Apr 7, 2022 - Politics

Pennsylvania women underrepresented in local politics

Reproduced from CAWP. Map: Axios Visuals

Women make up less than one-third of Pennsylvania's municipal offices, placing the commonwealth among the lowest in the country for female representation in local government.

Driving the news: The Center for American Women and Politics recently looked at demographics of local offices, including city councils, boards of aldermen, city commissions, mayors and officials who perform mayoral functions.

  • Numbers are based on cities and towns with populations over 10,000, per census data.

By the numbers: Women, who account for slightly more than half of Pennsylvania's population, make up 28.5% of municipal officeholders in the state. That's under the national average, which is around 31%.

Zoom in: In Philadelphia, women hold seven of the 16 filled council seats. One is vacant but will be filled through a special election.

  • Of note: Philadelphia has never had a woman mayor.

The big picture: Men make up a higher percentage of municipal office positions in every state except Hawaii. Mississippi has the lowest percentage of women in office at 19.7%, and Hawaii has the highest at 50%.

Between the lines: This trend on the municipal level mirrors state politics. Women make up only a quarter of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

  • Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics, cited a trend of "negative gatekeeping through lack of endorsement and lack of resources," which tends to impact women, people of color and young people.

Yes, but: There are strides that seem to indicate a more inclusive path.

  • Pennsylvania is ranked 36th in the country for women in municipal offices, but that's five spots above where it was in 2021.
avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Philadelphia.

­čî▒

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Philadelphia stories

No stories could be found

Philadelphiapostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Philadelphia.

­čî▒

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more