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Women’s Participation in Politics.

Women’s participation in local politics, in running and getting elected to local government posts, has started to level off. After reach an all-time high in 2002, the Star Tribune reports that the number of women elected to local government positions is no longer growing.

In Minnesota, fewer than 130 mayors are female out of 854 mayoralities. That comes out to just under 15 percent. Nationally, as of August 2010, only 17.5% of cities with populations over 30,000 had female mayors (five in Minnesota–Apple Valley, Burnsville, Lakeville, Plymouth, and Richfield).

The good news for Minnesota in terms of women’s representation in politics is at the state legislature level. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, 21 out of 67 2011 Minnesota State Senators are women and 43 of 134 Representatives. That makes our percentage of women holding elective office in the state legislature 31.8%. We’re ranked 5th among state legislatures in the country for our proportion of women.

Women are still under-represented in holding elected office nationally and locally, something that Claire Haag, assistant professor of political science at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University has to do with their feelings toward running for office.

“It’s just been a very slow process,” Haag said. “In part we see the problem (as) women have to be asked to run and men assume they’ve got something to add. The confidence is different.”

A statewide 2009 study found that women who hold office tend to be more qualified than their male counterparts.We’ve got to keep encouraging qualified, competent women to run for office and to encourage those who have statewide or national ambitions to pursue those goals.

Photo credit: AFL-CIO

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