Op/ed: Gender gap still problem in Chesco

A recent opinion piece in the Daily Local newspaper entitled “County is Ahead of the Curve on Women in Leadership,” asserts that women “at the helm is business as usual.”

It is certainly true that women in Chester County have made remarkable social, economic and political progress in recent years.  We have made great strides towards closing the gender gap in several aspects including, as the article points out, women in prominent positions such as county commissioner, sheriff, borough and township official and emergency responder.

Despite these local successes that we deserve to tout, gender equality is not yet “business as usual.” Women across the nation, including Chester County, still face stubborn disparities in opportunities and outcomes in numerous areas such as a significant gender wage gap, poverty, limited access to child care, adverse health conditions and threats to their personal safety.

Women continue to be significantly underrepresented in political office relative to their share of the population as well. According to the 2016 Blueprint Report from the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls, women are not yet on an even playing field with men. For example, in 2016, women’s representation at all levels of government remains well below their share of the overall population.

Out of 13 state legislators serving in Chester County, only one is female. Chester County also lags in terms of representation of women of color in elected offices. Only 23 percent of state legislature seats are held by women in Pennsylvania, and zero of Pennsylvania’s 20 members of U.S. Congress are women.

Despite how “good, skilled, and capable” women are, they face barriers that often make it difficult for them to assume leadership positions in the public sphere. Such disproportionate gender and racial representation is an impediment to a vibrant democracy in which both women and man can thrive.

The Chester County Fund for Women and Girls is the county’s trusted voice regarding women’s issues in our region. Our 2016 Blueprint Report provides an objective and comprehensive assessment of the status of women at the local, state, and national level. We seek to shine a spotlight on the issues Chester County women and girls face, including challenges to political and civic involvement. By educating and increasing awareness within the community about the state of women in Chester County, we can collectively leverage the success of previous and current efforts to improve the lives of women and girls in Chester County.

For more information about CCFWG and its 2016 Blueprint Report, visit www.ccfwg.org. 

Kate Zielsdorf and Michelle Legaspi Sanchez

Chester County Fund for Women and Girls

About CFLive Staff

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One Response to “Op/ed: Gender gap still problem in Chesco”

  1. Patrick Barron says:

    I challenge Kate and Michelle to point to one law, regulation, public policy, etc. that excludes women from jobs. Otherwise, the opportunities or lack thereof for women in all walks of life remain in the personal and not public sphere.

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