In speaking to three local delegates for the Democratic National Convention, at least one thing became clear: it’s tough to be a woman in politics.
“It’s pretty bad,” state Rep. Tina Davis said. “We’re so behind on the times. We don’t have enough women in Harrisburg.”
In the state House, 165 of the 203 total representatives are men. That percentage is below the national average. The figures look worse for the state in the U.S. Congress, where no Pennsylvania seats are occupied by women.
“Many of us running for office have experienced some really nasty sexist or sex-related comments that would never be said to men and aren’t,” said Kathy Boockvar, one of the Bucks delegates. “Getting women to run, you have to ask a woman something like seven or eight times to get them to even consider it.”
When women are asked, Boockvar said, the most common response is, “I’m not qualified.”
Perhaps that perception will change this week. If all goes as predicted, Hillary Clinton will be the first-ever woman to accept the Democratic nomination for president. Clinton’s campaign could represent a milestone for women aspiring to careers in politics, and these Bucks delegates are excited to support her.
“I’m floored by anybody, man or woman, to have the courage and the brains to run for office,” Bucks Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia said. “Quite frankly, given the vitriol she has had to deal with … it shows me she has an incredible amount of love and commitment to this country.”
Ellis-Marseglia and Davis currently hold offices. Boockvar is executive director of Life Cycle Women’s Care, a nonprofit women’s health organization. She ran for the 8th Congressional District seat in 2012, which she lost in a landslide to current Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick. She also previously ran for Commonwealth Court.
“The things people say are remarkable, like, ‘How are you going to do this with children and your family?’ ” she said.
“Hillary Clinton has been the target of so much talk about her weight, her hair, her clothes,” Boockvar continued. “Nobody talks about what men look like.”
She did concede that people make jokes about Donald Trump’s hair, however.
When asked about the Republican National Convention, all three delegates responded with some level of disapproval. Probably most so was Ellis-Marseglia, who has been outspoken about her distaste for Republican nominee Donald Trump in recent weeks.
“I found this week to be very depressing,” she said. “I’m about positivity. We have had enough difficulty in this nation, in this world. There’s no reason to be angry and negative.”
“I do believe he is the wrong direction for this country,” Davis said. “I think Hillary is getting a bad rap because of her being a woman … she has a resume that can’t be beat.”
All three hope that the Democratic National Convention will prove to be organized and harmonious.
Only Davis had been a delegate previously. She represented Bucks at the 2012 DNC in Charlotte. The other Bucks delegates are state Rep. John Galloway and local party leader John Cordisco.
“My first thought — please let it not be anything like the Republican Convention,” Boockvar said. “What I hope I see is a real synergy in the room.”