October Workshop Encourages Women to Run for Office

Aug 12, 2016

Research shows that women who hold public office build consensus and are more connected to their constituents than their male counterparts, according to Jean Wahl Harris, Ph.D., professor of political science at The University of Scranton. Dr. Harris also noted that women are strikingly underrepresented in local, state and national government and Pennsylvania has one of the lowest proportions of women holding public office. With an 18 percent representation in the state legislature, the keystone state ranks 40th out of 50 states. States with even lower female representation than Pennsylvania are Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee.

In response to these statistics, Ready to Run® Northeastern Pennsylvania, in partnership with the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University, will offer nonpartisan targeted training to women who want to run for office or get involved with public life.

The daylong workshop, “Wanted: More Women Candidates,” will be held Saturday, Oct. 8, at The University of Scranton.

“This event is about empowerment,” said Dr. Harris. “You can’t be elected if you don’t run. Even well qualified women are hesitant to run, unless they are encouraged.”

Dr. Harris emphasized that women offer a lot more to government than just narrowing the the gender gap in representation.

“Women have different priorities than men,” Dr. Harris said. “Generally speaking, while men see government as a career, women enter politics to address specific areas of concern. They tend to focus on issues that affect women, children, and disadvantaged people.”

According to Dr. Harris, research shows that even though this is still a man’s world in terms of power, businesses with greater proportions of women in leadership positions are generally more successful. CAWP asserts that women have gained experience working with people who have different opinions – a valuable skill for reaching across the boardroom, as well as the political aisle.

“It isn’t a stretch to conclude that a government body with a higher proportion of women would be more successful advocating the interest of its constituents,” said Dr. Harris. “More women in government is a win-win situation for women and those they represent,” she added.

For additional information about the workshop visit scranton.edu/readytorun.


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