The Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics held its Western Pennsylvania Inaugural Conference on Friday in Downtown Pittsburgh. About two hundred community stakeholders attended to listen to a variety of speakers discuss the role of women in politics, the obstacles they face, and different ways to increase their numbers.
The Pennsylvania 2012 Project is focused on increasing the number of women in Congress and state legislatures by taking advantage of all that will be happening in 2012. Following the 2010 Census, every congressional and state legislative district in the country will be redrawn, creating new and open seats. Several of the speakers spoke about the disadvantages of the western region of the state in this process, which continues losing more people than it gains.
Dana Brown, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, said that "[a]ssuming the number of women in political office is going to increase on its own is highly unlikely. Any gains that women have made have occurred through consciousness raising and collective action."
In a panel held during the morning, Senator Jay Costa (D-43) Barry Kauffman, Executive Director of Common Cause Pittsburgh, Senator Jane Earl (R-49), and Mary Hughes, founder of the 2012 Project, shared their individual views and took questions from the audience.
The half-day event concluded with a speech by Governor Christine Todd Whitman about whether or not women in politics truly matter. She says they do.