WOMEN PLAY MINOR ROLE IN WV POLITICS - Calhoun Fares Well With Women In Key Roles


In West Virginia, women holding elected positions in state government, with half the state populated by women, are woefully unrepresented.

Well known Sen. Donna Boley (R-Pleasants) is the only woman in the WV Senate.

There are 19 women in the 100-member West Virginia House of Delegates.

There is one woman in West Virginia's five-member congressional delegation.

Out of West Virginia's six statewide elected constitutional officers, there is one woman.

In Calhoun, women hold four of six elected county offices, County Clerk Jean Simers, Circuit Clerk Shelia Garretson, Prosecutor Shannon Johnson and Magistrate Teresa Robinson, all who have risen to the top in performance.

Three women have been elected to the county school board, dutifully serving are Cynthia Dale, Jackie Collins-Frail and Jenna Jett, holding three of five seats.

Grantsville has five women on council and a woman town recorder.

West Virginia is not alone with female representation.

The U.S. Congress is 19 percent female and US Governors' offices are 12 percent female.

Jennifer Lawless, a professor of government and the director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University, will give a lecture at Marshall University on Tuesday entitled "Why women don't run for office and what happens when they do."

The simple answer to that, Lawless says, is that women are both less likely to be asked to run for office and less likely to think that they're qualified to hold office.

"Women feel that they have to be twice as good to get half as far," Lawless said.

Lawless said women are holding themselves to a higher standard than a lot of similarly situated men who run for office.

Lawless, in her research, shows that the phenomenon of women thinking they are less qualified than similarly situated men is just as prevalent in younger women.

Unrelated to women involved in politics, West Virginia is a state that the pay gap between men and women is the worst in the nation.