Women in PA

Women make county history as they take oath of office

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on January 6th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

SUNBURY — Judge Paige Rosini and Commissioner Kymberley Best were sworn in Monday after being the first women elected to their positions in Northumberland County history.

Rosini is a former assistant public defender, and Best, a former county chief clerk.

Best is not the first woman to serve as commissioner, but the first to be elected. Eleanor Kuhns was appointed as commissioner in 1993 to replace the late Charles Lewis.

Rosini and Hugh Jones, the former district judge in Mount Carmel, won the Republican and Democratic nominations for the two vacant 10-year county judge positions in May, making their wins in the Nov. 3 general election basically a formality.

President Judge Charles Saylor, who was sworn into his leadership position Monday, said he was looking forward to working with Rosini and Jones and was proud to welcome Rosini as the first female judge in the county.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve,” Rosini said. “I pledge my time and talents toward the fair and impartial administration of justice.”

Rosini, the daughter of the late Northumberland County Judge and District Attorney James J. Rosini, said she will address each matter with a “fair hearing” and “prompt decisions.”

Jones, who has been the district judge in Mount Carmel since 2009, said he first walked into the courthouse in 1968 as a high school student and returned in 1976 as an employee, but he never realized he would be a county judge.

“It’s been a lifelong dream,” he said.


Rosini has been practicing law since 1995 where she began her legal career with her father. She earned a juris doctor degree from the Dickinson School of Law, Carlisle, and a bachelor of arts degree from Boston College.


Read more at thedailyitem.com

Gender makeup of Allegheny County Council a concern for some

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on January 5th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

Only three women took the oath of office this week as they set out on four-year terms on the Allegheny County Council.

The county’s 15-member, part-time legislative body has two fewer women than its last iteration: Republican Sam DeMarco, 57, of North Fayette, replaces Heather Heidelbaugh for one of council’s two at-large seats and Democrat Paul Klein, 61, of Point Breeze, is taking over the District 11 seat once held by the late Barbara Daly Danko.

“We’re a bit disappointed to see even fewer female faces and experiences on county council,” said Dana Brown, executive director of Pennsylvania Center for Women & Politics at Chatham University. “We want to see more women running in those races.”

Getting women to put themselves on the ballot in the first place, however, is precisely the challenge, said Anne Wakabayashi, executive director of Emerge Pennsylvania, a chapter of a national organization that seeks to identify, encourage and train women to seek, and win, elected office.

“Once women make the decision to run for office, they win at the same rates that men do,” she said.

Out of the 69 county council candidates to appear on both parties’ primary ballots since 2007, only 20 have been women. (Those figures include repeat candidates.)

But a look at recent political history suggests that women fared well in those competitive races. Between 2007 and 2015, women have won six out of nine contests in which they faced a male competitor in either the primary or general elections. (That does not include races with minor-party candidates, or a District 11 special election this November, in which Terri Klein, who is not related to Paul Klein, beat two men to hold the seat for two months.)

In the May 2015 Democratic primary, Denise Ranalli Russell, 48, of Brighton Heights, defeated attorney Daniel Connolly for the District 13 council seat by fewer than 100 votes.

“At first, I was a little shy about it, a little bit leery. … I thought it was going to be an uphill battle,” she said, noting that her opponent had run for office before. She said she listened to the concerns expressed by her constituents. “After speaking with them, I thought, you know, maybe I can make a difference.”

She and Republican Cindy Kirk, 58, of McCandless, in District 2, took oaths at Monday’s regular council meeting. Sue Means, R-Bethel Park, and three existing council members who ran unopposed last year were sworn in at other times Monday or earlier.

Ms. Ranalli Russell replaces Amanda Green-Hawkins, who said having fewer women means less diverse perspective.

“I think this new body will require us as the constituents, particularly the women, to be more vocal, to meet more with our elected officials, to discuss things more, to lobby them more, so that we bring our voices to the table and make sure we’re heard,” Ms. Green-Hawkins said.

Women’s shared experiences have informed policy, Ms. Brown said, noting the recent creation of the City of Pittsburgh’s Office of Early Childhood, sponsored by City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak and the three other members of city council’s women’s caucus. In 2014, that group also created a fund to help child care providers improve their facilities.

“That’s why I think us losing some of those voices — and people of color — is a real detriment,” Ms. Brown said.

Read more at post-gazette.com

Representation by women, blacks on Allegheny County Council to further shrink

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on January 5th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, 10:21 p.m.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/9553058-74/council-women-county#ixzz3wNu8BZLl
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The sliver of Allegheny County Council seats held by women will shrink next year when new council members take office.

The 15-member council, dominated by white men, has five female members and will have two fewer in January.

“I’m concerned,” said Councilwoman Sue Means, R-Bethel Park, the only woman carrying over to the next council. “It’s sad that there’s not a better representation of women on the council. You definitely get a different perspective.”

Nearly 637,800 women live in the county, census data show, making up more than half the population.

Dana Brown, executive director of Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics, said the loss of two women on County Council could be detrimental to public policy. She noted that the four women holding seats on the nine-member Pittsburgh City Council pushed for a mother’s room at the City-County Building, Downtown, for nursing mothers.

“For government for the people by the people, you actually want a government that looks like its people,” Brown said.

Five new County Council members will take seats in January:

• Oakdale Republican Sam DeMarco will replace Councilwoman Heather Heidelbaugh, R-Mt. Lebanon, in an at-large seat;

• Paul Klein, a Point Breeze Democrat, will replace Councilwoman Terri Klein, D-Squirrel Hill, in District 11. The two are not related;

• Cindy Kirk, a McCandless Republican, will replace Councilwoman Jan Rea, also a McCandless Republican, in District 2;

• Denise Ranalli-Russell, a Brighton Heights Democrat, will replace Councilwoman Amanda Green-Hawkins, D-Stanton Heights, in District 13;

• DeWitt Walton, a Hill District Democrat, will replace Councilman Bill Robinson, also a Hill District Democrat, in District 10.

The number of black council members will drop from two to one.

Green-Hawkins and Robinson are council’s only black members. Walton is black; Ranalli-Russell is not.

“I think you have to have more black faces and more black voices at county council,” Robinson said.

Robinson was the only man on council to vote against the controversial decision to drill for natural gas under Deer Lakes Park. No women on council voted for it.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/9553058-74/council-women-county#ixzz3wNuCg000
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Butler County elects first majority of women to board of commissioners

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on November 5th, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, 12:26 a.m.

When Butler County voters elected two female Republicans as county commissioners Tuesday, they made history.

Leslie Osche and Kim Geyer will be the first female majority ever on the three-member board, said Shari Brewer, director of Butler County’s election bureau.

The win is a shining moment for women, who remain a minority in public office in Pennsylvania.

“That is exciting,” said Annette Shimer, president of the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh.

“A lot of this starts at the local level, and we have to get (women) in as commissioners, school board members and municipal government,” she said.

“It’s a great achievement,” said Megan Sweeney, communications director of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania.

“We’re very excited to have a Republican majority,” she said. “We’ve been making an effort to grow and reach out to the women of Pennsylvania to consider running at the state, county and local levels.”

Women have a dismal history of being elected in Pennsylvania.

Up until Tuesday, 38 out of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties did not have women on a county board of commissioners, council or as a county executive, according to Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University in Pittsburgh.

She noted that there has never been a female U.S. senator from the state.

In the state House, about 18 percent of the members are women. That’s slightly less than the 20 percent of women serving at the federal level in Congress.

“Research indicates when women do run, they win at the same rates of men,” Brown said. “We don’t see the gender bias in the ballot booth.”

Read more at triblive.com

New Research by Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics Highlights Gaps in Childcare Access and Policy

Posted in In the News, Press Release, Women in PA on November 5th, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

PITTSBURGH:  The Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics (PCWP) is releasing preliminary findings from a statewide research project (including a survey of Pennsylvania voters) that details inadequacies in childcare policy in the state and voter attitudes toward state policies.

PCWP Assistant Director, Dr. Jennie Sweet-Cushman, will present the preliminary results of the research report and the survey of Pennsylvania voters at Chatham University’s launch of its new Women’s Institute on Saturday, November 7, 2015. The full report, Is This the Care We Need?: An Examination of Childcare Policy in Pennsylvania, will be released in early 2016.

“New parents often lament the looming burden of paying for a child’s college, but the reality is that burden starts much earlier than post-high school. In Pennsylvania, and across the nation, frequently childcare costs more than college tuition,” states Dr. Sweet-Cushman. “ In fact, a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute revealed that childcare costs are likely to exceed the cost of rent for many families, and virtually nowhere in the country is care available near the 10 percent of budget threshold recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Some are even starting to suggest that the high cost of childcare may be a significant factor in the declining numbers of women in the workforce.”

As part of the research study, the Pennsylvania Center for Women & Politics conducted a survey of registered voters Pennsylvania voters that sheds light on a potential disconnect between existing policy on this issue and how voters believe childcare should be provided. Almost 89 percent of those surveyed believed childcare should cost families less than 30 percent of their income, with more than 48 percent believing it should be even more affordable or less than 15 percent. In actuality, the average dual-income family in Pennsylvania pays approximately 12 percent of their income to childcare. However, for the more than one quarter (28 percent) of working mothers who are single mothers, that percentage in Pennsylvania is a whopping 44 percent of their income. Nearly all of our survey respondents would view this as an excessive burden.

“Pennsylvanians across the board do not believe that childcare should be the burden to a family’s budget that it so often is, and we need to consider how we can address this from a public policy standpoint,” Sweet-Cushman said.

The report also describes the need for quality care that meets the needs of their children, accommodates work schedules, and is safe and reasonably priced, but discusses how finding care that meets these criteria can be difficult and can be a significant burden on a family. Parents face issues involving quality, accessibility, availability, and non-traditional schedules when selecting care.

Quality childcare has been linked to school readiness, physical well-being, motor development, social and emotional development, and cognitive and language development. But many programs have limited funding and lengthy waitlists. In February 2014, more than 2600 children were on the wait list for childcare assistance in Pennsylvania. One study found that 86 percent of centers in the state provided mediocre or poor-quality services, while only 14 percent of centers met levels of process quality high enough to support the emotional development of children.

Find out more at Chatham.edu

Wolf Names New Members to the Pennsylvania Commission for Women

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

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced the appointment of twenty-six dedicated business, civic and community leaders to serve on the Pennsylvania Commission for Women. The commissioners were sworn in by Secretary of State Pedro Cortés prior to convening the first meeting of the Commission, which was held at The Governor’s Residence.

“In Pennsylvania today, women earn just 76 cents for every dollar a man earns, they make up 75 percent of our minimum wage workforce, and they are two times less likely to work in STEM occupations than men in the Commonwealth,” Governor Wolf said. “These are just a few of the issues that I hope this Commission will look at improving over the course of their work.

“I know that this passionate group of leaders and professionals will act as tireless advocates on behalf of Pennsylvania’s women and girls. Each of these individuals will be a tremendous asset to the Commission, and people across the Commonwealth will be well-served by their commitment to improving the lives of our women and girls.”

“Having devoted my career to meeting the needs of women and families in my own community, I am humbled and excited by this opportunity to lead an extraordinary group of women in this endeavor statewide,” Commission Chair Randi Teplitz said. “I am grateful for the confidence that Governor Wolf has placed in me, and I look forward to working with him, First Lady Frances Wolf, and stakeholders in the public and private sectors on this important effort.”

The Commission for Women, which was created by Executive Order and consists of volunteer members, is responsible for advising the Governor on policies and legislation that impact women; supporting economic and civic opportunities for women; encouraging mentoring programs for girls and young women; identifying programs and opportunities for the benefit and advancement of women; and serving as a resource center for Pennsylvania women. The Commission also acts as an advocate for policies and legislation it feels serves the best interest of women and girls in Pennsylvania.

Below is a full list of the individuals that have been appointed as members of the Pennsylvania Commission for Women:

Randi Teplitz, Chair, Dauphin County
Susan Jacobson, Southeast Regional Coordinator, Philadelphia County
Nancy Mills, Southwest Regional Coordinator, Allegheny County
Anne Ard, Centre County
Donna Barbetti, Lackawanna County
Dana Brown, Allegheny County
Jessica Brubaker, York County
ImJa Choi, Philadelphia County
Representative Madeleine Dean, Montgomery County
Lucy Delabar, Lehigh County
Carolina Digiorgio, Chester County
Denise Johnson, Crawford County
Jazelle Jones, Philadelphia County
Susan Kefover, Potter County
Mellanie Lassiter, Philadelphia County
Evie McNulty, Lackawanna County
Leslie Anne Miller, Delaware County
Deborah Minkoff, Montgomery County
Tina Nixon, Dauphin County
Lori Nocito, Luzerne County
Lesley Ridge, Erie County
Kathy Rooney, Lehigh County
Jessica Rothchild, Lackawanna County
Patti Stirk, York County
Rosa Stroh, Dauphin County
Michelle Zmijanac, Allegheny County

For more information on the Commission for Women, contact women@pa.gov or 717.831.3224.

What Our Towns Pay: Only one woman ranks among the top 100 in pay

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on August 20th, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Liam Migdail-Smith  

All but one of the 100 local municipal employees who earned six figures in 2014 were men. Reading Managing Director Carole Snyder was the only woman to make the top 100. 

“I’m not surprised by that because it reflects what goes on in the corporate world too,” said Jennie Sweet-Cushman, assistant director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University.


The trend is that women hold most middle-management positions but are under-represented in top jobs, she said. Having more women at the helm in public administration adds a different perspective.


“If you’re dealing with community decisions you think in terms of: How does this accommodate women with young children? How does this accommodate people caring for elderly relatives?” Sweet-Cushman said.


Contributing to the gap locally: 90 of the top 100 municipal earners worked for police departments.


A 2014 survey by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics found that nationally, women make up only 12.4 of patrol officers, 15.9 percent of supervising officers and 21 percent of criminal investigators.


Nationally, there has been a focus on the gender skew in police forces as advocates look to close the pay gap between men and women.


A 2012 report by the White House’s Equal Pay Task Force identified occupational segregation — a system of “men’s jobs” that pay more than “women’s jobs” — as a major driver of pay differences.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the Pennsylvania State Police, alleging its fitness test is skewed in favor of male applicants. The state is fighting the suit, saying its test is not biased and that the claims are based on faulty logic.

Research by the National Center for Women & Policing, which advocates for more women in law enforcement, found that gender-biased recruiting and hiring practices contribute to the underrepresentation of women. Efforts to recruit women often are stymied by harassment or discrimination female officers can face, the group says.

Read more at readingeagle.com

Kane scandal casts cloud on other female politicians:’It’s such a blow to women’

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on August 20th, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

The criminal charges against Kathleen Kane are unlikely to stall the success of other women candidates, but it does hurt, politicians say.

“I hate to see public officials do things that violate the public trust because it looks bad for everyone. Bonusgate affected all of us, even though it was all men. We were all affected equally,” said Bev Mackereth, a former House Republican from York County and previous Department of Human Services secretary.

She is now a senior government affairs specialist for the Ridge Policy Group.

Sen. Pat Vance, R-Cumberland, is hoping Mackereth is right and Kane’s crisis doesn’t specifically reflect poorly on women.

“I felt very badly when she was charged, even though we’re not in the same political party, because it’s such a blow to women,” she said.

While Vance, who has held elected office for nearly 40 years, said the quality of a candidate matters more than gender, she agreed that men in politics often are viewed differently than women.

“Maybe because there are so few of us,” Vance said.

“There are a lot of very good people in public service. Unfortunately, the good ones don’t always make headlines,” she added.

If there’s an unfair spotlight on women in politics, it could be because there are so few women in politics – especially in Pennsylvania, according to Dana Brown, executive director at the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics.

The state has never sent a woman to represent Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate, and there are no women among the 20 people who represent the state in the congressional delegation.

Just 45 women sit among the 253 elected officials in the state Legislature, though 52 percent of the voters are women.

The state has never elected a woman governor, and the late Catherine Baker Knollwas the only woman to serve as lieutenant governor.

Kane is the only woman who holds a statewide elected office, other than judges.

For the Pennsylvania attorney general to rebound from this political scandal, she has to first avoid conviction, said Kelly Dittmar, a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics and assistant professor of political science at Rutgers University – Camden.

“Politics is still a man’s world. Breaking through is not easy for women, especially when a scandal hurts a woman’s stereotypical advantage,” she said.

That advantage is trust and integrity. Women candidates are assumed to be more trustworthy than men, and voters think twice when that trust is broken.

Research shows ethics and likability matter more for women than men, according to Dittmar.


Read more at pennlive.com

Women finding success in statewide judge votes

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on April 14th, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

April 12, 2015 12:00 AM

By Chris Potter/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


There are 24 judges sitting on the state Superior Court and Commonwealth Court: 17 of them are women. And depending on the outcome of this year’s Supreme Court race, women could end up holding a majority of elected judgeships on all three statewide appeal courts.

What does that mean for the political status of women in Pennsylvania, where they have a notoriously hard time winning elected office?

“I think it means maybe I should run for Superior Court judge,” said Susan Frietsche, a lawyer with the Women’s Law Project.

Observers cite several reasons for why women have had so much success in such contests. For starters, there’s a steady supply of candidates: Women have made up a majority of law-school graduates since the early 1990s, noted Heather Arnet, who heads the Women and Girls Project.

Judicial candidates also rarely have to overcome the advantages of incumbency, like superior name recognition and fundraising, that officeholders enjoy in other branches of government. (Once elected, incumbent judges only have to run for retention — a straight-up-or-down vote — every 10 years, until they retire or are removed.)

“Female candidates do well in open races, where they aren’t competing against traditional party support,” said Ms. Arnet.

But even in judicial races, that’s more true in some cases than others.

“Pennsylvanians will tell you that women do well in judicial races, but it’s really only on those intermediate statewide courts,” said Dana Brown, executive director of Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics.

Women do much worse when running at the county level, she said: Once those seats are considered, women hold just over one in four seats on the Pennsylvania bench — barely an improvement over the legislature, where one in five officeholders are female.

“There’s something unique happening on the statewide level,” Ms. Brown said. “It’s really a puzzle.”

Read more at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Run, she said: Cokie Roberts on the dearth of women in politics

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

Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics did Pittsburghers a favor Wednesday by bringing to the city author and journalist Cokie Roberts.

Ms. Roberts — formally Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs Roberts (her brother couldn’t pronounce “Corinne,” so she became “Cokie”) — is a senior news analyst for National Public Radio and the author or co-author of five books. From Louisiana, Ms. Roberts’ family was American political royalty. Her father, Hale Boggs, was a U.S. House majority leader and her mother, Lindy Boggs, was a House member for 18 years and U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

Her topic in a speech was consistent with a goal of the organization that invited her to Pittsburgh, that the United States would benefit from greater participation by women in elected political life at the national, state and local levels. Ms. Roberts quoted Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who said that body “is so much better because of women … they have changed the dynamic of the Senate.” Although women now occupy 20 of the seats in the 100-person chamber, that’s still a small percentage since they make up half the population.

Ms. Roberts noted that Pennsylvania’s record is particularly weak. The state has a 20-member congressional delegation — two senators, 18 House members and none of them female. “Run,” she urged women in the audience.

Read More at the Post-Gazette.com