Why do men outnumber women in elected office?
Even though there are slightly more women than men, in Erie County, a new report shows most elected offices are held by men.
The Erie County Commission on the Status of Women released its Women in Elected Office report to a small number of invited guests, inside the Buffalo History Museum, Monday. It shows women make up 52% of the county's population and 53% of its registered voters - but women only account for a third of local elected government officials.
"No woman has ever served as county executive, mayor of Buffalo, district attorney, sheriff or superintendent of highways. Conversely, women have served in great numbers, more than men, as town clerk and almost equally as family court judge," said Karen King, Executive Director of the County's Commission on the Status of Women. While women have made some progress in the political arena, King says, they're still woefully underrepresented across the landscape.
Former State Senator Mary Lou Rath says, in the late 1970s, she was among seven elected women in Erie County government. Now there are three. Rath says, it's important to get more women elected, at all levels of government, because women will always reach across the aisle.
"They will disregard which part they're in. And as you do in your household, and in your home, you try to find a compromise to get the job done. You find a way to manage it. And that means reach across the aisle and get the votes. It's a world of who's got the votes. Sometimes it's pretty ugly. But no one said democracy was going to beautiful," Rath said.
Currently there are no women on the Buffalo Common Council. And out of 25 supervisor offices in the county - only 6 are held by women. King says the report is a stark reminder of the hurdles facing women seeking elected office and the amount of work that still needs to be done.