In the News

After another ‘Year of the Woman,’ how close is Pa. to gender parity in politics? (Not very)

Posted in In the News on September 13th, 2019 by admin – Be the first to comment


Political experts panel analyzes midterm results

Posted in In the News on September 13th, 2019 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Mary Rose O’Donnell, For The Pitt News 


Pennsylvania surprised the United States in the 2016 presidential elections by leaning right for the first time since 1988 and electing President Donald Trump by one percentage point. After a long hiatus from voting red, Pennsylvania’s fate seemed unsure.


Members of the Pittsburgh community gathered in Chatham University’s Mellon Living Room on Nov. 8 to discuss the 2018 Midterm Election Results. Organized by the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics, the post-election analysis covered state and federal election results — including Pennsylvania’s 2016 conservative swing and the recent blue wave in the United States. It specifically looked at female voters and candidates’ roles in what happened on election night.


Dr. Dana Brown, executive director of PCWP, hosted the event and moderated a panel of experts on state and federal politics. The panel included Anissa Coury, chair of the Allegheny Young Republicans, Dr. Nancy Patton Mills, chair of the Pennsylvania Democrats, Chris Potter, government & accountability editor of WESA, and MJ Slaby, reporter and curator of The Incline.


Brown kicked off the evening by sharing the successes of female candidates in Pennsylvania. According to Brown, there was a 71 percent increase in female-held seats in the state Senate, a 24 percent increase in female-held seats in the state House and, in total, 66 female victories on the 2018 Pennsylvania General Election Ballot. But the panel wasn’t sure what these election results and political advancements mean for women.


“There is definitely a message of involvement, especially when you look at who is getting into politics … people were interested and excited to see what happened,” Slaby said.


Mills said she believes voter turnout and enthusiasm played a large role in the election outcome. She said each party was motivated to vote due to fear or excitement regarding the current state of the country — Democrats to gain more equilibrium and Republicans to keep control.


“The base of the Democratic party and the base of the Republican party were both energized to a very high pitched level. The Democrats that came out were terrified at the direction of our country,” Mills said. “The Republicans that came out were very involved in trying to prove that they were right by electing Trump.”


Potter said the Pennsylvania elections for governor and senator echoed each party’s respective concerns or enthusiasms regarding President Trump. He cited the victories of Democrats Gov. Tom Wolf and Sen. Bob Casey Jr. in their respective races and how on the flip side, many local races turned red. He said he believes the Brett Kavanaugh hearings played a role in uniting and engaging Republicans in the midterm election. Read more at The Pitt News.

Five Pa. House races to watch

Posted in In the News on September 13th, 2019 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Emily Wolfe, Staff Writer

The 2016 presidential election came down to less than 1 percentage point in Pennsylvania — President Donald Trump won its 20 electoral votes by fewer than 100,000 votes. But the state’s congressional races looked much more lopsided, with two-thirds of the state’s 18 districts electing Republicans.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down Pennsylvania’s congressional map earlier this year for not being representative, and the replacement map has made Pennsylvania a key battleground state for Democrats hoping to gain a majority in the House in Tuesday’s midterm election.

With the new map, the fact that midterm elections tend to favor the party out of power and the high level of Democratic engagement he’s seen this election, Vice President of Pitt College Democrats Alex Giorgetti is optimistic about Democrats’ chances in the midterms.

“There’s districts that just look … less gerrymandered, however you want to interpret that,” Giorgetti, a junior history major, said of the new map. “A lot more districts now favor Democrats than have in the past.”

Conor Guiser, the public relations director of Pitt College Republicans, agreed that the new map made it unlikely Republicans would pick up seats in Pennsylvania.

“But I think we would all be happy with seeing new congresspeople across the country who share our values, or at the very least respect them in the sense that Republicans and Democrats can work together,” Guiser, a junior economics and political science major, said.

FiveThirtyEight’s elections forecast, which has become the gold standard of election prediction, says Democrats are likely to win nine out of 18 seats in Pennsylvania in November, and could come away with as many as 11. Read more at The Pitt News

Vote for the Woman Because She’s a Woman

Posted in In the News on August 22nd, 2019 by admin – Be the first to comment

7:21 AM EDT

In February, Nevada became the first state in the country with a female-majority legislature. By June, with the help of the state’s Democratic governor, there were stronger laws ensuring equal pay for women, tougher penalties for domestic violence, better protection for sexual-assault survivors, more money for family-planning services, an end to a requirement that forced doctors to ask women their marital status before performing an abortion and an increased minimum wage. If anyone needed proof that having more female lawmakers benefits women, Nevada certainly makes a compelling case.

And yet female voters have often rejected the idea that women should vote with gender in mind. In 2016, Nancy Pelosi told Politico podcasters, “I don’t think that any woman should be asked to vote for someone because she’s a woman.” Of course it would be ridiculous to suggest that someone hop party lines to vote along gender ones, or support a candidate who fails to prioritize what she sees as a key issue. But in primaries where contenders have similar ideologies, there’s a strong argument to be made for backing a woman.

In their book Gendered Vulnerability: How Women Work Harder to Stay in Office, political scientists Jeffrey Lazarus and Amy Steigerwalt found that women in Congress are generally more effective than their male colleagues. They point to the fact that Congresswomen tend to have more staff in their district offices, serve on committees for issues that are of most interest to their constituents and are more likely to co-sponsor legislation that helps their voters. Separate research shows that female lawmakers bring more federal money back to their districts.

Women are more likely to run for elective office for the right reasons too. In her book Women Transforming Congress, political science professor Cindy Simon Rosenthal describes surveying lawmakers about why they got into politics. Most male legislators said it was something they’d always wanted to do. Female legislators, on the other hand, said they hoped to create social change and become more involved in their communities. In many instances, men run for office to be something while women run to do something. Read more at Time. 

Senator proposes blocking men’s World Cup funds until U.S. women’s team gets equal pay

Posted in In the News on August 12th, 2019 by admin – Be the first to comment

West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin announced a bill Tuesday to withhold federal dollars for the men’s World Cup unless the U.S. women’s national soccer team receives pay equity.

Manchin’s proposed bill would deny federal funding for the men’s 2026 FIFA tournament, which the U.S. will co-host along with Canada and Mexico, unless there’s equal pay between both the men’s and women’s soccer teams.

“The clear unequitable pay between the U.S. men’s and women’s soccer teams is unacceptable and I’m glad the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team latest victory is causing public outcry,” Senator Manchin said. “They are the best in the world and deserve to be paid accordingly.”

Manchin said that his inspiration for the bill was a letter from West Virginia University (WVU) Women’s Soccer Head Coach, Nikki Izzo-Brown.

Izzo-Brown’s letter to Manchin pointed out that the women’s team makes a profit while the men, who did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup, produce a net loss.

“The inequality of pay is unjust and this wage gap with the US men’s national team has to stop,” Izzo-Brown wrote. “The women have won four titles, men none; the women’s viewership in the FIFA World Cup final outdrew the men in the United States by over three million ( men 11.4 , women 14.3).” Read more at NBCNews


A Pink Wave in Pennsylvania Politics in 2018, but Men Will Still Hold 75 Percent of State Legislative Offices

Posted in In the News, Press Release on January 3rd, 2019 by admin – Be the first to comment

PITTSBURGH – While 2018 saw record gains for women winning elective office in the Commonwealth, when Pennsylvania’s new congressional delegation and General Assembly are sworn in, roughly three out of every four will still be men, reports the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University.

The two most recent sessions of Congress (2014-2018) had no women from Pennsylvania represented, but a historic record number of women filed to run for seats in the May 2018 Primary Election (20). Nine women were on the General Election ballot for the U.S. House of Representatives (none for U.S. Senate, where a woman has never served from Pennsylvania), and four, all Democrats, won. While a 400 percent increase in seats held by women is great progress, men will still comprise 80 percent of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation.

“We’ve had so few women serve in Congress from Pennsylvania—never more than two at a time—so to go from sending zero to sending four, that feels like real progress,” said Dr. Dana Brown, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics (PCWP) at Chatham University. “But,” she added, “we shouldn’t let this distract us from how underrepresented women continue to be in politics.”

Similarly, there were a record number of women candidates for the state’s General Assembly in 2018. One hundred thirty-four women candidates were on the General Election ballot and 62 of those women won their contests. As a result, the State Senate will now have 12 women (24 percent), and women in the State House netted 10 additional seats (from 42 to 52, now 26 percent).

Brown is encouraged. “We’re inching closer to a critical mass of women in state legislative office. We know that’s when meaningful change for women can happen. Culture changes. Legislative priorities address the needs of women in a more meaningful way. We need to keep this momentum going,” she said. “At the PCWP, we are proud to report that of the women being sworn into office in Harrisburg and Washington, DC, six are alums of our non-partisan Ready to Run Campaign Training program.” (The six women are: Congresswoman-elect Chrissy Houlahan; State Rep. Mary Jo Daley; State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald; State Rep. Val Gaydos, State Rep. Sara Innamorato; State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky).

The PCWP is committed to supporting the 2018 momentum of women’s candidacies into 2019’s municipal elections. In February, women planning or considering a run for any level of office or those interested in supporting women candidates can participate in one the Center’s two non-partisan Ready to Run™ campaign trainings for women. For more information, visit

The Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics (PCWP) at Chatham University is a non–partisan center devoted to fostering women’s public leadership through education, empowerment, and action. For more information, visit



‘A Really Good Day for Women In Politics’: Women Make History During Midterm Election

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on November 7th, 2018 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Jon Delano

It’s been 98 years since women gained the right to vote in the U.S. Constitution.

But since then women have had a difficult time getting elected to legislative bodies.

This year was different.

“Yesterday was a really good day for women in politics, and from our standpoint, a great day for the Commonwealth and a great day for America to have greater gender diversity,” says Dana Brown, director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University.

For the first time ever, not one, but four, women were elected to Congress from Pennsylvania.

Read more at CBS/KDKA

Election 2018 marked the Year of the Woman in Pennsylvania

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on November 7th, 2018 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Sarah Anne Hughes

The “Year of the Woman” has returned to Pennsylvania.

It happened first in 1992, when a record number of female candidates ran for office and won in reaction to Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court nomination and the Anita Hill hearings. Over the next quarter century, the number of women in Congress and state legislatures continued to grow — but a considerable gender gap has remained.

On Nov. 6, with a record number of women on the ballot, that gap significantly narrowed in Pennsylvania.

The commonwealth will send four Democratic women to Congress next year, all from the Philadelphia suburbs: Madeleine Dean (District 4), Mary Gay Scanlon (District 5), Chrissy Houlahan (District 6), and Susan Wild (District 7).

Never before has Pennsylvania sent that many women to the U.S. House at the same time. There are currently zero women in the state’s congressional delegation.

Numbers don’t get much better in the state General Assembly, where just 49 of the 253 members are women. But representation will improve in both chambers next year.

Five female state senators won re-election, while five female non-incumbents definitively won their races, including Lindsey Williams in Allegheny County. As of Wednesday afternoon, Democratic Rep. Tina Davis was trailing Republican Sen. Tommy Tomlinson by a slim margin in the 6th District.

That means at least 12 women will serve in the Pa. Senate next year, up from seven.

Democratic women weren’t the only ones who made gains in Pennsylvania.

Eight Republican women who aren’t incumbents won state House seats, including three that Democrats hoped to pick up in the Pittsburgh suburbs. Republicans Lori Mizgorski (30th District), Natalie Mihalek (40th District), and Valerie Gaydos (44th District) each bested a female opponent and are now bound for Harrisburg.

And while female Democrats running for House seats in Southwestern Pa. did not win, they fared “pretty darn well” in traditionally Republican areas, according to Jennie Sweet-Cushman, assistant director of Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics.

Read more at The Incline

For first time in 125 years, woman appointed Pennsylvania’s state forester

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on June 12th, 2018 by admin – Be the first to comment
By Daniel Craig

For the first time in more than a century, Pennsylvania has a woman as state forester.

The Bureau of Forestry announced Monday that Ellen M. Shultzabarger has been chosen to lead the state agency. She is the first female to hold the position in the department’s 125-year history.

As state forester, Shultzabarger is tasked with overseeing Pennsylvania’s 2.2 million acres of state forestland, as well as conserving native wild plants and other natural resources.

Shultzabarger, 41, of Lancaster, has worked for the bureau for 14 years in various positions. She most recently served as Chief of Conservation Science and Ecological Resources, and has led a number of projects at the bureau during her tenure, including oil and gas management and handling invasive species.

“I will strive to connect people to the outdoors, manage the state forests entrusted to us, and increase awareness of the importance and benefits of trees and forests,” Shultzabarger said in a news release.

Female representation in Pennsylvania state government is noticeably low compared to the general population, as is the case in many states across the country. Pennsylvania has never had a female governor, and according to Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women & Politics, women make up about 18 percent of the General Assembly.

There are no women representing the commonwealth in the U.S. Congress, and only 21 women in total — two senators and 19 representatives — have been sent to Washington by Pennsylvania voters.


Three Students Attend National Education for Women’s Leadership Conference

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on June 11th, 2018 by admin – Be the first to comment

Three East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania students were selected to attend a program which seeks to help prepare and empower young women to be future leaders in the political process. The students attended the National Education for Women’s (NEW) Leadership Pennsylvania™ institute at the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pa. from June 3 – 8. The NEW program is a six-day, concentrated curriculum for female students attending colleges and universities throughout Pennsylvania. Participants learned about networking, public speaking, the need for women’s leadership in the political process and participated in skills-building workshops.

The ESU students chosen to attend were Shelby Jimcosky, a junior majoring in political science from Scranton, Pa., Asia Morton, a senior majoring in history from Newark, N.J., and Natalia Castillo, a junior majoring in biotechnology from East Stroudsburg, Pa. This year, 43 students were selected to attend from more than 26 colleges and universities across Pennsylvania. Kimberly S. Adams, Ph.D., ESU professor of political science, recruited the students and serves as a faculty liaison between ESU and the NEW Leadership Institute. “I am amazed at how this program continues to educate and inspire young women to be active participants in the political process. It is an incredible opportunity for our students,” Dr. Adams said.