In the News

Report Reveals Women Need to Increase Political Giving to Level the Playing Field

Posted in In the News on April 23rd, 2012 by admin – 1 Comment

WASHINGTON, April 23, 2012 — /PRNewswire/ — She Should Run, working with the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), releases their Vote with Your Purse report today, revealing women lag drastically behind men in political giving. Using data from the 2010 election, which marks the United States’ first backslide in electing more women to office in over 30 years, the report shows correlation between the low recorded federal political contributions from women and their representation in Congress. Women made up just 26% of the total given to candidates, political action committees (PACs), and party committees in that election year, which is down from 31% in 2008.

The report identifies that in order to get more women elected to office, women must increase giving to female candidates. “Money is essential in winning campaigns,” says Sam Bennett, president and CEO of She Should Run. “If you don’t give, you don’t have a voice, so I urge women to put their money where their mouth is. As a nation where women make up over 50% of the population, yet only 17% of Congress, women must increase their political giving to other women to affect change and close the gender gap.

Data from CRP suggests if a majority of the US female population from different age groups, ethnicities and economic backgrounds gave just $5 to a female running for office, women could make significant strides toward a balance in political representation.

Vote with Your Purse underscores the fact electing more women to political office has never been so important,” says Bennett. “If women voters across parties give as little as $5 to one female candidate, it would be enough to run a female candidate in every House race with a budget of over $1 million each. Together, we can ensure 2012 will be a historic year for women in politics.”

Despite the gender gap in political giving, female candidates are good fundraisers. In 2010, female House incumbents raised approximately $100,000 more than their male peers and female challengers raised over $74,000 more than male peers.

Though women candidates excel in fundraising, men make up a greater portion of donations to female candidates. In 2010 only four of the 2,215 candidates relied on women for more than half of their campaign contributions.

Other important findings from this year’s Vote with Your Purse report include:

  • Only 27% of total contributions to individual candidates were made by women, representing a 6.3% decrease from 2008
  • In 2010, women made 30% of the total individual contributions to Democrats and just 25% of the total contributions to Republican candidates
  • Women made just 21% of the total contributions to PACs in 2010, down 1.8% from 2008
  • Women made 38% of the 2010 individual contributions to the Democratic National Committee, while women made 24% of contributions to the Republican National Committee

Data from past Vote with Your Purse reports explains women invest in political campaigns at lower rates because they do not think their money matters in showing support for a candidate and the issues they champion. Furthermore, women do not connect political leadership with positive, productive social change or view political giving as a civic responsibility.

“When they understand the connection between political leadership and social progress, women are more receptive to political giving,” says Bennett. “Women must realize their financial support is needed to make important change for women.”

The full report, which includes tips on how female candidates can increase women’s political giving, is available at

About She Should Run (

She Should Run is dedicated to dramatically increasing the number of women in public leadership by eliminating and overcoming barriers to success.

SOURCE She Should Run

Critical Issues for Women in This Year’s Presidential Race

Posted in In the News on April 19th, 2012 by admin – 3 Comments
by Essential Pittsburgh
April 16, 2012

The presidential candidates have been tangled in a number of issues that concern women, such as contraception access, abortions and ultra-sounds. But this time around there are no female candidates involved in the conversation. So what are the critical issues for women in this year’s presidential race? Dana Brown, Executive Director of the PA Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University talks about some of those issues and the candidates that are speaking to women’s interests.

Pennsylvania Ranks 28 for Equal Pay

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on April 17th, 2012 by admin – 3 Comments

by Mark Nootbaar & Tim Camerato – 90.5 Essential Public Radio

With Equal Pay Day upon us, a new study finds not much has changed since the inception of the event in 1996. On average, women in Pennsylvania make 77.4 cents for every dollar men are paid according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. The number was at 73.8 cents in 1996.

“At that rate we are estimating that the pay gap would not close until over 40 years from now,” said the partnership’s Director of Workplace Fairness Sarah Crawford.

The gap grows for women of color. The study finds African American women are paid 70 cents for every dollar men make, “and that amounts to a loss of over $14,000 per year. And Latino women in the state fare even worse… with pay being 57 cents on the dollar,” said Crawford. That, she said, amounts to $20,000 a year.

Equal Pay Day is held around this time in an effort to show how long into the new year women must work to catch up with what men made in the previous year. The study tries to put a different yardstick to the gap. It estimates that if women made as much as men they would be able to purchase an additional 2,690 gallons of gas or pay mortgage and utilities for an additional eight months.

The Gap Grows for Mothers

The study from the National Partnership for Women and Families reports a “motherhood bias” that goes beyond dropping pay for mothers. “Where women with children are generally paid less than women without children, what we see with men is quite the opposite,” said Crawford. “Men with children actually on average are paid a bit more than their counterparts without children.”

The partnership is pushing for the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which the group says would close important loopholes in the nearly half century old Equal Pay Act. The Paycheck Fairness Act was passed in the the U.S. House in each of the last two sessions but fell two votes short in the Senate in 2010. The measure has not come up for a vote this year.

2012 Project pushes for more women in office

Posted in In the News on March 30th, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Stacy Skiavo

Zach Dorsch photo: Dana Brown, Courtney Sullivan, Kathy Dahlkemper and Denise Robison were the panelists for The 2012 Project Discussion at Mercyhurst on March 21.

The 2012 Project came to Mercyhurst University and brought awareness to the idea that women need to start claiming positions and opportunities in Congress and state legislatures.

On Wednesday, March 21, former U.S. Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper brought the 2012 Project to campus for a panel discussion hosted by the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics (MCAP).

MCAP is taking part in the project’s mission by encouraging people to consider a career in public life by teaching the art and craft of practical politics.

“The Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics is excited about the opportunity to work in partnership with MEOW (Mercyhurst Equality of Women) to bring Project 2012 to campus,” said Brian Ripley, Ph.D., professor of political science. “Politics can be a powerful force for positive social change if more people from across the political spectrum get involved.”

The 2012 Project is a national, non-partisan campaign of the Center for American Women and Politics working to increase the number of women in office.

During her presentation, Dahlkemper said, “Women leaders are not better than male leaders, but our country is better served with a more equal representation of both genders in positions of political leadership.”

Despite women making up 51 percent of the U.S. population, only 17 percent of Congress is comprised of women.

“The 2012 Project was eye opening because even now there is prejudice against women in roles of government. For a country where women make up more than half the population, the representation we have doesn’t show,” junior Daksha Cordova said.

In fact, the U.S. ranks 71st for women representation in office, behind countries like South Africa, China and Rwanda.

“I was skeptical of the panel at first, especially since I have no interest in running for political office in the near future,” senior Michelle Tatavosian said.

“However, the panel was surprisingly inspirational. The biggest takeaway for me was the quote from Kathy Dahlkemper regarding the presence of women in the political realm, noting that ‘it’s not that women are better than men, but together (in office), our country is a better, diverse representation.”

Other panelists on the board included Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, Denise Robison, former deputy secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and Courtney Sullivan, a Mercyhurst graduate student.

According to The 2012 Project, research shows that women will have more success in obtaining political seats now. It also shows that voting patterns in presidential years tends to increase female candidates.

The panel shared that many women do not obtain these positions because of institutional barriers, cultural barriers and the fact that women are simply not running. When women do run, they seem to win at the same rates and no biases appear to be found.

“It’s not a feminist issue as some would assume; it’s about gender diversity,” Cordova said.

Women are making advances in many other fields, but when it comes to politics, they come up short for holding positions.

Number of Women in Elected Office in U.S. Expected to Increase this Year

Posted in In the News on March 30th, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Deanna Garcia

The U.S. is ranked 71st in the world for the number of women in elected office. A Thursday afternoon panel at Duquesne University examined the role of women in politics and activism.

For the first time in 30 years the number of women in elected office dropped in 2010. The U.S. now ranks behind nations like Turkmenistan in terms of the number of women holding office. A panel of women, including Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, said there are efforts underway to try and improve that. It’s a grand undertaking for Pennsylvania, which ranks in the bottom 10 in the nation in the number of women in office.

“We know that as of 2011 elections we have 38 counties in the state that do not have one woman on the county council, and that’s pretty shocking, and that’s a decrease from where we were before,” said Dana Brown, executive director for the Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University.

Beyond politics, the Duquesne panel also tackled activism and women’s roles in society. It’s part of Women’s History Month. Panelists include Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughn, and Heather Arnet with the Women and Girls Foundation.

While the numbers of women in office has declined, Chatham’s Dana Brown said signs point to women increasing their role in politics in the 2012 elections on the national level.

“2012, given that it is a year of redistricting, that generally yields new and open seats. While that may not be true in Pennsylvania because we’re losing a Congressional seat, we know that in other states there are new opportunities and that women do particularly well in those open seat races,” she said.

The overall goal of panels such as the one at Duquesne is to think about how policies affect women and children, and what women can do to help craft better policies, according to Michelle Gaffey, a graduate assistant in the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at Duquesne.

Twenty years on, ‘Year of the Woman’ fades

Posted in In the News on March 26th, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Karen Tumulty, Published: March 24

At a moment when gender politics is thick in the air, it is a good time to reconsider another spring, exactly 20 years ago, when an unprecedented wave of women set their sights on Washington.

That was the election that was supposed to change everything. But it didn’t — not on the scale once expected.
Nor did a series of “firsts” since then: a woman as speaker of the U.S. House, another on the Republican presidential ticket, still another winning nearly 18 million votes for president.

In fact, a growing body of evidence suggests that these pathbreaking women have proved to be cautionary examples — not role models — for others who might consider running for office.

Overall, the number of women elected, while rising through much of the 1990s, has hit a plateau. That is why advocates of all political stripes are redoubling their efforts to elect more women this fall.

Jean Lloyd-Jones, then a state senator from Iowa, was one of those who declared in 1992 that her voice was needed on Capitol Hill.

“I decided to run because of the Clarence Thomas hearings,” Lloyd-Jones recalled. Her own Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R) had voted in favor of the Supreme Court nominee, saying he had not believed claims of sexual harassment by University of Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill.

When Lloyd-Jones won the Democratic nomination for Senate that June, she was helping write the narrative of what would become known as “The Year of the Woman.”

Many now lament that it was not much more than that — one anomalous year.

Lloyd-Jones fell short, but more than two dozen others didn’t.

Overnight, the number of women in the Senate doubled, and female membership in the House went from 28 to 47. They made their presence felt beyond Capitol Hill, with the passage of legislation that made the workplace more family-friendly, that directed more medical research to women’s health issues and that made the criminal justice system more responsive to domestic violence.

“I really felt that we were paving the way for a huge number of women, but the promise of 1992 was never realized,” said Lloyd-Jones, now 82, who spoke at a ceremony commemorating that campaign year on Monday at American University.

“In 1992, there was such a surge. It was like, hey, that glass ceiling is being shattered,” agreed former congresswoman Constance A. Morella (R-Md.). “I was very excited about it, and then in 1994 [when Republicans took control of Congress, wiping out much of the Class of ’92], you had a slight change. And then it was level.”

Morella was one of three women in Maryland’s House delegation in 1992; there is now one. Virginia — which has elected just three women to Congress in its history — has none.

Morella blames political polarization, which she said has made both parties less hospitable for the moderate brand of politics that she and many other women of her era represented. And pro-choice women such as herself, once the norm among Republican women in federal office, are finding it far more difficult to compete in GOP primary races.
More recent years have also seen expectations for women to rise, only to be dashed.

Hillary Rodham Clinton had said that her 2008 campaign would make it “unremarkable to think that a woman can be president of the United States.” Sarah Palin boasted that her elevation to the presidential ticket later that year proved “we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.”
It now appears the opposite may have happened: Women — particularly the accomplished and successful ones who would make the most appealing candidates — have been struck not by the opportunity but by the toll that politics can take.

“Both Clinton and Palin’s campaigns also provided many potential candidates with a window into how women are treated when they run for office. And what women of both political parties saw likely confirmed some of their worst fears about the electoral arena,” wrote professors Jennifer L. Lawless of American University and Richard L. Fox of Loyola Marymount University. In January, they published a study on the under-representation of women in U.S. politics, where they analyzed the different attitudes of men and women toward the endeavor.

Potential female candidates have seen others have a tough go since then. During the 2010 midterm elections, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was vilified in $65 million worth of Republican ads, 161,203 spots in all, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group. The speaker was portrayed as, among other things, a cackling witch.

Pelosi insisted that the barrage — the most intense felt by any speaker since Newt Gingrich — was a tribute to her effectiveness in passing the Democrats’ agenda, including the health-care law that is the signature achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency.

In the current presidential campaign, Newsweek’s cover featured a close-up photo of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) that made her appear unhinged. Although those in the Republican presidential field have taken plenty of out-of-the-mainstream positions on issues (moon colonies?), the only woman in the race was asked on Fox News Sunday: “Are you a flake?”

Bachmann’s allies bristled at what they say was dismissive treatment and an intense focus on her appearance.

“There aren’t enough women who want to put themselves through the grinder of the political process,” said Brett O’Donnell, who was one of Bachmann’s top advisers. “We’ve got to stop everything about whether a candidate has cankles, and how she does her nails, and does she wear her hair up or down.”

Prospects for change?

After the 2010 midterm contests, the number of women in the U.S. House dropped for the first time in more than 30 years, albeit by one seat. There are now 73 voting members of the House who are women.

A record 17 women — 12 Democrats, five Republicans — now serve in the Senate, a number that has held steady since 2009. But with two of the senior Republicans retiring this year, and likely to be replaced by men, it is not certain whether there will be that many in the chamber come January.

At a mere 16.8 percent of House membership, women’s representation in the United States’ national legislature last year ranked 78th in the world, tied with Turkmenistan, according to statistics compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
Are there prospects for change? Optimists note that some of the same forces that propelled women into politics two decades ago are once again at work this year.

As Hill’s treatment by the all-male Senate Judiciary Committee galvanized women then, some activists are hoping there is a similar potential in the current controversies around gender issues — including the subject of contraception, something that younger voters might have thought had been settled by their mothers’ and their grandmothers’ generations.
Democrats have declared that Republicans are waging a “war on women.” And with commentators such as Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher under fire for the language they have used about women, left and right are twisting themselves into knots to make the case that the other side’s partisans are more boorish than their own.

Meanwhile, there are also practical considerations working to encourage women to run for office. The combination of once-a-decade redistricting and the generally unsettled state of the electorate are potentially opening up opportunities for newcomers.

A number of feminist organizations, including one that calls itself the 2012 Project, have stepped up their efforts to recruit and train women to run for office. Spearheaded by Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, the project is working with more than 100 organizations across the country and across party lines to increase the number of women in Congress and state legislatures.

There are similar campaigns underway in many individual states. With a former state Senate colleague who is a Republican, Iowa’s Lloyd-Jones has founded an organization, called 50-50 in 2020, that seeks to see as many Iowa women as men serving in public office by the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

That’s a tall order, considering that Iowa has never sent a woman to Congress, or elected a female governor. (The only other state to share that distinction is Mississippi; four states have never elected a woman to U.S. House or Senate.)

But all these efforts may be paying off.

While the filing deadlines in many states have not yet passed, there appear to be record or near-record numbers of women making or considering a bid for governor or Congress, according to the Rutgers center.

But it also appears that one long-standing trend is holding up and down the ballot: Far fewer Republican women than Democratic women are running.

In conservative Idaho, whose filing deadline was this month, nearly four in 10 of the Democratic candidates for the state legislature are women, while only 13 percent of the Republican candidates are, said Gary Moncrief, a political science professor at Boise State University.

“In other words, a Democratic candidate is three times more likely to be a woman than is a Republican candidate,” he said. “In Idaho, it isn’t a gender gap; it’s a gender chasm.”

That frustrates many Republicans, given the crossover appeal that their female candidates have shown in general election contests. In 2010, for instance, all four of the women who won governor’s races were Republicans.
They included two women of color: New Mexico’s Susana Martinez, a Latina; and Indian American Nikki Haley in South Carolina. Both are being mentioned as possible running mates for the GOP presidential nominee.
Political scientists and feminist activists are in wide agreement as to what is, and what isn’t, behind the relatively small number of women in elected office.

It’s no longer a question of biased attitudes or entrenched resistance — at least, not on the part of voters or the political establishment.

“Study after study finds that, when women run for office, they perform just as well as their male counterparts. No differences emerge in women and men’s fundraising receipts, vote totals, or electoral success,” wrote Lawless and Fox.

What is different, these and other researchers have found, is the attitude that women have about making a career of politics.

It has long been true that women tend to start their political careers at a later age, often after their kids are grown; that they usually do not consider running unless they are asked, which is less likely to happen to women than men; and that they are more likely to be drawn in by working on local issues — fixing their schools, even getting a four-way stop sign on their streets — than by long-standing ambition, said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics.

Lawless and Fox surveyed nearly 4,000 plausible male and female candidates — lawyers, educators, activists and the like. They found that women are more likely than men to believe that the electorate is biased against female candidates and that they are less confident in their own qualifications to run. While 35 percent of the men they surveyed pronounced themselves “very qualified” for office, only 22 percent of the similarly situated women did. Also telling: Of those who considered themselves completely unqualified, 55 percent of the men reported that they had, nonetheless, given the idea of running some thought; only 39 percent of women had.

Political scientists also note that there are far fewer women than once expected in the pipeline to higher office. Term limits in state legislatures, for instance, were once thought to be a boon to women, because they would weaken the power of incumbency.

Instead, because the gains for women have been so slow, the opposite has happened. A number of studies show more women have been forced to leave office than have been elected because of term-limit laws.

A political boot camp

About 150 women, most of them running for or thinking about running for offices from school board to Congress, gathered this month on the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick, N.J., for what the Center for American Women and Politics calls its “Ready to Run” program.

It amounted to a political boot camp, where they got advice on everything from how to build a fundraising network to posture and makeup tips for television interviews.

They were told that they needed to get their message down to three or four key points. They were coached that — as distasteful as they might find it — going negative against their opponent is usually necessary, especially for those who are trying to take out an incumbent.

Lawless and Fox’s research is only the latest to suggest that women are more likely to be deterred from running by its more disagreeable aspects: having to ask people for money and knock on their doors, the loss of privacy for themselves and their families, and, particularly, the potential of having to mount an attack strategy.

Female candidates’ platforms also have to be far broader than the “women’s issues” that brought many of their predecessors into politics.

In this environment, “I don’t care what you’re running for right now — dogcatcher, mayor, city council, whatever — you need to have an economic plan,” Democratic pollster Celinda Lake told the gathering at Rutgers.

While women have not reached anything close to parity in elected office, they are no longer the rarities they once were either. They will not be given the benefits of the enormous doubts that the electorate now has about the entire political system.

“Voters no longer grant women automatically the mantle of change,” Lake warned them. “They are beginning to believe women can be as much a part of the problem as men, so you need to grab the mantle of change.”

All of those things were good advice for anyone running, but it was clear that these candidates are facing some questions their male counterparts haven’t.

One woman running for school board in New York wanted to know how she should respond when voters ask who would be taking care of her small children if she is elected.

As she put it: “I know what they are getting at when they say, ‘Why are you here?’ ”

Staff researcher Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.

2012 Election: Add Women, Change Everything

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on March 22nd, 2012 by admin – 2 Comments

By Laurie Kretchmar

2012 is a pivotal election year for a number of reasons, not least of which is the opportunity for a record number of women to be elected to state legislatures and Congress; the 2012 Project on the importance of more female voices in government

Not one state – not California, not New York – has women serving in half the seats in its state legislature. California’s is 28 percent, while New York’s is only 21 percent. South Carolina trails the nation at 9 percent.

Women are best represented in Colorado, where they hold 41 percent of seats. Does the presence of women make a difference? Research says it does. Women tend to bring different agendas, content and processes. As The White House Project memorably says: “Add women; change everything.”

I asked Karen Middleton, president of Emerge America, a Democratic training organization, about serving as a state legislator in Colorado.

“I saw strong bipartisan support for some key issues affecting women and children,” Middleton said. “Laws around veterans’ families, domestic violence, cancer screening — we did great work in these areas. Women on both sides of the aisle led the way on important legislation, such as re-purposing coal plants with natural gas turbines–a new law that helped the environment and kept energy-related jobs in the state.”

Patricia Lindner, a Republican who served in the Illinois legislature, said, “Women are more willing to cut the partisan bickering and work with all sides to accomplish goals.”

To inspire more women to consider politics, the nonpartisan 2012 Project, where I work as media director, is working with dozens of allies including The White House Project, Emerge America and Rachel’s Network. The goal is to educate people about the low numbers of women in office today and ask accomplished women to consider running for state legislatures and Congress.

As USA Today reports, this year is a potentially record year for electing women – if women run. There are open seats in state legislatures and Congress due to redistricting in every state, 13 states with term limits and an expected presidential election year turnout.

Women and newcomers do best running for open seats. Of the 24 new women elected to Congress in 1992, known as the “Year of the Woman,” 22 won open seats. There is vast room for improvement. In 20 states today, zero women serve in congressional delegations.

What if this isn’t your year? You love the idea of electing more women, but the moment isn’t right for you. What can you do?

  • Help The 2012 Project to get the word out about the opportunities that remain.
  • Reach out to women in your community who may not have considered running. Remember, women often wait to be asked to run; issue that invitation yourself as a citizen who’d like to see better government. Consider women from backgrounds and professions that haven’t been well represented in government, and look for women of color, who can also bring distinctive perspectives.
  • Refer any women you think would make great candidates to The 2012 Project at We will provide women interested in exploring a candidacy with a roadmap to launch a successful campaign.
  • Support women candidates. Whatever your own political leanings, find a woman candidate you admire and boost her candidacy, whether as a donor or volunteer. Check out this regularly updated list of women running for Congress and statewide executive offices (with links to candidate websites in many cases), or find out who’s running for the legislature or local offices in your state.
  • When it comes time to cast your ballot, vote for the women candidates of your choice.

Is 2012 the Year for Women?

Posted in In the News on March 15th, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

Check out The Daily Rundown on MSNBC to find out…

Female candidates for Congress on upward trend

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on January 30th, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

WASHINGTON – The roster of congressional candidates for this year’s elections is taking shape and one trend is emerging: 2012 could be another “Year of the Woman” in American politics.


Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has tried to encourage more women to run for congressional office.

By J. Scott Applewhite, AP
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has tried to encourage more women to run for congressional office.


The moniker was famously applied in 1992 when four women were elected to the Senate, a high watermark for the chamber that has never been surpassed.

This year, however, a notable number of candidates are running in potentially competitive races in both the House of Representatives and Senate that could send a wave of female lawmakers to Washington in November. If so, it would reverse the 2010 election trend that saw the first dip in female representation in the House since 1978 and only sent one woman, New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte, to the Senate.

In the 2012 Senate lineup, there are 10 female candidates — four Republicans and six Democrats — seeking office. Of the six states with female Democratic candidates — Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota and Wisconsin — none has ever elected a woman to the Senate.

Republican women are running in Connecticut, Hawaii, Missouri and New Mexico.

“Both parties have made a concerted effort to attract more women candidates,” said Jessica Taylor, a senior analyst for the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report. Taylor said campaign operations are cognizant of seeking out diverse candidates and female candidates can be particularly appealing because independent female voters are often a decisive voting bloc in elections.

Leading female lawmakers — including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who runs the Senate Democrats‘ campaign operation — have made concerted efforts to recruit more women to run.

The Democratic congressional campaign operation is fielding candidates in 76 House races they hope to make competitive, and about half of those districts have female candidates.

“Many of us view gender parity as a goal for Congress,” said Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., who has helped recruit candidates this year.

Democratic candidates include Val Demings, an African-American woman who was Orlando’s first female police chief; Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth in Illinois; and Iowan Christie Vilsack, the wife of former governor and current Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., who chairs Democrats’ recruitment, said women can be very effective messengers when so many Americans are worried about kitchen-table issues affecting family finances and when voters increasingly say they want lawmakers to compromise and get things done.

“They (women) come as problem solvers,” Schwartz said.

Republicans agree, but have had less success in recruiting women to run for the GOP. House Republicans are fielding seven female candidates in potentially competitive races in California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri.

“Bottom line is these women will make great representatives,” says Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the House Republican campaign operation. “Not only do they come from different backgrounds and professions, in many households, they control the family budget.”

Among female GOP candidates are former representative Heather Wilson, a Senate candidate in New Mexico, and Ann Wagner, a former Missouri Republican Party chairwoman and a former ambassador to Luxembourg, who is seeking a House seat.




Article by Susan Davis, USA Today

Click here to open article on


Conference Readies Women to Run for Political Office

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on January 23rd, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment
By Deanna Garcia
(Deanna Garcia/Essential Public Radio)
Executive Speech and Presentation Coach Deb Sofield talked about the art of public speaking.
Women outnumber men in the U.S. according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but their numbers are few when it comes to elected office be it on the local, state or federal level. A national movement is trying to change that by teaching women about the political process. One such event was held in Pittsburgh over the weekend.

Pennsylvania Near the Bottom

Pennsylvania ranks 42 in the nation when it comes to women holding elected office. Out of 50 state senators, 11 are women, and out of 203 representatives, 33 are women. The Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University aims to increase the female presence in politics and public policy through events such as Saturday’s Ready to Run Conference.

“We need to run campaigns that are very viable, very professional, that are very excellent campaigns that people can remember whether we win or lose,” said Valerie McDonald Roberts, Manager for the Allegheny County Department of Real Estate. She also held the office when it was an elected position.

Roberts was on a panel at the event, which drew about 75 women from Allegheny County and surrounding areas. She said there are several reasons there aren’t more women in politics.

“We have been marginalized for so many years. We are dealing with a deficit, a structural deficit that has been rolling over year after year after year with women and minorities not being at the seat of the table,” Roberts said.

That was the prevailing feeling in the room — that breaking into the so-called “Good Old Boys” system is extremely hard to do, but not impossible if women can learn to be heard and learn to be confident.

Women attending the Ready to Run conference
(Deanna Garcia/Essential Public Radio)
Saturday’s Ready to Run conference at Chatham University was one of several events around the county intended to encourage more women to run for public office.

“To be aggressive, to be focused, to not only want a seat at the table, but to take it. It is not going to be given to you, you need to know how to take it just like men have for hundreds and hundreds of years,” said Roberts.

But, it seems that every campaign season there’s an aggressive woman who ends up getting labeled negatively as a ball-buster, witch, or something that rhymes with ‘witch,’ but Roberts said that’s just become a reality in politics.

“We have to understand that there is a double standard, we are not going to defeat that double standard, but we need to get around that double standard,” she said.

Money Talks

Panelist Deb Sofield is an executive speech and presentation coach. She said in the political arena, reality is harsh. When a male candidate cries, people see him as sensitive; when a woman cries, she’s labeled as overly emotional or crazy. While there was a lot of talk about institutional challenges, and that double standard, the main obstacle facing women who want to run for office is money.

“It’s an expensive game. You’ve gotta build your network then make your net work. What you have to do is find some way for people to financially put you where you need to be,” said Sofield.

An afternoon session was focused solely on the financial aspect of running for office. Only a handful of the women in attendance are currently thinking of running for office soon, and they all expressed discomfort with asking for money. That is true of Stephanie Gallagher. She’s currently a supervisor of Buffalo Township, Washington County, but is considering a run for state office. She says she knows she has to overcome her reluctance to ask for money.

“It’s a very humbling experience. You don’t really want to ask people. You’re hoping they just know you need it and that’s not always the case. The key is to ask,” she said.

Knowing the Game

Panelists touched on a wide variety of topics, including body language, speech patterns, ways to stand, and hand shaking. Organizers wouldn’t allow reporting of the actual panel and discussions in an effort to allow the speakers and participants to feel comfortable being as open and honest as possible.

Overall, Gallagher said the experience was an empowering one. “You just have to stand your ground and know your beliefs and just do what you feel is the right thing to do,” she said. “I’m ready to stand a bigger ground and push more positive action to another level.”

The overriding message of the day to the women was to know what they’re talking about, and that if women want to be taken seriously, they have to do their homework before stepping into the public eye.

“Don’t go out there because someone says you should run for office and you think it’s a good idea. You don’t want to embarrass yourself. If you don’t do due diligence and don’t do an assessment to see if everything is feasible, you don’t want to embarrass yourself, you don’t want to get out there and cause embarrassment for other women,” said Valerie McDonald Roberts.

Ready to Run events will be held in other U.S. cities in the next few months, mostly with the goal of jump starting some campaigns for the 2012 election cycle and beyond.