Last week, I tweeted about my frustration that so many stories covering Pennsylvania politics contain only the voices of men.
Why does it matter? Well, for one thing, I’m tired of walking into rooms of political organizers, candidates, staffers or whatever, where I’m the only woman. I know it sounds crazy, but that still happens in 2014. But as long as the default message given out is that the only “experts” on politics happen to be men, it makes it harder for the rest of us to become “experts.”
In reaction to the tweet, a reporter friend* of mine (who shall remain nameless) pointed out the difficulty in quoting women, when there’s such a disproportionate number of men holding elective office in PA, and I’m sympathetic to that, of course. But there are also a whole lot of stories where all the “experts” on PA politics that get quoted are also men–and most of the time, those experts are political consultants, or lobbyists, or other guys who run statewide organizations.
There are plenty of women running statewide organizations that deal with politics–or work as political consultants–but we’re much less likely to get called by reporters asking for opinions. And that means we’re less likely to end up in the paper, people don’t ask us to run for things ourselves, it’s harder for our organizations to be taken seriously, it’s more difficult for us to get work. Not just one of us. All of us.
Still, I never want to be the person who’s just calling out problems, without solutions, so I decided to make a list of all the women I know who work in politics–or for organizations that work on political issues–so that when I’m calling out political analysis that doesn’t include women’s voices, I can point to all the folks they could’ve talked to.
It’s not comprehensive, by any means. My list skews towards Philly & Harrisburg folks, and towards progressives & Democrats. If you are a woman working in politics and you want to be included–it’s open to anyone in the state, regardless of geography or partisanship. Leave a comment here with your Twitter username, or @-mention me on Twitter, and I’ll add you.
There are, of course, also women who work in politics that aren’t on Twitter (though how they get through the day, I’ll never know). If you want to be listed here, and you aren’t on twitter, send me the email that you want to be contacted at, and I’ll make sure your deets get up online.
Of course, if I’ve put you on this list, and for some reason you DON’T want to be on it, let me know that too–I’ll take you off. You don’t even have to tell me why. I’ve tried to keep from promoting locked accounts, apologies if I missed yours.
So the next time you’re reading–or writing–a story about Pennsylvania politics that doesn’t include the voices of one single women, regardless of the partisanship or topic, ask yourself “why not?”
And maybe think about looking at this list, and if you’re on twitter, use the hashtag #womensvoicesmatter to point out where to find some.
*reporter friend! I love you for inspiring me to write this post.
Non-twitter political women:
Nina Ahmad, Philadelphia NOW
Carol Carvalho, Southeastern PA Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
Patty Eakin, Pennsylvania Staff Nurses & Allied Professionals
Starr Romano, RN
Alia Trindle, Put People First