Report: Pa. Woman Legislators More Effective at Passing Laws

So why aren't we electing more women?

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A new report claims that Pennsylvania’s woman legislators are more effective at passing laws.

Researchers at the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University found that during the 2013-14 legislative term, 9.7 percent of bills sponsored by female legislators were passed and signed by the governor, compared to 9 percent of bills sponsored by male legislators. 

Female legislators were able to get more co-sponsors for their bills during that legislative term, according to the study. On average, legislation introduced by women had an average of 18.2 co-sponsors, while legislation introduced by men had an average of 17.1 co-sponsors.

In addition, researchers found that the state’s woman legislators were more likely to reach across party lines to pass legislation. In the 2013-14 legislative term, legislation sponsored by women (both Democrats and Republicans) had more co-sponsors from opposing parties than legislation sponsored by men.

Women make up 51 percent of the U.S. population – yet they hold only 19 percent of seats in Congress. In Pennsylvania’s 253-member General Assembly, only 40 women legislators currently serve in the House, and eight serve in the Senate. The Chatham study, titled “Few, but Mighty: Women and Bill Sponsorship in the Pennsylvania General Assembly,” begs the question: Why aren’t we electing more women?

Pennsylvania has earned concerning grades from several organizations that claim the state lacks in gender equality. In its 2013 study titled “The State of Women in America,” the Center for American Progress gave the state a “C-” grade. A 2015 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research rated Pennsylvania in several categories (including employment and earnings, health and wellbeing, poverty and opportunity, reproductive rights, political participation, and work and family), and the state failed to earn a score higher than a “C” in any category.

“Given both the paucity of women in Pennsylvania government and the crucial role women appear to play in addressing women’s issues, it should be no surprise that Pennsylvania is often criticized for failing to meet the needs of its female citizens,” the study reads.

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