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More Pittsburgh-Area Women Winning Legislative Seats In Harrisburg

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which guarantees and protects women's constitutional right to vote.

In fact, Thursday is the 101st anniversary of the date Congress first passed the amendment.

Despite this history, Pennsylvania has been slow to embrace women as elected officials.

More than half the voters in the state are women, but they make up only one-quarter of the state House and Senate.

Pennsylvania has never had a woman governor or a U.S. Senator.

But all that could be changing.

We all remember the suffragettes who fought for the vote for women but getting women elected to public office has taken a lot longer.

"I wouldn't be here if that hadn't happened," Emily Kinkead told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Thursday.


Kinkead, a Democrat, defeated Rep. Adam Ravenstahl on Tuesday. And with no Republican opponent this fall, she will be the latest local woman sent to Harrisburg.

"We've had a drastic increase in female representation on both sides of the aisle in southwest Pa.," says Kinkead.

Kinkead hopes to join eight women — four Republicans (Reps. Valerie Gaydos, Natalie Mihalek, Lori Mizgorski, and Marci Mustello) and four Democrats (Reps. Sara Innamorato, Anita Kulik, Summer Lee and Pam Snyder) — in representing this region in the state House.

It's taken a long time, according to analysts.

"Particularly in western Pennsylvania, there's been a particular lag. But as you can see a couple of days ago, we've made some real progress," says Dr. Dana Brown, executive director of Chatham University's Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics.

Brown says women bring skills to public office that voters want.

"We see an increase in bipartisanship. We see new agenda items, policy agenda items, brought to the table that did not exist before. We also see the language around how we discuss bills to be different, much more collaborative," she adds.

In addition to the local House members, this region also has four local women state Senators — Camera Bartolotta, Pam Iovino, Kim Ward, and Lindsey Williams.

At least 10 women candidates are running for General Assembly locally, and, in some cases, they are running against women incumbents.

Now that would have been very unusual a few years ago.

Click here for the latest election results.

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