Women (Or Lack Thereof) in Pa., NJ & Del. Politics

Men continue to dominate most state-wide and federal offices after an Election Day with few Delaware Valley female winners

Election Day 2012 came and went without any major change to one of the most surprising trends in Tri-State governments -- the lack of woman in elected positions of power.

After Election Day, 20 percent of the U.S. Senate and at least nearly 18 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives were women. But only one of those nearly 100 total women in the U.S. Congress hails from Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware -- U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa. 13th).

While states like Wisconsin and New Hampshire saw historic wins by women, in the Delaware Valley men reigned supreme for the most part.

In Delaware, Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart was re-elected Tuesday. Stewart is the only woman in a position of major power in the First State as all other national and state-wide offices are held by men.

In Pennsylvania, Kathleen Kane won the Attorney General’s race but the only other state-wide or national office won by a woman in the Keystone State was Schwartz winning in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties.

In New Jersey, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (Second in line behind Gov. Chris Christie) and State Assembly Speaker Shelia Oliver (D-District 34) are the women holding the highest offices in state politics. And none of the state’s U.S. Senators or Representatives is a woman.

In the past, women held positions of power in our region including former N.J. Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, former Del. Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and former Pa. Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll but currently a woman doesn’t hold this high of office in any of the Tri-States.

Of course, women currently serve on state legislatures and local governments but considering they make up around half the population they are drastically under represented on the state-wide and federal levels.

It would be impossible to break every local elected position down but we did look at the mayors of the largest area cities (population wise) based on the U.S. Congress of Mayors' statistics.

We found that:

  • Men run Delaware’s three largest cities (Wilmington, Dover and Newark)
  • Only four (Dawn Zimmer - Hoboken; Wilda Diaz - Perth Amboy; Dana Redd - Camden; and Toni Ricigliano - Edison Township) of New Jersey’s 34 mayors of towns larger than 50,000 residents are women.
  • Only two (Elizabeth Rogan - Lower Merion and Carol Dijoseph - Abington) of Pennsylvania’s 13 mayors of towns larger than 50,000 residents are women.

Women aren’t well represented in the largest state offices -- that’s for sure. The question remains, why?

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