The Women of the Pennsylvania General Assembly: Explaining Women’s Representation in Pennsylvania State Politics


  • Kathleen M. Rogers



The Pennsylvania General Assembly is ranked 40th among the 50 state legislatures for its proportion of female legislators. Women constitute 18.6% of the bicameral legislature, including nine of 50 senators and 38 of 203 representatives. Various characteristics of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, including its professionalization, appear to provide numerous challenges to women’s entry. As such, the presence of 47 women in the legislature is noteworthy. This exploratory case study examines the experiences of women in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, presenting a qualitative analysis of several interviews with female legislators. The findings indicate that these women were encouraged to run for their current seats primarily by having the support of their families and political parties, by the availability of open seats, and by developing confidence in their qualifications through a politicized upbringing.