For women, a small leap forward

    You might be surprised to learn that in 2010, for the first time a woman has been elected to a leadership post in the Democratic caucus of the Pennsylvania state Senate.

    Last week Philadelphia State Senator Tina Tartaglione became the Democratic caucus secretary, making a part of her party’s leadership team.

    Tartaglione comes from a family steeped in Philadelphia ward politics. Her mother, Marge Tartaglione, is chair of the City Commissioners and a Democratic ward leader in Northeast Philadelphia.

     Tartaglione said Democratic leaders in Harrisburg now are more open-minded than those in charge when she arrived in the Senate 16 years ago.

    ” The average of individuals when I first came was like 65 to 70,” Tartaglione said, “and they looked at me like a granddaughter, or somebody they didn’t even want to bother with.”

     Pennsylvania is known for lagging behind other states in electing women to office. No statewide elected officials are women.

    Democratic Allyson Schwartz is the only woman among the state’s 19-member Congressional delegation. She spent 14 years in the state Senate before being elected to Congress, and she said women who seek elected office here have to be determined.

     “They need to do what every candidate does, which is to step up and to really understand what it takes to run and to win.” Schwartz said.

     Pennsylvania has yet to elect a woman governor or state House speaker.

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