Deutchman on Women in Politics
Posted on Monday, November 14, 2011
Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman was quoted in an article in the Democrat and Chronicle on Sunday, Nov. 14. The article, "Women taking major role as leaders in area politics," examines recent local races.
"Democrats and Republicans in Monroe County didn't walk away with everything they wanted on Tuesday, as each had their share of losses," the article says. "But the election capped a good year for women in politics: Sandra Doorley was the first woman elected district attorney, Maggie Brooks was the first county executive to win a third term and, for the first time, the county's top job was sought by two women, Brooks and Brighton Supervisor Sandra Frankel."
Deutchman, an expert on women and politics, was called upon for her observations of the shift. "Some local party organizations that nominate candidates are still dominated by men, which can inhibit party support for women, but that's not the case in Monroe County," Deutchman says.
A member of the HWS faculty since 1987, 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.
The full article follows.
Democrat and Chronicle
Women taking major role as leaders in area politics
Jill Terreri • Staff writer • November 13, 2011
Democrats and Republicans in Monroe County didn't walk away with everything they wanted on Tuesday, as each had their share of losses.
But the election capped a good year for women in politics: Sandra Doorley was the first woman elected district attorney, Maggie Brooks was the first county executive to win a third term and, for the first time, the county's top job was sought by two women, Brooks and Brighton Supervisor Sandra Frankel.
The promotion of female candidates is a bipartisan affair locally: Last week's winners, Doorley and Brooks, come from the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively.
And while the number of women elected to federal office nationwide has lagged, Monroe County boasts several women in prominent offices:
• Three of Monroe County's four countywide offices, outside of the judiciary, will be held by women as of January: Brooks, Doorley and County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo.
(Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn is the fourth.)
• Three of the four members of the House of Representatives delegation are women.
• Six of the nine members of City Council are women, including its president, Democrat Lovely Warren.
• Democrat Mary Adams was elected to the city school board, increasing the number of women on the seven-member board from three to four.
• In the Monroe County Legislature, Republican Karla Boyce won in Mendon on Tuesday, bringing the number of women to five on the 29-member board.
In 2011, three of the four candidates for top offices, county executive and district attorney, were women.
Doorley, having defeated Republican Bill Taylor, told supporters Tuesday that she was excited to be a role model for her two daughters.
But 2012 also will see many women compete for elected office locally.
Monroe County is shaping up to be the scene of a major contest between two of its best-known residents, Brooks and Rep. Louise Slaughter, if Brooks decides to run for Congress.
Like Reps. Kathy Hochul, D-Amherst, Erie County, and Ann Marie Buerkle, R-Onondaga, Onondaga County, Slaughter, D-Fairport, said last week she expects to run again, in a district that is yet to be drawn.
District lines change every 10 years following the census.
"There are so many people interested in my seat," said Slaughter, who is 82. "When you shake hands, people try to take my pulse."
Asked if she thought Brooks would be a formidable challenger, Slaughter said: "I consider all opponents formidable. And certainly we don't have any idea what the district is going to look like."
Redistricting is a responsibility of state government.
While Democrat and Republican party leaders agree they would like a congressional district that covers more of Monroe County - instead of the current configuration of four pieces of districts anchored elsewhere - what the actual district boundaries will be are a source of much speculation among the political class.
Brooks has not ruled out running for Congress but has said she hopes the county is carved into fewer districts.
She said more women in office and in leadership roles in the community is positive.
"I think there are a lot of women who have been working in politics and are now running for more visible offices, and I think that's a sign that our political structure is more diverse," Brooks said.
"I think it's a good thing, and women should be proud that they're seeing more female leaders in government."
While the Rochester area - home of 19th century women's rights champion Susan B. Anthony - has seen many women find success in politics, the national picture is different.
Only 17 percent of seats in Congress are held by women, and the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University noted that in states that held legislative elections this year, women didn't gain any ground.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand started an organization, "Off the Sidelines," to encourage women to get involved in politics and to rise up the corporate ladder.
Gillibrand and the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Fund, which supports pro-choice Democratic women in New York, were early supporters of Hochul, who said that in order for women to be elected to Congress, there needs to be more women who run for local offices.
"I think women approach problems differently," Hochul said during a stop in Rochester last week.
"I don't think egos get in the way."
Gillibrand has said that if more women were in Congress, both parties would collaborate more.
Monroe County Democratic Chairman Joseph Morelle, who is also an assemblyman, said his experience in the Legislature doesn't reflect that view.
He said that like men, some women are more willing to compromise than others, but there are other distinctions.
"I really do think there are differences in the way men and women look at the world," he said. "I think women are much more inclined to think long term about health care and education."
Women stay away from politics because they are protective of their families, observers said.
"The reputation for meanness that campaigns sometimes have is something women want to avoid, understandably," said Livingston County Democratic Chairwoman Judith Hunter, who knocked on doors for Hochul.
Some local party organizations that nominate candidates are still dominated by men, which can inhibit party support for women, but that's not the case in Monroe County, said Hobart and William Smith Colleges political science professor Iva Deutchman.
The May special election in the 26th District, which drew national attention, featured Hochul and Republican Jane Corwin. The election was called after Rep. Chris Lee sent a shirtless photo of himself to someone he met on the Internet and subsequently resigned.
He wasn't the first, or last, member of Congress to leave under a cloud.
"One cure for that was simply to elect more women," Slaughter said.