Hillary Clinton may have put “18 million cracks in the glass ceiling” with her 2008 presidential campaign, and a woman will win the White House some day, but political parity also requires a steady supply of city councilors, county commissioners, state legislators and members of Congress.
Emily’s List, the PAC that backs pro-choice Democratic women candidates, intends to take some steps in that direction Thursday with a campaign training session for several dozen women at Philadelphia University as part of its Political Opportunity Program.
"It’s about 50 percent inspiration and 50 percent nuts and bolts,” Emily’s List Political Director Denise Feriozzi said. Attendees learn fundraising techniques, messaging, how to make a campaign plan and other skills. “The last thing we do is to ask them to run.”
Since 2001, Emily’s List has trained nearly 8,000 women in 36 states. The group says that in 2012, a record number of women ran for office.
“Women are running for Congress and down-ballot, and winning, at higher rates than we’ve seen,” Feriozzi said. “It’s time to capture and build on that momentum.” She added that the “numbers of women elected in Pennsylvania are not as high as we’d like.”
For example, the state ranks 39th in the nation for the percentage of women in its legislature, at just under 18 percent, according to this year’s annual report from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Ten years ago, the state was 45th.
In New Jersey, 29 percent of lawmakers are female - up 13 percentage points since 2003. Women make up 26 percent of the state legislature in Dover, Del.
Colorado’s legislature is ranked first; 41 percent of its senators and representatives are women. In last place: Louisiana, with 11 percent.
Last year, Pennsylvania elected the first woman ever to statewide office, Attorney General Kathleen Kane, and U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz is a leading candidate in the 2014 competitive Democratic primary for governor.
“There is something about seeing women in the highest offices in the state that inspires other women to do the same,” Feriozzi said.
[Registration for Thursday’s training is closed, but Emily’s List will be back in the state later in the year and interested women are invited to sign up for future sessions here.]