Where are the women in Pennsylvania politics? The appellate courts

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Perhaps we should call it Men-sylvania.

Female representation in the commonwealth’s elected offices is woeful.

Men-sylvania has never had a woman governor or U.S. senator and there are no females in the current congressional delegation.

Less than 20 percent of the General Assembly comes from the “fairer” sex.

“It’s another challenge,” said Mary Hannah Leavitt. “We need more women in all branches of government.”

Leavitt is the president judge of Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court. Statewide appellate courts are actually an oasis in an otherwise arid political landscape. There are five women and four men on Commonwealth Court. There are eight women and five men on Superior Court and three of seven justices on the state Supreme Court are female, the most in its history.

“We look better in pearls on our robe,” Leavitt said with a smile. “We all wear pearls.”

Leavitt, who has lived in Harrisburg since 1972, has pearls and wisdom. She has a quick wit to go with a strong intellect. She thinks being a woman may be an advantage running statewide for a court that most citizens aren’t aware of.

“Given the choice between a man and a woman, neither of which you know nothing anything about, you’re gonna choose the woman. That’s my instinct anyway,” Leavitt said.

“I do think that women are poised and trained and ready in a way in which they haven’t been before,” said Dr. Dana Brown, executive director for the non-partisan Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Pittsburgh’s Chatham University.

Brown senses women of both parties have become galvanized and energized since the last election. She hosted two seminars in February, teaching women how to campaign. She says they were packed with ladies ready to run.

“Women are community leaders,” Brown said. “We just need to help direct some of  that energy to more political outlets.”

Leavitt says many women don’t want to take the risk involved in running for office, but she’s glad she did. She now runs a very collaborative court and is certain the trail is being blazed.

“As time passes, we’re gonna get more and more women willing to take the leap and the risk involved in running for every manner of public office,” Leavitt said.

She has four years left of her five-year stint as president judge. The president judge on Superior Court is Susan Peikes Gantman.

Online: Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics

Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download our News App and our Weather App for your phone and tablet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s