• Women in Politics: Challenges and Trends


The Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University Law School will gather a panel of women political leaders and experts on April 6 to examine “Women in Politics: Challenges and Trends.”

The panel, which includes former, newly elected and long-serving women in Massachusetts politics, will address how women politicians are faring in the Bay State. The forum will look at trends in participation as well as challenges pertaining to women running for and holding public office.

While women represent about 51 percent of the Massachusetts population, they make up only 23 percent of the state Legislature, the lowest percentage since 1998, according to the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus.

National representation among women also has stagnated. Since 2005, the increase in women serving in state legislatures has been less than 2 percent, according to figures from the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus. In 2010, women accounted for just 16.8 percent of Congress.

The analytical discussion of women’s status in the political arena, co-sponsored by the Women's Bar Association, the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus and the Boston Club, is expected to draw more than 200 attendees. It will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, 2011, in the Suffolk University Law School First-Floor Function Room, 120 Tremont St., Boston.

Panelists include:

  • Leanne Doherty, professor, Political Science and International Relations, Simmons College
  • Kerry Healey, former lieutenant governor and co-chair of the Political Parity Project
  • Rep. Shaunna O’Connell; R-Taunton
  • Rep. Martha “Marty” Walz, D-Boston

Political reporter Janet Wu of WCVB-TV, Channel 5, will moderate the discussion.

“Drawing attention to important governance and policy concerns is a central aspect of the Rappaport Center’s mission,” said Susan Prosnitz, executive director of Suffolk University Law School’s Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service. “It became clear in recent conversations with government, business and civic women leaders that this issue needed to be highlighted through a forum connecting academic experts and elected officials with stakeholders in the community.”

The Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University Law School was established in 2006 through a generous gift from the Jerome Lyle Rappaport Charitable Foundation and Jerry and Phyllis Rappaport. The Center fosters innovative thinking on law and public policy and promotes emerging leaders who are deeply committed to public service and pro bono work.

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Greg Gatlin

Mariellen Norris