Can you name five women in Pittsburgh – or even in the greater Pennsylvania area – who have had a high-powered role in politics?
It would probably require some effort, according to some recent studies.
On a federal level, only one of the 21 representatives for Pennsylvania is female. A woman has yet to serve as governor or U.S. Senator. Locally, in Allegheny County, four of the 15 council members are women. Of the 85 locally elected officials who govern its boroughs and townships, six are women.
Women account for about half of Pennsylvania’s population, but there are only a handful of female legislators and politicians to reflect that.
Tina Doose, council president of Braddock, is one of the few female politicians in Pittsburgh.
“The good old boys’ club still exists,” Doose said. “And it’s not going away anytime soon, or easily.”
Given the state’s abortion legislation history, it’s fair to wonder what more female representation could do for gendered issues.
In February, this issue was addressed at the annual New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color For Reproductive Justice’s Women of Color HERStory Month Political Luncheon.
Jessica Byrd, political opportunity program assistant at EMILY’s List, an organization which financially backs female democratic candidates, is one of New Voices’ co-founders.
Byrd emphasized the importance of having female candidates, described as “taking our seat at the table.”
“Where are we? Pennsylvania is in the top 20 percent of states with the highest population of women, yet the state’s legislators are refusing to pass legislation to give women the access to contraceptives,” she said, as reported by the New Pittsburgh Courrier. “The power is with us.”
The solution for Byrd is getting women to run for office and getting women involved so that the voices of women are heard.
Photo of Braddock Council President Tina Doose courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.