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PA Women Underrepresented in Local Politics

Where are the women? And why is Pennsylvania in the bottom quartile when it comes to women in local politics?

The Center for American Women and Politics dove into this topic last month, looking at members and officers of the municipal legislative branch of incorporated cities and towns with populations over 10,000. While they differ by municipality, they do include city councils, commissions, boards, mayors, etc.

In the Keystone State, women make up less than one-third of those offices, placing Pennsylvania in the bottom quartile in the country for female representation in local government.

The numbers are not any better in the General Assembly, as women make up just one-quarter of the body.

Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, told Axios that a trend of “negative gatekeeping through lack of endorsement and lack of resources,” tends to impact women, people of color and young people.

Pennsylvania is trending upwards. According to numbers on the PCWP website, in 2001, there were just 21 women (13D, 17R) in the House and eight (5D, 3R) in the state Senate. In 2019, those numbers rose to 52 (30D, 22R) and 13, respectively, for an average of 10 percent gains.

If there is another positive to take from the report, Pennsylvania has improved its national rank by five places since 2021.


Comparison of Women’s Municipal and State Legislative Representation

PA Municipal Rank / Percentage: 36th out of 50 / 28.5%

State Legislative Rank / Percentage: 31st out of 50 / 29.2%



Women Mayors in Pennsylvania Cities, Towns (2021)
Populations over 30,000

Upper Darby: Barbarann Keffer

Scranton: Paige Cognetti (pictured)

Lancaster: Danene Sorace

Penn Hills: Pauline Calabrese



Percentage of Women in Municipal Office by State
Populations over 10,000

Pennsylvania Rank: 36th out of 50.
Incorporated Municipalities over 10,000: 239
Women: 28.5%
Men: 71.2%


Credits: Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP). 2022. “2022 Women in Municipal Office.” New Brunswick, NJ: Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University-New Brunswick. (Accessed April 6, 2022)


7 Responses

  1. This is not a joking matter. Decisions are being made daily for all of us yet those of us who are women are not fairly represented. I am not saying we are better than the guys but we sure as hell aren’t any worse.

    1. No one is stopping you or any other woman from running for office. Also, since both sexes are biologically predisposed to protect girls/women while ignoring the wellbeing of boys/men, women’s issues are arguably overrepresented.

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