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.
Women in PA
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper’s mission to empower women is featured on the radio. Click here to listen: http://tinyurl.com/6k9fnow.
Bonnie VanKirk was appointed Monday night to fill a vacant Mt. Lebanon commissioner’s seat.
The commission voted 3-0 to appoint Ms. VanKirk to the seat, representing Ward 1, vacated by D. Raja. He resigned to devote his efforts to campaigning for Allegheny County chief executive.
WASHINGTON — Erie’s Kathy Dahlkemper has been weighing a run for her old seat in Congress and said she will decide by early summer whether she will enter the race.