ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — After a look at the races across Pennsylvania for the 2020 primary, WTAJ News noticed there are less than 20 women on those ballots.
So we decided to find out why, after the year of the woman in 1992 and 2018’s record-breaking year for women candidates, women still aren’t running for office at the same rate as men.
While women started making history in politics as early as the 1840s, we’re still making history today and claiming “firsts” for women nearly 200 years later.
Professor Nichola Gutgold of Communication Arts and Sciences at Penn State Lehigh Valley researches the rhetoric of women in male-dominated fields and has written books about women in politics.
“Women, unlike men, tend to look at every single criteria that’s required for success and if we don’t have one of them we might step aside and say let me work on that one skill, for example, and when I have that skill I’m going to apply for that position,” says Professor Gutgold. “The old joke in Washington is that every single man that is a senator that wakes up in the morning looks in the mirror and sees the next president of the United States.”
At the core, Professor Gutgold says it’s about confidence and it starts at a young age.
“I would encourage women out there, look, this is your country. You should be involved,” says Lara Trump, President Trump’s daughter-in-law and Campaign Advisor.
But the mindset is starting to change.
“The more you have women on the ballot, the better it is,” explains Joanne McGahagan, Recording Secretary for the Pennslyvania Federation of Democratic Women.
Women are getting more confident.
And no matter what side of the aisle you’re on, women agree, more women need to be on the ballot.
“Women make up 52% of our great country and we could be involved in politics,” says Trump.
“Since we’re 50% of the population, we should be 50% of the people who are running for office too,” says McGahagan.
Professor Gutgold has also found women have different reasons to run compared to men. “About the women who are running this election cycle, I noticed in their campaign literature many of them tie their personal stories to the reasons they’re running,” she says.
Instead of waiting until they’re empty nesters or when their husband’s careers are over, women are starting to run for office younger which is a sign of progress.
“I think, you know, we will see more women running and I think we’ll see more women winning because it’s just natural the more women who run, the more natural it will seem,” says Professor Gutgold.