October 8 Program Prepares Women to Enter Politics

Sep 9, 2016

Women in Northeast Pennsylvania and surrounding counties who want to run for office or get involved with public service now have a place to turn for campaign training. A workshop, “Wanted: More Women Candidates,” will be held on Saturday, Oct. 8, at The University of Scranton.

Workshop participants will learn from prominent leaders, campaign consultants and others.  Topics to be covered include: qualifications for public office, how to be a credible and viable candidate, message training and campaign finances. Keynote speaker, Jean Wahl Harris, Ph.D., professor of the Political Science Department at the University, will present “Women, Elections and a Healthy Democracy.” According to Dr. Harris, research shows that political women change the public policy agenda and the way government works. “Women make our democracy more inclusive and more responsive to the concerns of all citizens,” she said.

Yet women are underrepresented at all levels of government. According to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University, states vary in terms of the number of women in political office and Pennsylvania does not rank well. The Keystone state ranks 40th with only 18 percent of legislative seats held by women. It’s even worse on the national level.  No Pennsylvania women serve in the U.S. Congress, a group comprised of two senators and 18 house representatives. Although women are 51 percent of the U.S. population, they comprise only 19 percent of the 535 seats in the U.S. Congress. Only six women serve as governor in the 50 states.

“In order to form a more perfect union – a healthier and more effective representative democracy (government of, by, and for the people) – we need more women in public office,” said Dr. Harris. “Women pubic official work to make government more transparent to their constituents and more accessible to the diversity of people, voices and concerns in their communities.”

The upcoming nonpartisan workshop offered by Ready to Run® Northeast Pennsylvania, in collaboration with CAWP, answers this challenge by encouraging women to run for office and preparing them with valuable training in the elements of a campaign. The workshop fee is $50 ($15 for student with school ID) and includes breakfast and lunch. Scholarships are available.

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

Ready to Run® Northeast Pennsylvania works to increase the number of women serving in political office by providing campaign training for women. A workshop, “Wanted: More Women Candidates,” will be held on Saturday, Oct. 8, at The University of Scranton. The steering committee members align themselves with the ongoing struggle for political equality for women that began in 1848 at Seneca Falls, the site of the first women’s rights convention. The early suffragists wore white with purple sashes during their fight for the right to vote. That fight took 80 years.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the first woman elected to the national government in her own right (1916, Jeanette Rankin elected to US House of Representatives for Montana), and 96 years after women citizens won the right to vote throughout the nation (19th Amendment, 1920). The struggle to bring women and their voices into public policy making continues since women hold only 19.4 percent of the seats in the U.S. Congress. Pennsylvania’s legislature is only 18.6 percent female. Committee members, from left, are: Stephanie Bressler, Ph.D.; Justine Johnson, director of the Cross Cultural Centers at Scranton; Jean Wahl Harris, Ph.D., professor of political science at Scranton; Annette Palutis; and Jan Kelly, Ph.D., professor emeritus of communication at Scranton.

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