Pennsylvania has 18 congressional seats, and a woman doesn't sit in any of them.
That is about to change Nov. 6 in the midterm elections, and southeastern Pennsylvania could provide the scene for a historic overhaul of the state's representation in Congress.
Women are on the ballots as one of the two major party candidates in seven of the 18 races. In the fifth congressional district that will represent Delaware County and parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia, Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon and Republican Pearl Kim are facing off, meaning that a woman is all but guaranteed to hold a seat.
In three other races — all in the Philadelphia region — women candidates have been running as the favorites: state Rep. Madeleine Dean in the fourth District to represent Montgomery County, Chrissy Houlahan in the sixth district to represent Chester County, and Susan Wild in the Lehigh Valley's seventh district. They are facing Republicans Dan David, Greg McCauley and Marty Nothstein, respectively.
"In 2018, we have a record number of women running and winning nominations for office across all levels," Rutgers University professor Kelly Dittmar said.
Dittmar, who recently co-authored a book on women in politics called "A Seat at the Table," said the momentum must continue beyond the election Nov. 6.
"We have to continue this work. We have to sustain this energy to make a strong case for voters to look to, recruit and support women candidates," she said.
In a state with such a poor track record of electing women to higher office — there has never been a women in the governor's office or representing the state in the U.S. Senate — the last woman to hold a congressional seat said this year's class of female candidates could change perceptions for voters moving forward.
"Women are 52 percent of voters," former U.S. Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Allyson Schwartz said. "We’re here. We have a right to be represented."