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Women Empowered by Hillary Clinton's Nomination

Female politicians in Indiana hope more women become inspired to take on leadership roles in government. (whitehouse.gov)
Female politicians in Indiana hope more women become inspired to take on leadership roles in government. (whitehouse.gov)
August 1, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana doesn't have a good track record when it comes to electing women to political office, and advocates hope the Democratic Party’s nomination of Hillary Clinton to run for president will bring a change to the Hoosier State's political makeup.

Indiana ranks 34th in the nation for the percentage of women serving in the legislature. It is one of eight states that never have had a female governor or U.S. senator.

Indiana's four largest cities – Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Evansville and South Bend – have never had female mayors.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson is the only female mayor of a city of 30,000 or more in the state. She says an attitude needs to be adjusted, adding that just recently she was approached by someone needing to fill some jobs.

"He said, 'I'm looking to hire some guys,’” she relates. “’The job pays $13 dollars an hour. It's entry level, no skills, but it really has to be guys because this environment isn't good for women.'"

Women aren't the only under-represented group. Blacks make up more than 9 percent of Indiana's population, but hold 8 percent of the seats in the legislature.

Hispanics make up almost 7 percent of the state's population, but less than 1 percent of the legislature.

Mara Candelaria Reardon in 2006 was the first Latina woman elected in Indiana. She says women often underestimate themselves, and more need to step up because they make great leaders.

"I think that our womanhood isn't threatened by compromise and finding solutions to problems, where I think often times men's manhood is threatened if they're not successful in 'my way or the highway,'” she states. “And I don't think that works for anybody. Look at the stalemates we have going on in Congress right now."

Shelli VanDenburgh is a former state representative in Indiana and is running for office again. She thinks Hillary Clinton's nomination will inspire women.

"My 13-year-old daughter has so much to say about Hillary running and the potential of her becoming president, and she was even asking me, 'Can she be president, Mom, because she's a woman?'” VanDenburgh tells. “You know it's changing the way that younger women think."


Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN