Women in PA

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.


State program aiming to get women in office

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on January 3rd, 2012 by admin – 1 Comment

Chelsa Wagner knows that being a woman in a field where men “tend to groom replacements for themselves” can present challenges.

One of Pittsburgh’s first women to be elected to a full term in the state House, Wagner officially leaves behind that job in Harrisburg when she is inaugurated today as Allegheny County’s first female controller.

“You can’t change the nature of the game,” said Wagner, a Beechview Democrat. “You have to figure out how to run within it.”


Roll Call Report: Democratic Doylestown Supervisor Exploring Run for Congress in PA-8

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on October 27th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

Doylestown Supervisor Cynthia Philo, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully against state Senator Chuck McIlhinney in 2010, is considering a run for Congress in Pennsylvania’s Eighth Congressional District, according to a report published by Roll Call on Tuesday.

Read More: http://www.politicspa.com/roll-call-report-democratic-doylestown-supervisor-exploring-run-for-congress-in-pa-8/28972/

Not at the Table? Must be on the Menu

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on October 3rd, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

Over the past several years, women running for office around the country have made headlines, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, to name a few. But these high-profile women obscure a sad truth: the percentage of American women holding public office remains dismally low. Today, women hold 24 percent of state legislative offices; 21 percent of the statewide offices; 17 percent of US Senate seats; 17 percent of the seats in the US House of Representatives and 12 percent of governorships.

Read More: http://bizchicks.org/2011/09/not-at-the-table-must-be-on-the-menu-…/

N.J. governor: Gender balance key in redistricting

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on September 26th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

As Pennsylvania prepares to redraw its legislative map, former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman issued a warning Friday: Don’t end up like New Jersey.

Women legislators in that state lost ground, she noted, after New Jersey officials redrew districts that, deliberately or not, favored districts with male incumbents.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11267/1177194-53.stm#ixzz1Z4Msuc24

Women Should Be More Involved with Politics, Say Panelists

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on September 26th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

The Pennsylvania 2012 Project held its Western Pennsylvania Inaugural Conference on Friday in Downtown Pittsburgh. About two hundred community stakeholders attended to listen to a variety of speakers discuss the role of women in politics, the obstacles they face, and different ways to increase their numbers.

Read More: http://www.essentialpublicradio.org/story/2011-09-23/women-should-be-more-involved-politics-say-panelists-7338

Pa. redistricting panel urged to consider gender

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on September 15th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

A panel charged with redrawing Pennsylvania’s legislative map was urged at a public hearing Wednesday to consider the impact of its revisions on the number of women serving in the state Capitol.

“Women may lose ground in this redistricting process,” said Dana Brown, the executive director of Chatham University’s Center for Women and Politics.

Read More: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/ap/politics/2011/Sep/14/pa__redistricting_panel_urged_to_consider_gender.html

The Women’s Campaign Forum Announces Endorsements in PA Local Races

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on September 6th, 2011 by admin – 1 Comment

In Pennsylvania, which ranks 42nd in the country for women’s representation in local government and has only one woman in its Congressional delegation, this fall’s election season could be a big deal for women’s rights groups.

The Women’s Campaign Forum (WCF) has recently announced a group of local candidates that they are endorsing in the fall elections. According to its website, WCF “endorses qualified women candidates running for all levels of office, across the country, of any political party, who pledge to support reproductive health choices and options for all.”

Read More: http://www.politicspa.com/wcf-announces-endorsements-in-pa-local-races/27438/

2012 Project seeking women candidates

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on July 19th, 2011 by admin – 1 Comment

Former congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper hadn’t considered running for office until a friend suggested it, and she spent six months considering the repercussions of a long campaign before deciding to run for Congress in 2007.

“Honestly, it was not something I was thinking about before I was asked,” said Ms. Dahlkemper, of Erie, who represented Pennsylvania’s 3rd District from 2009 to 2011.

Research shows that unlike men, women need to be recruited to run for office, and the number of women serving in elected office has declined since the last election.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11198/1160882-178-0.stm#ixzz1SYnL4X6t

Women’s network discusses politics

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on July 14th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

Dana M. Brown wants more South Hills women involved in politics.

Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics and an associate professor of political science at Chatham University, is concerned about how revamping legislative districts this year will affect women, and therefore wants more women involved.

Read More: http://www.yoursouthhills.com/southhillsrecord/article/womens-network-discusses-politics