Montana News

Oct 13, 2012 11:18 AM by Victoria Fregoso - MTN News

Montana is lagging behind in political female representation

BILLINGS- There are 188 candidates are in the race to fill the 100 seats that make up Montana's House of Representatives and of those candidates, just under 30% are women.

"Women in general certainly are under-represented in the US in terms of elected officials," said Dr. Craig Wilson, a Political Science professor Montana State Univeristy-Billings.

Taking a closer look at those numbers, 13 Republican women are vying for positions, while that number more than triples for Democrats.

"Republicans, certainly, to be competitive are going to have to catch up and attempt to recruit more women candidates."

But those numbers don't intimidate new comer Sarah Laszloffy, a 21-year-old Republican running for Laurel's House District 57.

"I'm not running to be a voice for just women, I'm there to serve all of my constituents and if we happen to be in the minority, that's great, I hope we see it grow."

Billings Democrat Margie MacDonald runs for her third term in House District 54. She's witnessed firsthand the impact women have on the state legislature.

"I believe women make a difference, they have a different perspective, that doesn't mean we vote in lock-step and certainly the partisanship does enter in because we don't all vote the same across the aisle."

A MSU-B study shows when women run for office, they have a good chance to win. So why aren't more women running? Some say it's due to a gender gap, where females tend to vote for democrats and males for republicans. But also, responsibilities women have at home often keep them from the state capital.

"It's a lot harder to serve in office, especially if you are the primary caregiver for little ones."

So, even though the female candidate pool isn't growing, those who are, are ready for the challenge.

"I've had very positive feedback, people are excited to jump on board, especially because I am young, but also female."

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