Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman was recently interviewed for an article on women in the New York state legislature which appeared in six Gannett Publications throughout New York, including The Journal News, Ithaca Journal, Star Gazette, and Democrat and Chronicle.
According to the article, “New York ranks 33rd in the nation for the percentage of women holding state seats.” It points out that women make up nearly 52 percent of the population of New York yet only 21 percent of its legislature.
“New York is not unique with its problem with enticing women to run for office. Women face a lot of pressures that may discourage them from going into politics,” Deutchman says.
“We talk about living in a gender-neutral world, but we don’t,” Deutchman says. “Even with all the progress we’ve made, it’s still the case that women are largely responsible for all the family stuff and by the way, that also has issues around getting elected because if you are a woman who’s married and ‘neglecting’ her husband and children in order to run for office, then they make a big deal of that and you don’t look like a very attractive candidate.”
Deutchman holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University in political science and economics. She is a professor of 20 plus years who has worked on two continents (Australia and North America). In addition, Deutchman has a long list of publications in major journals, the latest of which are “Electoral Challenges of Moderate Factions: Main Streeters and Blue Dogs, 1994- 2008,” The Forum, Vol. 8: Iss2, Article 2 (2010) (with DeWayne Lucas); “Five Factions, Two Parties: Caucus Membership in the House of Representatives, 1994- 2002,” Congress and the Presidency, 36:62-84, 2009 (with Lucas); and “Fundamentalist Christians, Raunch Culture and Post-industrial Capitalism,” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, Summer 2008.
The article as it appeared in The Journal News follows.
The Journal News
N.Y. ranks 33rd in U.S. for women in state Legislature
Ashley Hupfl • April 19, 2014
ALBANY – New York ranks 33rd in the nation for the percentage of women holding state seats.
The National Conference of State Legislatures released a database earlier this month that tracks the presence of women in state legislatures. It found that just 21 percent of New York’s legislators are women, lower than the national average of 24 percent.
The NCSL reports the New York Legislature, which has 213 seats, has 34 women holding offices in the Assembly and 11 women in the Senate. That’s 21 percent, even though women in New York make up nearly 52 percent of the population.
Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, noted that the state Senate has its first female conference leader in history – Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers – but still falls short to represent women in politics.
In 2009, 25 percent of state legislators were women, the group said.
“It’s hard to convince women to run for office in New York state,” Krueger said. “Politics has an ugly glow about it, particularly in this state. So if you’re a smart, committed woman and you look at career paths where you can make a difference, a lot of women in New York today, I believe, say ‘I have options and I believe in doing important things, but I’m not sure Albany is the kind of town I want go to.’ “
Krueger said the “culture” of Albany needs to change to entice women to run for office.
The Capitol has been stung by a number of scandals in recent years in which male lawmakers were accused of sexually harassing young, female aides.
There has been progress across New York. The cities of Syracuse, Rochester and Albany all have female mayors, a first in the state.
Stewart-Cousins said the lack of female voices in Albany is disconcerting. She said it’s important to have diverse perspectives negotiating legislation. She pointed to 10-point Women’s Equality Agenda that has stalled at the Capitol because of a controversial abortion provision.
“You have to have a certain amount of the legislative body in order to really feel the impact of whoever it is, women or otherwise, on legislative policy,” Stewart-Cousins said. “Clearly we have a long way to go, and I really hope that New York lives up to its progressive name as far as getting women elected.”
Vermont has the highest percentage of women elected to a state Legislature, with 41 percent. Louisiana has the lowest percentage at 13 percent.
Democrats had nearly twice as many female legislators than Republicans nationally – with 1,133 Democrats and 636 Republicans, the group said.
There are 1,784 female legislators out of 7,383 legislator positions total nationwide, making up 24 percent. The 2012 census reports women represent 51 percent of the U.S. population.
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Binghamton, is the vice-chair of the Women’s Legislative Caucus at the Capitol and the first woman to represent the area in Albany.
She said it’s difficult for women to break into politics on the local level when it’s mainly dominated by men. Also, women with families find it difficult to commit days of the week in Albany and away from home, she said.
But Lupardo said that women’s voices are increasingly needed at the Capitol, pointing to issues such as equal pay and child care.
“It would be a dramatically different and improved dynamic,” she said. “We raise a lot of issues that aren’t always on the front burner.”
Iva Deutchman, a professor who teaches gender and politics at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, Ontario County, said New York is not unique with its problem with enticing women to run for office. She said women face a lot of pressures that may discourage them from going into politics.
“We talk about living in a gender-neutral world, but we don’t,” Deutchman said. “Even with all the progress we’ve made, it’s still the case that women are largely responsible for all the family stuff and by the way, that also has issues around getting elected because if you are a woman who’s married and ‘neglecting’ her husband and children in order to run for office, then they make a big deal of that and you don’t look like a very attractive candidate.”
Includes reporting by Albany Bureau Chief Joseph Spector. Twitter: @ashleyhupfl