Archive for March 30th, 2012

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.