‘Women in Politics’ moderator reveals sobering stats about state’s lack of diversity

Posted in In the News on April 3rd, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Barbara Miller
Staff Writer

CANONSBURG – Pennsylvania ranks 39th of 50 state Legislatures for its proportion of women.

There are nine women out of 50 state senators and 36 women among 203 state House members, making up just 17.8 percent of the total. Thirty-eight of 67 counties have no women serving as county commissioner, a member of a county council or as a county executive.

“There should be gasps all across the room,” said Dana Brown, executive director of the nonpartisan Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, Pittsburgh, at a “Women in Politics” forum Thursday night at Southpointe.

In a wide-ranging discussion, women who have overcome this dismal record talked about what it takes to beat the statistics.

In 1995, Diana Irey Vaughan was the first woman elected Washington County commissioner.

In the same year, Katherine B. Emery was the second woman elected to the Washington County bench, and in January, she became the Washington County’s second female president judge. In 2012, Pam Snyder was the first woman to represent Washington and Greene county in the General Assembly. And last November, Camera Bartolotta became the first woman to represent Washington County in the state Senate.

Irey Vaughan revealed when she ran for state treasurer in 2012, she introduced herself to her opponent, Democratic incumbent Rob McCord. “He looked me up and down and said, ‘Now I know why my buddy said, ‘If this was a beauty contest, you’ll lose, Rob,’” commenting Irey Vaughn was “really pretty.” McCord won another term as treasurer, but pleaded guilty earlier this year in federal court to extortion in connection with his unsuccessful run for governor. He is awaiting sentencing.

Bartolotta said Republicans approached her in 2012 about running against Democratic state Rep. Peter Daley, but it was not long after her husband died from a four-year battle with lymphoma, and she declined.

The party again asked her to run two years later, this time, for state Senate. Her daughter, who was in college, came home from Ohio University and mentioned a sorority sister was going to be embarking on a mission trip.

Guatemala or Mexico sprang to Bartolotta’s mind as possible destinations, but she was shocked when she heard where the student was headed: Monessen.

“That was it for me,” said Bartolotta, a Monongahela resident. She announced a run which culminated in the defeat of state Sen. Tim Solobay, a Canonsburg Democrat.

Emery was a school board member, county solicitor and delegate to the 1992 Democratic National Convention which nominated Bill Clinton in his successful run for the White House. Sensing a sea-change in county government in 1995 as Frank Mascara departed for Congress, she thought of running for commissioner but instead focused on a judgeship.

“I turned 40 and became both a mother and a judge in a span of two months,” she told her audience. Emery encouraged women who are thinking of breaking into politics to run, as she did, for school board or try for a local appointed office such as membership on a zoning board.

Snyder warned that women in politics must develop a thick skin. “The social media makes it worse,” she said. “You know who it’s really hard on? My family. My husband, my kids” and even grandchildren. Facebook, Twitter and the online comment posts on local news stories can all bring out viciousness, she and Emery pointed out.

They also suggested that in this local election year, someone who might want to get her feet wet should volunteer for a campaign.

After the conclusion of the discussion, one audience member, Kelley Hoover Heckathorne, director of brokerage services for Burns & Scalo Real Estate Services Inc., Pittsburgh, said, “There are women in politics in Washington County, and I wanted to hear why and how they got into it. It empowers us. I think it was very inspiring.” Read More at www.observer-reporter.com

Pennsylvania has a dearth of female political leaders

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on March 18th, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

It is Women’s History Month and we have much to celebrate. Women continue to enlarge their roles as advocates, inventors, entrepreneurs, educators, journalists and scientists — and the list goes on.

But not one woman belongs to Pennsylvania’s 20-member congressional delegation. Only one woman serves in an elected statewide office, Attorney General Kathleen Kane. Pennsylvania has never elected a woman governor or U.S. senator. Pennsylvania’s Legislature has plateaued in the proportion of women representing the state at 17.8 percent (45 women out of 253 seats). Only 27 percent of our judges are women. Women make up only 19 percent of municipal executives.

There are bright spots locally in Pittsburgh City Council (four of nine districts are represented by women) and Allegheny County Council (women occupy five of 15 seats, both district and at-large).

These may be surprising statistics to many, given that girls and young women not only have closed the gender gap in educational achievement, they have pulled ahead. According to the U.S. Department of Education, women now are earning nearly 60 percent of bachelor degrees.

Girls and young women also rank ahead of their male counterparts on many indicators of civic engagement, including volunteering, voting and membership in community associations. Higher Education Research Institute surveys show that female college students spend more time than male students helping others in need and take more courses that involve community service. Women are overrepresented in service programs such as AmeriCorps and Teach for America.

These achievements in education and love for public service have not closed the gender gap in electoral politics, however. The Higher Education Research Institute also found that male students were more likely to say they have worked with political organizations and expressed their political opinions by contacting elected officials or members of the media. So, while college women are outperforming college men on a number of civic-engagement measures, they are falling short on turning that engagement into political service.

The relative dearth of women serving in public office and of young women interested in electoral politics is worrisome. And that is why the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University seeks to educate and empower women for public leadership.

Read more at www.post-gazette.com

Ready to Run Helps Women Candidates Prepare for the 2015 Municipal Elections

Posted in In the News, Press Release, Women in PA on January 22nd, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

PITTSBURGH: To help address historically low levels of representation of women in Pennsylvania government, The Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics (PCWP) at Chatham University is holdings its 4th annual Ready to Run™ Campaign Training for Women on Saturday, January 31st at Chatham University in Pittsburgh.

According to PCWP data, at the state and local government level women comprise only:

• 17.8 percent of state legislators (representatives and senators)
• 19 percent of municipal executives (e.g. mayors)
• 37.5 percent of county officials (e.g. councilmembers, etc.)
• 35 percent of elected school board members
• 27 percent of the state’s more than 1300 various elected judicial offices

At the same time, there is only one woman serving as a statewide elected official and none at all in the state’s congressional delegation. Research shows that when women run, they win at the same rates as men. If the state is going to increase the number of women holding public office, it needs more women candidates.

“The 2015 municipal election primary will be held May 19th, and the final day to file to appear on the ballot is March 10th. This is the first step to November, where many local offices are on the ballot in the statewide municipal election. These local elective offices touch so many important aspects of our everyday lives—from education policy to public transportation to taxes. With Ready to Run™, we want to make sure women are ready to take a seat at the table at all levels of government” states PCWP Executive Director, Dana Brown.

The 2015 Ready to Run™ training is $65. This year’s training includes a special pre-conference networking and informational event: “Women of Color in Pennsylvania Politics” from 6-8 p.m. Friday, January 30th, which is included in the cost of the workshop. Information and registration atwww.chatham.edu/readytorun.

The PCWP supports women considering seeking elective office with the Ready to Run™ Campaign Training for Women programs. Since 2012, the PCWP has hosted these bi-partisan campaign trainings in both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, giving women with an interest in seeking political office the education, insights, and skills they need to embark on a successful campaign.

More than 250 women have participated in the Ready to Run™ program in Pennsylvania in the past three years the program has been offered. In 2014 alone, the program had 23 alumnae who sought various offices in the 2014 primary and general elections, including state legislators and several congressional candidates. Many program alumnae pursued a start in partisan politics by seeking a spot on their party’s state committee.

“We know that running for office is not always intuitive, which is why the Ready to Run™ program exists: to demystify the process and give women the knowledge, tools, and confidence they need to be well-prepared for the challenge,” PCWP Executive Director Dana Brown said. “It is a powerful head start.”

For more information about the PCWP at Chatham University or Ready to Run™ Campaign Training for Women, please contact Dana Brown, Executive Director at 412-365-2725 or dbrown@chatham.edu.

Why aren’t more women serving in the PA Legislature

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on January 8th, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com 

Pennsylvania is the sixth most populous state yet it ranks 39th in the nation for the percentage of women elected to its state Legislature.

Why don’t more women run for Legislature? Here is what some midstate female legislators have to say about that:

Rep. Mauree Gingrich, R-Cleona, who is beginning her seventh two-year term in the House: “So many things have changed for women over the years. There are more opportunities for women to be effective and develop professionally and choose career paths that were not always available to women. Our job is to make this opportunity at this level in public service more attractive. My concern is women who are highly educated and generally talented and intellectually capable are not choosing to serve.”

Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Lower Allen Twp., a four-term incumbent: “It can be intimidating for women – and men – to run. But in many cases, trying to get women to put their name on the ballot is little more difficult but it’s doable.”

Read more at Pennlive.com

Women Make a Big Difference in Business and Politics

Posted in In the News, Press Release, Women in PA on November 20th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

A recent online survey conducted by the National Association of the Self-Employed revealed that 86 percent of the women business owners questioned plan to vote today.

As leaders of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship and the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics, both at Chatham University’s Women’s Institute, we are not surprised by this statistic. Women in business are keenly interested in government because it impacts both their personal and professional lives.

While the survey is focused on businesswomen, an overall gender gap in voter turnout has characterized every presidential election since 1980. In 2012, 63.7 percent of eligible women in the country voted, compared to 59.8 percent of eligible men, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Candidates know that women have the power to decide elections.

While women are strong performers in the voting booth, they do not run our governments at an equal rate to men. Those who lead us are overwhelmingly white and male. In Pennsylvania’s Legislature and the U.S. Congress, 82 percent of elected leaders are male. Pennsylvania has never elected a woman governor or U.S. senator.

The Women Donors Network found that, of 42,000 elected positions across the nation, ranging from local counties up through Congress, only 29 percent are held by women, even though women make up 51 percent of the population. So, while women have power at the ballot box, it is not translating into power in representation.

This paucity of representation matters. Studies have shown that the presence of women in legislatures makes a difference. Women are more likely to work in a bipartisan manner, more likely to bring new issues to the policy agenda, more likely to use cooperative language in deliberation and more likely to increase government transparency. These effects are believed to result in policy outcomes more inclusive of the entire population.

Meanwhile, the number of women-owned businesses has increased nationally by 68 percent since 1997, a rate one and a half times the national average. The growth of these firms also is higher than that of all other privately held businesses during this time period. Census data nevertheless indicate that, while women-owned businesses represent about 50 percent of privately held companies in the United States, most of them (75 percent) reach only up to $50,000 in annual gross revenues. Only 2.6 percent reported more than $1 million in annual revenues, compared to 6 percent of men-owned firms.

Read More at post-gazette.com

5 reasons why there aren’t more women in politics and business

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on November 20th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, contributed to this article.

The ballots have been cast and counted. The voting polls have been packed up and volunteers have gone back to their day jobs. Political signs are coming down and commentaries are beginning to turn to different topics. But one aspect of politics continues to exist: The paucity of women in elective office.

A study done by the Women Donors Network, a national advocacy organization, notes that of 42,000 elected positions across the nation, ranging from local counties up through Congress, 29 percent of the positions are held by women — even though women make up 51 percent of the population.

The 2014 midterm election garnered attention with notable firsts for women in politics, including the first woman elected to Congress from Iowa (Joni Ernst), the first Republican black woman elected to Congress (Mia Love), and the first time we have 100 women serving in Congress due to a special election in North Carolina (Alma Adams was sworn in on Wednesday).

Yet, the influence and inclusion of women in politics is far from overwhelming.

From politics to business

The reason why the lack of women holding political office is significant is the same reason that the lack of women in the C-suite is significant. When more women hold top positions in politics and business, everyone benefits.

Studies show that women in political office tend to work in more a bipartisan manner and are more likely than their male counterparts to bring new issues and perspectives to the policy agenda. Female elected officials are also known to increase government transparency.

Read More at bizjournals.com

2014 Midterm Leaves Pennsylvania with No Women in Congress

Posted in In the News, Press Release, Women in PA on November 20th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

PCWP Report: 2014 Midterm Leaves Pennsylvania with No Women in Congress

PITTSBURGH—The Pennsylvania Center for Women in Politics (PCWP)at Chatham University reports that in the wake of the 2014-midterm elections, the U.S. Congress has reached an important milestone where 100 women will serve in the U.S. House of Representatives (the first time in U.S. History) and twenty women (a record set in 2012) will likely continue to serve in the U.S. Senate. However, none of these women will be representing the state of Pennsylvania.

A handful of other states also have no women in their delegation, but Pennsylvania is the most populous. The absence of women is counter to a national trend that has seen an increase in the number of women running and winning congressional offices in states all over the country. The 2014 mid-term elections saw Iowa elect its state’s first woman to Congress, Republican Joni Ernst, and in 2012, New Hampshire famously elected an entirely all-female delegation.

While women challenged incumbents in six of the state’s 18 U.S. House Districts, none of them were successful. Democrat Allyson Schwartz, who was the lone woman in the state’s congressional delegation, chose to (unsuccessfully) seek her party’s nomination for governor rather than seek re-election to Congress. Pennsylvania’s two U.S. Senators are men.

“Unfortunately, Pennsylvania will not be sending any women as part of its congressional delegation to Washington. While women are 51% of the population they will not be present at the congressional table. This matters not just for the sake of democracy, but it may have policy implications, as we know that women bring different perspective to governing,” said Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics Executive Director Dana Brown.

In Pennsylvania’s General Assembly, levels of women’s representation remained stagnant. In the state Senate, three incumbents—Christine Tartaglione (D-2nd), Lisa Boscola (D-18th), and Lisa Baker (R-20th)—retained their seats. Current state representative Michele Brooks (R-17th) successfully ran for an open seat in the senate and a fifth woman, newcomer Camera Bartolotta (R-46th) successfully challenged incumbent Senator Tim Solobay. Five additional women, all Democrats, were defeated in their bids.

In the House, 68 women candidates were on the ballot—42 Democrats, 25 Republicans, and one Libertarian. Of these, the Republican women fared much better, as 22 of the 25 were successful. Brown noted, “While the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf won by a large margin, this support did not translate to Democrats farther down the ballot. Republican candidates in Pennsylvania seem to have continued the trend that we saw nationally, in which female GOP candidates also did well.” Only 14 of the 42 Democrats won their races. As a result, the incoming General Assembly will continue to have one of the lowest levels of women’s representation in the country—a mere 17.8%. There will be nine women in State’s Senate (currently eight) and 36 (currently 37) in the State House.

Brown emphasized the importance of encouraging women of both parties to seek political office, “The key is to have more women candidates running for office at all levels in Pennsylvania. By doing so, PA will have a stronger pipeline of potential women candidates to run for higher office.”

Research shows that when women run, they win at the same rates as men. Thus, if the state is going to increase the number of women holding public office, it needs more women candidates. The Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics supports women considering seeking elective office with the Ready to Run™ Campaign Training For Women programs. Since 2012, the PCWP has hosted these campaign trainings in both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, giving women with an interest in seeking political office the education, insights, and skills they need to embark on a successful campaign. The next training will be held January 31, 2015 at Chatham University in Pittsburgh.

For more information about the PCWP at Chatham University or Ready to Run™ Campaign Training for Women, visit www.chatham.edu/pcwp/ or please contact Dana Brown, Executive Director at 412-365-2725 or dbrown@chatham.edu.

Famous Pittsburghers Profile: Dana Brown

Posted in In the News on October 31st, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

Dana Brown, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, grew up in Castle Shannon and attended Keystone Oaks High School. The Center’s mission is to help more women run and get elected to public office. Ms. Brown’s interest in politics was sparked early in her life. “I watched my first presidential debate in the fourth grade and was hooked. I also learned at an early age through history classes that politics was a way in which to overcome injustices, which is really powerful,” said Ms. Brown.

A graduate of Allegheny College, she received her master’s degree from Rutgers University, and is now working on her Ph.D. in Political Science. She and her husband live in the Regent Square area, and appreciate what Pittsburgh has to offer. “I like that Pittsburgh is large enough to have sports teams, a cultural district, and a metropolitan atmosphere while being small enough that you can really make a difference here. I find that you can reach out to your elected officials easily and get involved in community projects,” said Ms. Brown.


Read More at Popular Pittsburgh

The Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics: Helping Women Seek Office

Posted in In the News on September 16th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

If you’ve ever observed a car with a steering wheel locked in a turn, you know that the car will go nowhere but in a circle. Perhaps that’s why our government sometimes seems to be running in circles and getting nothing done–it has been turned in one direction. While the population of Pennsylvania is almost equally divided between women and men, women are woefully under-represented in our governing bodies.

The Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics
at Chatham University is intent on correcting that imbalance. The Center, in addition to doing political research on women in politics, offers several programs to empower women to seek elected office including Ready to Run Campaign School, NEW Leadership, and the Elsie Hillman Chair in Women & Politics. Pittsburgh native, Dana Brown is the Center’s Executive Director, and Popular Pittsburgh asked her about the state of women in politics in Pennsylvania and how the Center can help more women seek office and win a seat.

Read More at Popular Pittsburgh

Pa, N.J. women face obstacles in political races

Posted in In the News on June 9th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

WASHINGTON – When the smoke cleared from congressional primary season, women had taken one step forward in New Jersey, and one back in Pennsylvania.

The result: Come January, two states with a combined 34 seats in the Senate and House will likely include just one or, at most, two women.

“It’s pathetic,” Julie Roginsky, a New Jersey Democratic consultant, said of her party’s failure to elect a Garden State woman to Congress since 1976.

That drought is likely to end in November, thanks to the results of Tuesday’s primaries. Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman, a Democrat, won the party’s nomination in a heavily Democratic central New Jersey district and is favored to win in the fall. In South Jersey, Democrats nominated Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard for the seat being vacated by Republican Jon Runyan. She faces a tougher fall race but has a viable shot in a competitive district.

New Jersey, with a 14-person Senate and House delegation, hasn’t had any women in Congress since Republican Margaret Roukema left office Jan. 3, 2003.

In Pennsylvania, with 20 Senate and House seats, the only woman – Democrat Allyson Y. Schwartz of Abington – is on her way out, having run for her party’s gubernatorial nomination and lost in the state’s May 20 primary.

Three women who hoped to replace her (two Democrats and one Republican) also fell short that day, as did Shaughnessy Naughton, a Democrat who sought nomination in the Bucks County-centered Eighth District.

So, barring a major upset, Pennsylvania’s delegation will become all-male when a new Congress begins in January.

“If you don’t have [women] at the table, you don’t really have the full representation of the state’s population,” said Kelly Dittmar, assistant research professor at Rutgers University’s Center on Women in American Politics.

Academic experts and political consultants described a range of structural and cultural obstacles that confront female candidates.

The B word. Men who are aggressive or abrasive, qualities sometimes needed to win in politics, “are considered strong leaders,” said Roginsky, a board member at Yale University’s Women Campaign School. “Women who are aggressive or abrasive are considered bitches.”

Where bosses rule. Congressional maps make most House seats safe for incumbents, who often serve for decades, leaving few chances for newcomers. When seats do open up, support for a replacement is often decided by local party organizations, generally still dominated by men.

Local party bosses have immense sway in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, particularly in congressional races, which typically hinge on support in just one or two counties.

In statewide races, by contrast, New Jersey had a two-term female governor, Christine Todd Whitman, and Pennsylvania in 2012 elected Kathleen G. Kane as attorney general.

Of course, those races are also reminders of a non-gender factor: It takes good candidates to win. Both Kane and Whitman ran smart campaigns that won wide support.

“The party apparatus, while they talk about supporting women, it’s more talk than real action,” said Whitman, a Republican. “I don’t think it’s all sexism, but when the people that you spend your time with all look like you, you tend to support those people.”

When it comes to breaking into the party infrastructure, women are more likely than men to vote and volunteer, but are less likely to write the big political checks that secure access and influence, said Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University in Pittsburgh.

Party warlords, Whitman said, “let women run for offices that they think they won’t win. That’s what happened to me in 1990.”

That year, in a race for the U.S. Senate, she took on a popular Democratic incumbent, Bill Bradley. “I got, basically, no support,” she said. National Republicans pulled back a promised $300,000 ad buy 10 days before the election, Whitman said. She lost by three percentage points.

The close race provided a springboard to her gubernatorial run three years later, but Whitman still faced a primary fight, something she said would not have confronted a man who had done so well against Bradley.

Last year, another woman, former State Sen. Barbara Buono, was the Democrats’ sacrificial nominee against Gov. Christie.

Read More at philly.com