The Pennsylvania state Legislature has 253 members. Currently, only 46 of them are women.
The League of Women Voters will discuss this problem, among other issues, at its state convention, which they recently announced will take place in Pittsburgh next month.
“Pittsburgh has not had the convention in the city since, I think the late '70s,” said Eileen Olmsted, chair of the local arrangements committee for the 2015 convention. “So it’s been a very long time since the convention was here. And we’ve really been playing up the changes that have happened in the city of Pittsburgh to get members to come out and see what a beautiful city we have.”
At the biannual gathering, delegates meet and vote on what issues the organization will study and act on until the next convention.
Pennsylvania ranks 39th among all states in terms of percentage of representation by women in state legislatures, according to the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics.
Olmsted said the problem is a mix of not enough women running for office and also not enough women candidates winning their elections.
“I think that it’s difficult to get into races for women,” Olmstedt said. “But the state Legislature and our representation in congress has been very low in terms of number of women involved.”
Despite this, Olmsted is hopeful more women will start to get elected in coming years.
“We do have quite a few younger women who have won on the local level, and we hope to see them keep going onto higher levels,” she said.
Other top issues the organization continues to address are redistricting and public education, according to Olmsted.
“We’ll be talking a lot during our convention about redistricting,” she said, “and what the league can do to improve the way we do redistricting in the state. This is one of the most important issues in terms of power at the state Legislature.”
The convention will be at the Hotel Monaco in downtown Pittsburgh from June 5 to June 7.