In the News

We spent decades dreaming up the perfect female president. She doesn’t exist.

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on July 25th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

 July 22 

In the summer before 1992’s presidential election, the toy company Mattel, which had given Barbie a series of historically masculine professions — astronaut in 1965, surgeon in 1973 — decided to award its famous doll a new role: presidential candidate. Candidate Barbie wore a ball gown. The dress had a silver bustier and a star-spangled skirt, and its wearer’s platinum-blond hair fell in waves to her waist. It was an outfit entirely inappropriate for the campaign trail, but then again, it was Barbie.

That, incidentally, was in the middle of the “Year of the Woman,” in which an unprecedented five women were elected to the U.S. Senate. The country was trying to figure out what the first female American president should look like and symbolize. It still is. We still are.

We still are, even as we’ve gotten closer than ever before to that milestone, even as a woman is about to be nominated by a major political party for the first time and the cautious, heartful hope felt by some people is balanced by the outright hatred of others.

When I posed the question, school-assignment-like (What would it mean to you to have a female president?) to a thousand-odd friends on Facebook, the responses came back perfunctorily and practiced, as if never-ending election coverage had taught everyone how to talk in sound bites: the momentousness, the symbolism, the importance of not voting for any candidate, male or female, because of gender. Repeatedly, people said they’d like to elect the first female president if for no other reason than they were tired of endlessly talking about what it would mean. We’re over it, they said. Even before the moment has happened, we’re over it.

But are we?

Think of the Night of Terror in 1917, in which 33 women protesting outside the White House were arrested and beaten, dragged to jail and kept there for the crime of thinking that women should have the right to vote. One of them, after watching her cellmate’s head bashed against a metal bedframe, had a heart attack. Or think of Jeannette Rankin, the first female member of Congress, elected in 1916, when American women in many states couldn’t have cast a ballot for her. Or of Abigail Adams, in 1776, urging her husband to “remember the ladies,” aware with each quill stroke that a woman’s only hope at the time was the compassion of a man.

“I remember, in third or fourth grade, Michael Dukakis and George [H.W.] Bush were running, and my class had a mock election,” says Dana Brown, the executive director of Pennsylvania’s Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University. “And it became really crystallized. The boys were the ones who wanted to participate. I was the only girl who decided I wanted to be president. It was me versus a kid named Mike.” (Mike won).

That’s one moment from Brown’s life. Here’s another, 30 years later:

“My 8-year-old niece recently asked my sister-in-law whether girls can be presidents,” Brown says. The mother said they could, of course, and then wondered aloud why her daughter was asking. The girl pointed to the pictures on the back of her history textbook; she’d noticed that all the presidents marching across the jacket were boys.

When people talk about gender equality in politics, they often point to this idea: It’s not the first female president who matters, but all the ones who come after her. Generations of girls need to see by example that women can be presidents so that they can aspire to be presidents themselves. A man, a white man at least, might not understand what it is to enter a room and feel his eyes scramble for purchase until they land on another person who looks like him. But all women know this feeling, the comfort of another treble voice, the possibility of a similar perspective, the prospect of a borrowed tampon. It matters if the room is the Oval Office.

For decades, women have been trying to get into this room: Shirley Chisholm, Geraldine Ferraro, Sarah Palin, Carly Fiorina. With each opportunity, the stakes are a little higher. If the first female president had been elected in 1796, on the heels of George Washington, she could have been just another candidate, with a bad temper or a wandering eye or whatever human frailty we’ve grown to accept in the leaders of the Free World.

Read more at the

What RNC speakers reveal about the GOP

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on July 21st, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

CLEVELAND — Among the refrains during Monday night’s convention speeches was that “All lives matter.” But as has been true for much of Donald Trump’s campaign, there was special attention paid to the lives of men.

Of the 27 speakers on Monday night, 20 were men. Of the women, four were grieving the loss of a son or brother, either at the hands of illegal immigrants or during the Benghazi attacks.

Supporters and pundits say that with terrorist attacks and police shootings in the headlines, the Trump campaign’s focus on the night’s theme — Making America Safe Again — may help boost Mr. Trump’s support among women. Still, Monday’s focus did not go unnoticed.

“Security has long been associated with masculinity, which Trump has made a cornerstone of his campaign,” said Dana Brown, the executive director of Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics. And she said Monday night’s focus on male victims tied into a broader narrative.

“Based on the Trump campaign’s rhetoric, they believe that men, especially white men, have been left out in this new, changing economy.”

Indeed, Mr. Trump’s discussions of the economy focuses most heavily on economic sectors, like manufacturing and mining, where men predominate.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up just under 47 percent of the total workforce. But they make up just 5 percent of mining jobs, among the lowest concentrations of the economy. Their share of manufacturing jobs is under 30 percent, and within that sector they are concentrated most heavily in industries like apparel and baking. In steelmaking, they hold just 11 percent of jobs.

“His comfort zone is around issues that best align with white, male voters,” said Christopher Borick, a political science professor and pollster at Muhlenburg College. “His outreach to women voters is less clear and not as comfortable.”

Mr. Trump has stumbled on issues like abortion rights. Though formerly pro-choice, he claims to have “evolved” on the issue: In March, he said that if abortion was illegal, women who sought one could face “Some form of punishment.” He later walked back that position, which is harsher than many anti-abortion activists espouse.

But while Mr. Trump has been plagued by a “gender gap” in polls pitting him against Democrat Hillary Clinton, the gap may be shrinking. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll showed Mr. Trump drawing even with Ms. Clinton among college-educated women: Ms. Clinton previously led by 22 among that group. A Quinnipiac University poll of Pennsylvania voters this month found a similar trend, with Ms. Clinton’s edge among women there dropping from 16 points to just 4.

Read more at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Issues trump gender for women voters

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

by Emma Ginader

Republican women in the Central Susquehanna Valley are sticking with Donald Trump despite Hillary Clinton beating the business mogul in popularity with women 59 percent to 35 percent in the latest Pew Research Center poll.

“Many women are thoughtful, deliberate voters who understand that qualifications and character matter more than a shared gender,” said Union County Republican Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Conner. “They realize Hillary Clinton has used gender politics and attacks on conservatives’ so-called ‘war on women’ as a smoke screen to hide from the left’s failure to protect women of all ages and ethnicities.”

She said Clinton has failed both women and men because of her pro-choice stance and her role in Benghazi.

“Women will not vote for gender. Women will vote for values,” said Irene C. Harris, president of the SUN Area Council of Republican Women.

Dr. Dana Brown, director of the nonpartisan Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, agrees with Harris that issues and political parties will always beat out gender.

“Women are not a monolithic voting block,” she said. “Party identification will trump gender too.”

However, Brown confirms there is a divide in policy between Republican and Democratic women. She said women tend to fall along party lines.

She said more women who identified as feminist and as Democrats tended to also support enacting more gun control measures as well as protecting abortion rights.

For Republican women, the issues of national and economic security “tend to rise to the top. It’s the same as the men voting for Trump.”

Brown said this is why Republican women might overlook Trump’s statements that Democratic women perceive as sexist.

However, not every Republican woman in the Valley is willing to follow party lines. Rae Kurland, former chairwoman of the Montour County Republican Committee, believes Trump “is unreliable and dangerous.”

Read more at The Daily Item

Meet the Philly women who want to make more women stars in politics

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

by Claudia Vargas, Staff Writer

In 2010, Kerri Kennedy was training women in Afghanistan to run for office when she noticed a stark statistic. That year, 28 percent of elected officials in Afghanistan were women, while in the United States, women held just 17 percent of such positions.

A friend told her that while the work Kennedy did was commendable, she could have a bigger impact helping women in her own country get elected.

“She said, ‘You’re not walking the talk,’ ” Kennedy recalled.

Six years later, Kennedy is one of more than a dozen Philadelphia women who run Represent!, a political action committee focused on electing Democratic women to state and federal office. The committee’s federal arm has raised $94,000 and given $175,000 to campaigns since last year. The state arm has raised $50,400 this election cycle and $89,000 since it became active in 2014.

At a time when millions are flowing to political campaigns, the dollars raised and donated by Represent! seem modest. But the group is hoping to gain momentum as the Democratic National Convention, July 25 to 28, nears and Hillary Clinton is poised to make history as the first female presidential candidate of a major U.S. party.

“It’s the right time for an organization like ours,” said Kennedy, 41, who in her day job is an executive for a nonprofit. (She is not related to those Kennedys.)

In late June, Represent! achieved “multicandidate” PAC status at the federal level, which means the group has supported at least five federal candidates and has more than 50 individual donors. That status allows a PAC to receive up to $5,000 from an individual a year, nearly double the usual $2,700 limit for individual donors.

“We are able to give a lot more money to the campaigns,” said Aubrey Montgomery, 32, one of the cofounders.

The women behind Represent! are trying to distinguish themselves from other female-focused PACs, such as EMILY’S List, the national group that backs female candidates who support abortion rights, and one that many women, including Represent! board members, have supported over the years.

On the Republican side, too, a PAC called Women Lead is trying to elect women, and the Anne B. Anstine Series, based in Pennsylvania and named for the woman who once led the state GOP, is a workshop that helps train women going into politics. Both groups were founded by Christine J. Toretti, a Republican National Committee member.



MPR News with Kerri Miller: Women in Politics

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

Listen to Dr. Dana Brown, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics on Minnesota Public Radio.

Women’s Rising Influence in Politics, Tinted Green

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on May 10th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment


Politics as Usual: Toomey, Dent ‘not likely’ to attend GOP covention

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on May 9th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment
Of the Morning Call

With Donald Trump the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, two top local Republicans now say they are unlikely to attend their party’s national convention in July.

Lehigh Valley congressman Charlie Dent, who had endorsed Ohio Gov. John Kasich, says he had been planning to go if the nomination hadn’t been sewn up.

“Now that it’s a settled matter, it’s not likely that I’ll be attending the Republican convention,” said Dent, who attended four years ago.

As for U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, he’s also likely to be absent. Toomey was at the 2012 convention and had told CNN before the primary that he “probably” would go to Cleveland.

“Sen. Toomey will have a busy campaign schedule in Pennsylvania in the summer, so it’s not likely he will attend the convention, but he has not ruled it out, and will make a scheduling judgment much later in the summer,” Toomey spokesman Ted Kwong said in a statement.

Toomey had endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who dropped out in March, and said he voted for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who ended his bid last week. He has not said whether he is backing Trump, describing the New York billionaire as not among his top choices, but emphasizing his opposition to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

— Laura Olson

Five women vying to represent Pa. in Congress

Democrat Katie McGinty is the third woman to nab a major-party nomination for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, according to Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics.

The two others? You have to reach back several decades, and neither was victorious. The first came in 1964, when Democrat Genevieve Blatt challenged Republican Sen. Hugh Scott.

In 1992, Democrat Lynne Yeakel took on Republican Sen. Arlen Specter in what pundits later dubbed “the year of the woman,” when four female senators were elected.

“Women remain significantly underrepresented in Pennsylvania politics,” said Dana Brown, the center’s executive director, “which means women’s perspectives and experiences are not always a part of the decision-making process.”

McGinty won’t be the only woman vying to join Pennsylvania’s all-male congressional delegation when she takes on Republican Sen. Pat Toomey this fall. Four women — all Democrats — will be running for House seats in the 1st, 7th, 12th and 16th districts.

— Laura Olson

Read more at The Morning Call

McGinty win would make her state’s first female U.S. senator

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

Emma Ginader  May 7, 2016

Democrat Katie McGinty is looking to beat Republican incumbent Pat Toomey and break a Pennsylvania gender barrier Nov. 8 by becoming the state’s first female U.S. senator.

If successful, she also may open more doors for more women in Pennsylvania politics.

“The political parties were made by men for men to elect men,” said Dr. Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, Pittsburgh. “Pennsylvania has a high rate of incumbency so it is a challenge for any newcomer.”

According to the Center for American Women and Politics, based at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Pennsylvania ranks 40th in the number of female representation in state and national politics.

The center states that only 18.2 percent of the members of Pennsylvania’s 2016 General Assembly are females.

Pennsylvania also has had trouble moving females to the national level of politics, Brown said. Only seven women from the commonwealth have served in the U.S. House since 1941.

There are “more established male candidates” who draw the attention of donors and there aren’t as many women donating to political campaigns, McGinty said.


Read more at The Daily Item

Down-ballot women hope to ride the Hillary Clinton train in today’s Acela Primary

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on April 26th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment


 April 26 at 8:41 AM

PHILADELPHIA — Arlen Specter came off as badly as any other senator — if not worse — during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings.

The way he pilloried Anita Hill from his perch of authority on the Senate Judiciary Committee helped lead to “the Year of the Woman” in 1992. California, Washington and Illinois elected female senators. In Pennsylvania, Lynn Yeakel — the daughter of a former congressman — was able to capture the Democratic nod in a primary. But she narrowly lost to Specter.

That was the last time either major party in Pennsylvania nominated a woman for Senate or governor. Today all 20 members of the commonwealth’s congressional delegation are men.

“All women candidates have different expectations placed upon them,” said Dana Brown, executive director of the nonpartisan Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics. “One of the greatest challenges that women have running in Pennsylvania is the incumbency advantage. We have a long history of incumbents winning time and again.”

Read More at the Washington Post

Women make county history as they take oath of office

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

SUNBURY — Judge Paige Rosini and Commissioner Kymberley Best were sworn in Monday after being the first women elected to their positions in Northumberland County history.

Rosini is a former assistant public defender, and Best, a former county chief clerk.

Best is not the first woman to serve as commissioner, but the first to be elected. Eleanor Kuhns was appointed as commissioner in 1993 to replace the late Charles Lewis.

Rosini and Hugh Jones, the former district judge in Mount Carmel, won the Republican and Democratic nominations for the two vacant 10-year county judge positions in May, making their wins in the Nov. 3 general election basically a formality.

President Judge Charles Saylor, who was sworn into his leadership position Monday, said he was looking forward to working with Rosini and Jones and was proud to welcome Rosini as the first female judge in the county.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve,” Rosini said. “I pledge my time and talents toward the fair and impartial administration of justice.”

Rosini, the daughter of the late Northumberland County Judge and District Attorney James J. Rosini, said she will address each matter with a “fair hearing” and “prompt decisions.”

Jones, who has been the district judge in Mount Carmel since 2009, said he first walked into the courthouse in 1968 as a high school student and returned in 1976 as an employee, but he never realized he would be a county judge.

“It’s been a lifelong dream,” he said.


Rosini has been practicing law since 1995 where she began her legal career with her father. She earned a juris doctor degree from the Dickinson School of Law, Carlisle, and a bachelor of arts degree from Boston College.