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More women wanted in state government

Photo provided by staff.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 10:32am

Louisiana has a shortage of ladies holding office in the state legislature, that's according to the Louisiana Legislative Women's Caucus. They say women bring a fresh perspective to public policy, and the state needs their help.

"But we are female. We are usually mothers, sisters, have some thought process of caring for people on an everyday basis it's not a thing that you have to teach us," State Rep. Karen St. Germain, (D) District 60, explained.

For St. Germain deciding to run for office was easy: "Thinking that I was not going to be able to pick up the phone and be able to help somebody probably drove me into my final decision to run. "

She is one of a handful of women working in state government. Right now Women make up 11.8 percent of the state legislature, which means only
17 ladies help lead Louisiana.

According to the La. Women's Caucus the number of female lawmakers dropped. In 2011 Louisiana ranked 44th in the number of women elected to state legislature with 25 women in office.

"Women make up 52 percent, I believe, of the population here in Louisiana," State Senate President Pro Tempore Sharon Weston Broome, (D) district 15, explained. "I think that our elected offices should reflect that."

Broome says the state needs more women to step up and serve.

"When there is a void of women. there is a void of input," Broome said. "We certainly need to increase the number of women in the political arena, so we can have those additional opinions those additional experiences in the legislative process as we shape policy. "

Still making sure your voice is heard isn't always easy. Broome explained, that is why it is so important for women to be prepared.

"They don't necessarily say oh that's Sharon with an idea she's a woman and she has an idea. If I'm prepared if i'm knowledgeable then they usually relate to me on that level," Broome described.

The biggest test for women in politics is election season. "You are asked questions like, 'Well what would take precedence if your child was sick," St. Germain said. "Yes m'am, we do get asked that."

St. Germain said a lot of men run into the same problems. The difference is most men have a support system waiting for them at home.

"Knowing that might become an issue during legislative session. Where we are not only needed to be there; we are expected to be there," St. Germain explained."Usually it's about children. The hardest time for a woman to run is usually when her kids are small. "

Broome described some women worry they're just not qualified.

"You don't have to have a masters degree in political science or public policy to run for office, but one of the key factors is to have the heart to serve others," Broome stated.

St. Germain says the job is worth the stress.

"I would want them to know that it is one of the most fulfilling jobs that you could ever have," She exclaimed.

Broome encourages women who think they want to run for office to research online. She said there are a lot of tools to teach you how the election process works.

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