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Host: Scott LaMar

Why aren't more women elected in PA?

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, WITF's Smart Talk | Jan 8, 2018 8:00 PM
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On the Tuesday January 9th, 2018 edition of WITF's Smart Talk:

Of the 253 seats in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, only 45 are held by women.  Pennsylvania ranks 49th in the nation in placing female representatives in elected office, ahead of Mississippi.  In the history of the Commonwealth, there have only been seven women elected to executive positions.  The United States ranks 100th globally. 

Research by the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University found the women in the General Assembly pass legislation and find co-sponsors for their bills at a higher rate than male legislators.  The report characterized the female delegation in Harrisburg as "few, but mighty."

On Tuesday's Smart Talk, we'll discuss the findings of the PCWP study with Dana Brown, executive director of the center and explore ways to encourage political engagement and participation by women in all demographics, locally and nationally.  Also joining us are Democratic Rep. Patty Kim, who represents Harrisburg and parts of Dauphin County and Republican Rep. Sheryl Delozier of Cumberland County in the State House of Representatives.

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Rep. Patty Kim, who represents Harrisburg and parts of Dauphin County and Rep. Sheryl Delozier of Cumberland County in the State House of Representatives

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- I'd like to add to the conversation that I believe organized religion also has a lot to do with why Pennsylvania has fallen behind in electing women to politics. I personally know of women that participate in denominations that still believe a woman's "place" is to support her husband, figuratively standing "behind" the male in the family. This becomes a cycle to the children in the family and so on and so forth. I don't know how this compares to other states, but I do feel that Pennsylvania has strong organized religious ties that promote this belief.   - Emma

- Frequently, I think, if finances were equal amongst men and women, more women would consider running however women cannot pass laws to equalize income and opportunities unless they are in government.

I think women of lesser means cannot see a way to finance running for office while caring for a family and we need the women of greater means to run for office.

Women of lesser means have more needs that might inspire them to run for office, but the fear of financial failure and disaster is much greater. It seems to cost a lot to run for office and there is no promise you will win.

Women also have more free time and greater resources as they age; in PA our population is aging and it would be great if the baby boomer generation of women would run for office. The down side of being an older woman, however, is that older women are historically perceived as less attractive than their male counterparts; this is a factor because, despite societies efforts to resist the urge, a segment of our population determines who they vote for by how people look.                                                                             - anon

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