Experts: There may be a positive in the backlash to the Donald Trump video

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on October 12th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

They are surely some of the most uncouth comments from a presidential candidate to be aired publicly.

But experts say there may be one positive in the backlash and condemnation that have arisen following the release of a 2005 video in which Donald Trump brags about kissing and groping women: an increased awareness of sexual assault.

The topic has dominated media coverage for several days and spawned more than a million anecdotes on social media in which women share their own stories of groping and sexual assault.

“It is an educational moment,” said Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University. “It is sending a positive message to women and girls that sexual assault is unacceptable, and that talking or bragging about it is unacceptable, and that is a move in the right direction.”

Mr. Trump and campaign surrogates have downplayed the comments as “locker-room banter” that did not reflect his actual behavior, and have questioned their characterization as assault.

Sexual assault is a topic that has played an unexpectedly large role in this presidential campaign, from Mr. Trump appearing with those who have accused former President Bill Clinton of non-consensual sex, to the 2005 videotape in which Mr. Trump boasts that “When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything” in reference to kissing women and grabbing their genitals without warning.

“He has certainly ignited a conversation about sexual advances on women,” said Ms. Brown of Mr. Trump’s comments. “He’s saying that it’s just words, but actually those words are quite powerful. We want to make sure our students will have an opportunity for discussion. Our hope is that some student-athletes might speak out about locker-room talk, that this is not reflective.”

Heather Arnet, CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation, found a silver lining in an “uncomfortable” yet productive conversation she had with her 14-year-old son in showing him the video prior to him watching the debate. “If this horrible video can inspire more parents to have conversations with their young sons about how they can treat women with respect, that is a positive outcome,” she said.

Mr. Trump’s comments launched powerful reaction on social media, noted anupama jain, an adjunct professor in the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies program at the University of Pittsburgh.

On Friday, Canadian author Kelly Oxford asked women to share their personal tales of sexual assaults, using the hashtag #notokay on Twitter, drawing nearly 30 million responses as of Monday afternoon and widespread media attention.


Ruth Ann Dailey: The mixed messages in Kane’s crash

Posted in In the News on August 22nd, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

Ladies, can we talk?

This is embarrassing. At least I think it is — unless it’s good news, in a twisted kind of way.

Former state Attorney General Kathleen Kane resigned last week, after being found guilty on two felony counts of perjury and seven misdemeanor counts of abusing the power of her office.

Just four weeks ago, federal prosecutors indicted former state treasurer Barbara Hafer for allegedly misleading the FBI and IRS in their investigation of a pay-to-play scheme.

And then there’s the long-running saga of the Orie sisters.

What gives? This glorious commonwealth can’t boast of many female pols — our Legislature, for instance, ranks 39th in the nation — and an outsize percentage of the few we’ve got seem to have mastered the crash-and-burn.

Or maybe it just feels that way, given the years of juicy-details, look-at-that-nail-polish commentary.

In a state “with an incestuous, dysfunctional political system” (per Esquire magazine), “where corruption in politics is as common as the housefly” (per The New York Times), how bad is this scandal roll call for us gals?

I turned to an expert for enlightenment — and encouragement.

“There are so few women [in politics] that we pin all our hopes and dreams on the ones who are out there,” said Dana Brown, executive director of Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics.

Well, I can’t lay claim to “hopes and dreams,” but I’ll admit to mixed feelings. I mostly deplore identity politics. Philosophy and character matter far more than gender or race.

But I recognize it helps us as citizens to see people from whatever groups we identify with participating in representative democracy — and doing it well.


“While it’s really unfortunate to have anyone make a bad choice on behalf of the commonwealth, there are also many men who make these bad choices,” Ms. Brown said, launching into a long list: Mike Veon, Bill DeWeese, Rob McCord, etc. …

“We don’t ever ask ourselves, ‘How does this reflect on all men?’

“It seems [the Kane scandal] might say more about the political system as a whole than it says about women in Pennsylvania politics.”


Labor Department gives Pa. grant to study family programs

Posted in In the News on August 17th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded a $250,000 grant to Pennsylvania to help develop a family leave program.

The state is one of several recipients of grants from a $1.1 million pool. Hawaii, Indiana, Franklin County, Ohio, and the cities of Madison, Wisc., Denver, Colo. also got grants.

The grant is meant to “assist in planning and jump-starting a paid family leave program to ensure all Pennsylvania workers have access to paid time off to care for a new child or a seriously ill family member,” according to a Department of Labor release issued today.

The funds can be used to design the program and define eligibility, as well as for research and analysis of the program.

A stakeholder advisory group will be convened under the grant, according to the release.

Read the Center’s report “FMLA in PA: A Report on Family and Medical Leave in the State”

Political glass ceiling for women still intact in Pennsylvania

Posted in In the News on August 17th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

HARRISBURG — While Hillary Clinton described her nomination for president at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia as “shattering a glass ceiling” for women and girls, Pennsylvania’s gender ceiling still appears to be very much intact.

Pennsylvania is ranked 40th in the country for female representation in government, with women representing 18.6 percent of the state Legislature, according to the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University.

No woman has ever sat at the governor’s desk or represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate, and no women currently represent the state in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Dana Brown, the executive director of the center, said the trend of unequal representation isn’t likely to change soon.

“We see it as a plateau that will probably continue to hang around 18 and 19 percent,” she said.

This election cycle, six candidates will look to carry the flag for Pennsylvania’s women. Five women are running for five of the state’s 18 seats in the U.S. House and one woman, Katie McGinty, is running for U.S. Senate.

“We would argue that it is not just important for women to have a woman in an elected office; it’s more important for the commonwealth,” Ms. Brown said.

“We know that when women are at the table, they are more likely to reach across the aisle and increase bipartisanship and increase transparency,” she added.

There are also language differences between female and male legislators, she said. Women “talk about bills differently and more collaboratively.”

Research shows that women in Congress are better than men at getting more money and more projects back to their districts and that women in the state Legislature are more responsive to their constituents, Ms. Brown said.

As voters move farther down the ballot, they will see more female candidates running for the state Legislature. However, in comparison with the number of men running, fewer females are taking the gamble of running for office.

In total, 70 women are running against nearly 350 men for 228 seats in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. These numbers reflect candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties.

Sixty-seven women are running for 203 seats in the House. Of those running, 34 already hold office in a General Assembly dominated by male voices.

When voters look to the Senate, they will find fewer women. Nine of 50 members are female and only three women are running for the 25 seats on the ballot this year. Two are incumbents.

Research shows that strong political parties and incumbency advantage are causes of the disparity, Ms. Brown said.

“Men often hold onto power and pass on power to other men,” she said. “It’s not in any mean, purposeful way; it’s just these homogenized networks.”

Members of parties are required to support incumbents, making it harder for women and minorities to break in to the party network. Women often aren’t interested in running in challenging races, either, Ms. Brown said.

The Legislature’s status as a full-time, year-round body may play a part, too, she said. More women can be found in volunteer legislatures, like Vermont’s, which is made up of 40 percent women.


Could breaking the glass ceiling lead to the glass cliff for female leadership?

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on August 2nd, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Lindsay Moore / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


After decades in politics, Hillary Clinton is asking for a promotion. Once again, she is competing for the title of commander in chief, but this year she has made it to the final interview.

Should she win, she would be the first female president of the United States, a point her campaign has worked tirelessly to drive home. After last Tuesday’s formal nomination, Ms. Clinton addressed the crowd at the Democratic National Convention in a video message saying, “I can’t believe we just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet.”

This crack in the glass ceiling leaves her in uncharted territory. If Ms. Clinton were to win the presidency she would enter the Oval Office in a nation sharply divided by race, religion and political affiliation. Some political observers have suggested this could make her a scapegoat teetering over the edge of a glass cliff, like some of her fellow female leaders, but others see it as laying the groundwork for her to be a trailblazing pioneer.

The term glass cliff was coined in 2004 by British professors Michelle K. Ryan and Alexander Haslam from the University of Exeter. The theory is simple — women are more likely to be put into leadership roles in turbulent times. Examples include Marissa Mayer taking over as CEO for Yahoo during a time of falling web traffic and ad revenue, or Theresa May becoming the prime minister after Britain voted to leave the European Union and potential male candidates for the position walked away.

Given that there are so few women in top positions of power, Mr. Haslam said this small sample size makes it difficult to study the glass cliff phenomena. Some examples, like Ms. May, are more explicit than others. The Brexit aftermath showed the world how men sometimes back away in times of crisis, he said, in this case leaving only Ms. May and Andrea Leadsom to step up to the task of prime minister of the United Kingdom.

These glass cliff opportunities are often pushed onto women as a chance to prove themselves, Mr. Haslam said. This doesn’t happen for men because men are offered more opportunities to excel and can therefore be picky when choosing which to take on.

In the case of Ms. Clinton, Mr. Haslam said that the glass cliff theory applied more explicitly to her 2008 campaign than to this year’s presidential election and Ms. Clinton’s historic role in it.

Having a woman and an African American as the major Democratic candidates during a campaign taking place in the midst of the Wall Street financial crisis made them easier potential scapegoats. Barack Obama and Ms. Clinton both faced challenges in carrying the burden of being a role model for people of color and women respectively while taking on daunting challenges.

The 2016 election, however, is different in that there are not imminent threats or a new crisis unfolding. This does not eliminate the gendered politics that surround Ms. Clinton’s campaign, potential presidency or entire political career leading up to her nomination, Mr. Haslam said.

“The glass cliff is relevant to the big Hillary narrative, but maybe not right now,” Mr. Haslam said.

Rather than representing a glass cliff, this change in the political landscape can be used as a launching pad for women in power, Dana Brown, political science professor at Chatham University and executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics said.

“They’re that physical embodiment of change,” Ms. Brown said. “[Voters are] looking for something that’s different from the ‘norm,’ and for so long politics looked like white men, typically heterosexual, so people are looking for something new.”


We spent decades dreaming up the perfect female president. She doesn’t exist.

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on July 25th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

 July 22 

In the summer before 1992’s presidential election, the toy company Mattel, which had given Barbie a series of historically masculine professions — astronaut in 1965, surgeon in 1973 — decided to award its famous doll a new role: presidential candidate. Candidate Barbie wore a ball gown. The dress had a silver bustier and a star-spangled skirt, and its wearer’s platinum-blond hair fell in waves to her waist. It was an outfit entirely inappropriate for the campaign trail, but then again, it was Barbie.

That, incidentally, was in the middle of the “Year of the Woman,” in which an unprecedented five women were elected to the U.S. Senate. The country was trying to figure out what the first female American president should look like and symbolize. It still is. We still are.

We still are, even as we’ve gotten closer than ever before to that milestone, even as a woman is about to be nominated by a major political party for the first time and the cautious, heartful hope felt by some people is balanced by the outright hatred of others.

When I posed the question, school-assignment-like (What would it mean to you to have a female president?) to a thousand-odd friends on Facebook, the responses came back perfunctorily and practiced, as if never-ending election coverage had taught everyone how to talk in sound bites: the momentousness, the symbolism, the importance of not voting for any candidate, male or female, because of gender. Repeatedly, people said they’d like to elect the first female president if for no other reason than they were tired of endlessly talking about what it would mean. We’re over it, they said. Even before the moment has happened, we’re over it.

But are we?

Think of the Night of Terror in 1917, in which 33 women protesting outside the White House were arrested and beaten, dragged to jail and kept there for the crime of thinking that women should have the right to vote. One of them, after watching her cellmate’s head bashed against a metal bedframe, had a heart attack. Or think of Jeannette Rankin, the first female member of Congress, elected in 1916, when American women in many states couldn’t have cast a ballot for her. Or of Abigail Adams, in 1776, urging her husband to “remember the ladies,” aware with each quill stroke that a woman’s only hope at the time was the compassion of a man.

“I remember, in third or fourth grade, Michael Dukakis and George [H.W.] Bush were running, and my class had a mock election,” says Dana Brown, the executive director of Pennsylvania’s Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University. “And it became really crystallized. The boys were the ones who wanted to participate. I was the only girl who decided I wanted to be president. It was me versus a kid named Mike.” (Mike won).

That’s one moment from Brown’s life. Here’s another, 30 years later:

“My 8-year-old niece recently asked my sister-in-law whether girls can be presidents,” Brown says. The mother said they could, of course, and then wondered aloud why her daughter was asking. The girl pointed to the pictures on the back of her history textbook; she’d noticed that all the presidents marching across the jacket were boys.

When people talk about gender equality in politics, they often point to this idea: It’s not the first female president who matters, but all the ones who come after her. Generations of girls need to see by example that women can be presidents so that they can aspire to be presidents themselves. A man, a white man at least, might not understand what it is to enter a room and feel his eyes scramble for purchase until they land on another person who looks like him. But all women know this feeling, the comfort of another treble voice, the possibility of a similar perspective, the prospect of a borrowed tampon. It matters if the room is the Oval Office.

For decades, women have been trying to get into this room: Shirley Chisholm, Geraldine Ferraro, Sarah Palin, Carly Fiorina. With each opportunity, the stakes are a little higher. If the first female president had been elected in 1796, on the heels of George Washington, she could have been just another candidate, with a bad temper or a wandering eye or whatever human frailty we’ve grown to accept in the leaders of the Free World.

Read more at the

What RNC speakers reveal about the GOP

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on July 21st, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

CLEVELAND — Among the refrains during Monday night’s convention speeches was that “All lives matter.” But as has been true for much of Donald Trump’s campaign, there was special attention paid to the lives of men.

Of the 27 speakers on Monday night, 20 were men. Of the women, four were grieving the loss of a son or brother, either at the hands of illegal immigrants or during the Benghazi attacks.

Supporters and pundits say that with terrorist attacks and police shootings in the headlines, the Trump campaign’s focus on the night’s theme — Making America Safe Again — may help boost Mr. Trump’s support among women. Still, Monday’s focus did not go unnoticed.

“Security has long been associated with masculinity, which Trump has made a cornerstone of his campaign,” said Dana Brown, the executive director of Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics. And she said Monday night’s focus on male victims tied into a broader narrative.

“Based on the Trump campaign’s rhetoric, they believe that men, especially white men, have been left out in this new, changing economy.”

Indeed, Mr. Trump’s discussions of the economy focuses most heavily on economic sectors, like manufacturing and mining, where men predominate.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up just under 47 percent of the total workforce. But they make up just 5 percent of mining jobs, among the lowest concentrations of the economy. Their share of manufacturing jobs is under 30 percent, and within that sector they are concentrated most heavily in industries like apparel and baking. In steelmaking, they hold just 11 percent of jobs.

“His comfort zone is around issues that best align with white, male voters,” said Christopher Borick, a political science professor and pollster at Muhlenburg College. “His outreach to women voters is less clear and not as comfortable.”

Mr. Trump has stumbled on issues like abortion rights. Though formerly pro-choice, he claims to have “evolved” on the issue: In March, he said that if abortion was illegal, women who sought one could face “Some form of punishment.” He later walked back that position, which is harsher than many anti-abortion activists espouse.

But while Mr. Trump has been plagued by a “gender gap” in polls pitting him against Democrat Hillary Clinton, the gap may be shrinking. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll showed Mr. Trump drawing even with Ms. Clinton among college-educated women: Ms. Clinton previously led by 22 among that group. A Quinnipiac University poll of Pennsylvania voters this month found a similar trend, with Ms. Clinton’s edge among women there dropping from 16 points to just 4.

Read more at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Issues trump gender for women voters

Posted in In the News on July 14th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Emma Ginader

Republican women in the Central Susquehanna Valley are sticking with Donald Trump despite Hillary Clinton beating the business mogul in popularity with women 59 percent to 35 percent in the latest Pew Research Center poll.

“Many women are thoughtful, deliberate voters who understand that qualifications and character matter more than a shared gender,” said Union County Republican Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Conner. “They realize Hillary Clinton has used gender politics and attacks on conservatives’ so-called ‘war on women’ as a smoke screen to hide from the left’s failure to protect women of all ages and ethnicities.”

She said Clinton has failed both women and men because of her pro-choice stance and her role in Benghazi.

“Women will not vote for gender. Women will vote for values,” said Irene C. Harris, president of the SUN Area Council of Republican Women.

Dr. Dana Brown, director of the nonpartisan Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, agrees with Harris that issues and political parties will always beat out gender.

“Women are not a monolithic voting block,” she said. “Party identification will trump gender too.”

However, Brown confirms there is a divide in policy between Republican and Democratic women. She said women tend to fall along party lines.

She said more women who identified as feminist and as Democrats tended to also support enacting more gun control measures as well as protecting abortion rights.

For Republican women, the issues of national and economic security “tend to rise to the top. It’s the same as the men voting for Trump.”

Brown said this is why Republican women might overlook Trump’s statements that Democratic women perceive as sexist.

However, not every Republican woman in the Valley is willing to follow party lines. Rae Kurland, former chairwoman of the Montour County Republican Committee, believes Trump “is unreliable and dangerous.”

Read more at The Daily Item

Meet the Philly women who want to make more women stars in politics

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

by Claudia Vargas, Staff Writer

In 2010, Kerri Kennedy was training women in Afghanistan to run for office when she noticed a stark statistic. That year, 28 percent of elected officials in Afghanistan were women, while in the United States, women held just 17 percent of such positions.

A friend told her that while the work Kennedy did was commendable, she could have a bigger impact helping women in her own country get elected.

“She said, ‘You’re not walking the talk,’ ” Kennedy recalled.

Six years later, Kennedy is one of more than a dozen Philadelphia women who run Represent!, a political action committee focused on electing Democratic women to state and federal office. The committee’s federal arm has raised $94,000 and given $175,000 to campaigns since last year. The state arm has raised $50,400 this election cycle and $89,000 since it became active in 2014.

At a time when millions are flowing to political campaigns, the dollars raised and donated by Represent! seem modest. But the group is hoping to gain momentum as the Democratic National Convention, July 25 to 28, nears and Hillary Clinton is poised to make history as the first female presidential candidate of a major U.S. party.

“It’s the right time for an organization like ours,” said Kennedy, 41, who in her day job is an executive for a nonprofit. (She is not related to those Kennedys.)

In late June, Represent! achieved “multicandidate” PAC status at the federal level, which means the group has supported at least five federal candidates and has more than 50 individual donors. That status allows a PAC to receive up to $5,000 from an individual a year, nearly double the usual $2,700 limit for individual donors.

“We are able to give a lot more money to the campaigns,” said Aubrey Montgomery, 32, one of the cofounders.

The women behind Represent! are trying to distinguish themselves from other female-focused PACs, such as EMILY’S List, the national group that backs female candidates who support abortion rights, and one that many women, including Represent! board members, have supported over the years.

On the Republican side, too, a PAC called Women Lead is trying to elect women, and the Anne B. Anstine Series, based in Pennsylvania and named for the woman who once led the state GOP, is a workshop that helps train women going into politics. Both groups were founded by Christine J. Toretti, a Republican National Committee member.



MPR News with Kerri Miller: Women in Politics

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on May 16th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

Listen to Dr. Dana Brown, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics on Minnesota Public Radio.