Today newly elected legislators traveled to Harrisburg to be sworn in and begin their term representing Pennsylvania. We welcome our new legislators and look forward to working with them, but we also want to point out a startling observation: of the 253 members in the General Assembly, only 42 are female. Despite the 5 more women elected to the General Assembly in 2010, Pennsylvania consistently ranks in the bottom 10 of female representation among state legislatures. It is also of note that Pennsylvania has never had a female Governor.
Nationally, Pennsylvania also lacks female representation as there is only one woman serving in Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation. No woman from Pennsylvania has ever been elected Senator.
While it is unclear why so few Pennsylvania women hold legislative office, many speculate that it stems from issues as varied as difficulties in raising the necessary funds to child care concerns to a lack of role models in the legislature for young girls. No matter the cause it is clear that for a legislature to be reflective of the people they serve, more women need to run for office. It is critical that women’s voices be heard in all debates, and particularly around those like paycheck fairness, paid sick days, and other issues that disproportionately affect women.
If you are a women considering running for office or if you know of a women that you think would make a great candidate, please visit She Should Run, an online nomination tool and resource center that asks women to consider running for public office.