The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Pennsylvania Center for Women in Politics hosts Ready to Run Conference

Women make up half of the population, and yet they tend to get nowhere near the many seats in local and state legislatures. When race intersects with gender, the numbers dwindle even further.

Women of color are often underrepresented in political offices. According to the 2012 United States Census, women of color make up an estimated 18.5 percent of the population, but they are less likely than their white counterparts–male or female–to hold office. This past midterm election left Pennsylvania without a female representative in the newly elected congress.

As many may know, for the past four years Chatham University’s own Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics hosts a Ready to Run Conference. At this bipartisan conference, participants are given training techniques that help them learn to fundraise, utilize political parties, and generally run successful campaigns for office. The program itself is four years old and is modeled after the National Network Partner Program from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

On January 30, before the conference itself started, a two-hour panel was held, dedicated to the unique challenges that women of color who run for office are likely to face. The panel itself was made up of those with experience in this area. On the panel sat Councilwoman Marita Garrett, Chief Urban Affairs Officer Valerie McDonald-Roberts, and Pittsburgh Public School board member Sylvia Wilson.

When asked why the pre-conference was necessary, Dana Brown, the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics Executive Director, responded by saying, “We know from political science research that women of color often face different issues on the campaign trail and want to make sure that we are able to offer space and time to understand what those differences are and how to be successful if you are a women of color running.”

The panelists offered those in attendance advice on how to deal with unique challenges and run a successful campaign.

The Center has often stated that an obstacle to women on both sides of the aisle holding office is not running to begin with. Women are generally less likely to run for office, and women of color are even less likely to run.

Beyond the challenges, Brown shared that women of color who hold office are more likely to represent diverse communities and various identities.

When asked what she hoped attendees would get out of both the panel and conference Brown responded in saying, “I hope that the participants of the Ready to Run training come away with real campaign skills like fundraising, how to develop a campaign plan, how to navigate their political party, to name a few. As a by-product of learning these skills I want women’s confidence on the campaign trail to increase.”

“Overall I hope women come away with inspiration and education,” she said.

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