one of the few industrialized countries who have never had a female in the executive, so this is a big deal in setting the precedent.”

Read more at the International Business Times

Should we care what presidential candidates wear?

Posted in In the News on November 6th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ oversized sunglasses, Barbara Bush’s bold pearl necklaces, Michelle Obama’s cozy-chic cardigans — when it comes to fashion in the White House, the nation’s first ladies have historically overshadowed their presidential spouses.

With America on the brink of possibly electing its first woman president, would things be different if Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton were elected? Would the sartorial gaze shift to potential first gentleman Bill Clinton? And even if Republican candidate Donald Trump wins on Tuesday, what part should fashion play in politics in general?

Ms. Clinton’s penchant for pantsuits has made headlines alongside the choices of Mr. Trump’s wife Melania’s fuchsia Gucci pussy-bow blouse (an eyebrow-raising choice after the “Access Hollywood” tape of her husband’s disparaging comments about women was released) and white, bell-sleeved Roksanda Ilincic dress, which quickly sold out after she wore it to the Republican National Convention.

In fact, the former secretary of state has been sparking clothing sales of her own; a resurgence this season of tailored color-blocked pantsuits on the runway, for instance, is being attributed to “the Hillary Clinton effect.”

“Certainly there is coverage of what she’s wearing and why she’s wearing it,” says Dana Brown, executive director for the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics, which prepares women for public leadership through college-level and community programs. She’s also an assistant professor of political science at Chatham University. “But there does seem to be some concerted effort to use that potentially to her advantage.”

Take her decision to wear white to deliver her speech at the Democratic National Convention and to the final presidential debate. This was widely viewed as a nod to women in the suffrage movement, in which white was a predominant color. (In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro also wore a white pantsuit to give her convention speech, becoming the first female vice presidential candidate for a major party ticket.) Meanwhile, Ms. Clinton’s loyalty to Ralph Lauren — who outfitted her for the convention, all three presidential debates and the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner — has been interpreted as a sign of her support for American craftsmanship and businesses.

Supporters have adopted her signature style. In recent weeks, “pantsuit power” flash mobs have popped up across the country, attracting hundreds of colorful suit-clad dancers out into public squares. Even the Clinton campaign launched a pantsuit tee in its online store to promote the candidate while also poking fun at her once-ridiculed ensemble.

Read more at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Hillary Clinton is a ‘case study’ for gender bias, something these Chatham students think about daily

Posted in In the News on November 4th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

It’s a reaction to the election from a family member. A joke about Hillary Clinton’s pantsuit on Twitter. Or even the dreaded “boys will be boys” defense.

For three women who attend Chatham University and work in the on-campus and non–partisan Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics, gender bias is something they think about — a lot.

As Election Day neared and with Clinton in Pittsburgh again todayThe Incline went to Chatham, a former women’s college, to talk about gender bias, both in the presidential campaign and daily life.

Sometimes, there can be a disconnect between the gender bias happening in the presidential campaigns and gender bias in daily life, said Dana Brown, the center’s executive director. She said it can be easier for people to identify bias when it’s not happening to them. 

But when you go to Chatham, it’s easier to pick up on micro-aggressions, because it’s not the norm, said Maria Taylor, a 19-year-old sophomore from Ambridge.

So, what happens after Tuesday?

Clinton has become a “case study” for gender bias, McGreevy said. She’s unsure if personally, she already was noticing sexism more, or if she notices it more because of the election.

But, she said, even if Clinton is elected, that won’t be the end of sexism and bias. It won’t automatically be a post-sexist world, she said.

The first step is acknowledging an instance of gender bias or sexism, Brown said.

Then she said to look at it from a cognitive behavioral therapy point of view and ask yourself: “Why it is that I believe a certain thing? Why is it that Clinton doesn’t have a presidential look?”

Next: Challenge yourself and and talk it out, Brown said.

The trio of students said they are hopeful about change and agreed that talking it out and education are helpful for them and their classmates across campus.

“Progress is slow, you know what I mean? But we got to stay hopeful about it,” Taylor said. “We need to be able to identify and address it and figure out where the root of it is coming from.”

Jones said she’s realizing the gender bias she grew up with as a female athlete, and it’s something she doesn’t want for her future or for any young girl. And she’s working to be more vocal about it.

“I would love to be that really strong confident courageous person to call someone out on it,” she said.

Read more at The Incline

Experts: There may be a positive in the backlash to the Donald Trump video

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on October 12th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

They are surely some of the most uncouth comments from a presidential candidate to be aired publicly.

But experts say there may be one positive in the backlash and condemnation that have arisen following the release of a 2005 video in which Donald Trump brags about kissing and groping women: an increased awareness of sexual assault.

The topic has dominated media coverage for several days and spawned more than a million anecdotes on social media in which women share their own stories of groping and sexual assault.

“It is an educational moment,” said Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University. “It is sending a positive message to women and girls that sexual assault is unacceptable, and that talking or bragging about it is unacceptable, and that is a move in the right direction.”

Mr. Trump and campaign surrogates have downplayed the comments as “locker-room banter” that did not reflect his actual behavior, and have questioned their characterization as assault.

Sexual assault is a topic that has played an unexpectedly large role in this presidential campaign, from Mr. Trump appearing with those who have accused former President Bill Clinton of non-consensual sex, to the 2005 videotape in which Mr. Trump boasts that “When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything” in reference to kissing women and grabbing their genitals without warning.

“He has certainly ignited a conversation about sexual advances on women,” said Ms. Brown of Mr. Trump’s comments. “He’s saying that it’s just words, but actually those words are quite powerful. We want to make sure our students will have an opportunity for discussion. Our hope is that some student-athletes might speak out about locker-room talk, that this is not reflective.”

Heather Arnet, CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation, found a silver lining in an “uncomfortable” yet productive conversation she had with her 14-year-old son in showing him the video prior to him watching the debate. “If this horrible video can inspire more parents to have conversations with their young sons about how they can treat women with respect, that is a positive outcome,” she said.

Mr. Trump’s comments launched powerful reaction on social media, noted anupama jain, an adjunct professor in the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies program at the University of Pittsburgh.

On Friday, Canadian author Kelly Oxford asked women to share their personal tales of sexual assaults, using the hashtag #notokay on Twitter, drawing nearly 30 million responses as of Monday afternoon and widespread media attention.

Read More at Post-Gazette.com

Ruth Ann Dailey: The mixed messages in Kane’s crash

Posted in In the News on August 22nd, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

Ladies, can we talk?

This is embarrassing. At least I think it is — unless it’s good news, in a twisted kind of way.

Former state Attorney General Kathleen Kane resigned last week, after being found guilty on two felony counts of perjury and seven misdemeanor counts of abusing the power of her office.

Just four weeks ago, federal prosecutors indicted former state treasurer Barbara Hafer for allegedly misleading the FBI and IRS in their investigation of a pay-to-play scheme.

And then there’s the long-running saga of the Orie sisters.

What gives? This glorious commonwealth can’t boast of many female pols — our Legislature, for instance, ranks 39th in the nation — and an outsize percentage of the few we’ve got seem to have mastered the crash-and-burn.

Or maybe it just feels that way, given the years of juicy-details, look-at-that-nail-polish commentary.

In a state “with an incestuous, dysfunctional political system” (per Esquire magazine), “where corruption in politics is as common as the housefly” (per The New York Times), how bad is this scandal roll call for us gals?

I turned to an expert for enlightenment — and encouragement.

“There are so few women [in politics] that we pin all our hopes and dreams on the ones who are out there,” said Dana Brown, executive director of Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics.

Well, I can’t lay claim to “hopes and dreams,” but I’ll admit to mixed feelings. I mostly deplore identity politics. Philosophy and character matter far more than gender or race.

But I recognize it helps us as citizens to see people from whatever groups we identify with participating in representative democracy — and doing it well.

Ahem.

“While it’s really unfortunate to have anyone make a bad choice on behalf of the commonwealth, there are also many men who make these bad choices,” Ms. Brown said, launching into a long list: Mike Veon, Bill DeWeese, Rob McCord, etc. …

“We don’t ever ask ourselves, ‘How does this reflect on all men?’

“It seems [the Kane scandal] might say more about the political system as a whole than it says about women in Pennsylvania politics.”

Read more at www.post-gazette.com