🔴 Men still dominating local politics in NJ
🔴 Many strong female candidates never get a chance
🔴 Women running for office also face more online threats

A new study finds women continue to be underrepresented in municipal offices in New Jersey and across the nation.

According to Jean Sinzdak, the associate director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, 32% of municipal and mayoral seats throughout the country are held by women, but in New Jersey the total is 31.6%, which is 27th nationally.

She said this is not really surprising, even though Jersey is considered a progressive state.

Key challenges remain

“There are some key challenges that are universal, the first one being the power of incumbency, we have people sitting in offices for a very long time, holding seats and winning reelection again and again,” she said.

She said another reason is women are not recruited to run for office by party leaders at the same rate men are.

Creative Credit
Creative Credit

“The overwhelming majority of our party leaders are still men, and so one of the challenges is helping more women get into party leadership rolls.”

She noted what also happens “is people who are in positions of influence, they reach out to their networks and other people they know and in this case it tends to be other men.”

Victims of harassment

Sinzdak pointed out in the new political research indicates “women are more likely to be victims of harassment and misogyny, especially online, and that’s something we all need to grapple with and get a handle on.”

She said we know from past studies the top reason women run for office is because they want to change something in their community while the number one reason men tend to seek election is it’s a good career move.

“It’s not to say men who are running don’t really care about the issues or community, many of them absolutely do,” she said, “but just in terms of an orientation it’s one of several steps they may think of.”

Hispanic female business professional in office boardroom
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Why women run for office

“When women run for office they win at the same rates as men do, so winning is not the issue, the candidate pool is really the issue," she said.

“Negativity is definitely a turn-off for any newcomers to the political process in general, and that includes women.”

Her advice to politically inclined females is simple and straightforward.

Encouragement for female political participation

“If there are women out there that are listening or learning about this, and you’re thinking about running, don’t hesitate, go for it.”

The report finds the top five states for women’s representation in municipal offices in 2023 are Arizona and Alaska, both 45.1%, Nevada and Colorado, both 44.3%, and Oregon at 43.2%.

The bottom five states for women’s representation in municipal offices in 2023 are North Dakota at 20%, Mississippi, 20.3%, Nebraska, 20.8%, Wyoming at 21.4%, and South Dakota, 21.8%.

A recent Center for American Women and Politics study found while 98 women have filed to run for state legislative offices in New Jersey, a record number of women legislators are not seeking re-election in their current districts.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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