North Dakota Ranks Low in Female Politicians - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

North Dakota Ranks Low in Female Politicians

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North Dakota usually ranks on top for most categories, but there's at least one where the state is among the lowest. And it's for the amount of women who serve in politics.

During the last legislative session, women made up about 17 percent of those serving. And there's an effort being made to get more women to fill those seats.

"We're half the population, 51 percent in some cases depending on where you are, and if half our population doesn't have a voice, we're missing out just a gigantic fraction of our populations needs," says Renee Stromme.

Women from both parties are hoping to fill more elected positions after the next election.

Erin Oban, who is running for state senate, says it could bring more balance to the Legislature.

"I think that includes a balance in gender and perspective and in age. I think anyone who looks around the North Dakota legislature can see that maybe we could do a little bit more with regards to balance. I include gender in that, I don't think it's a matter of better or worse, just different. Women have different perspectives than men," says Oban.

Stromme says women often need a push to run.

"Research out there shows that women are less likely to see themselves as candidates, even though they have the skills and knowledge base that would make a great candidate. They often wait to be asked," says Stromme.

"I think I fit in that same category. Somebody asked, a few people said I would be good at it and somebody asked again and so I ended up running," says Sen. Nicole Poolman.

Poolman is currently seeking re-election for her second term, and she says she thinks women's voices are heard in the legislature but it could always be better.

"Another major hurdle we need is to get more women in positions of leadership in the legislature and in order to do that we need to have more women running for office," says Poolman.

During the last legislative session, there were eight women serving in the Senate and 16 in the House.

The Women's Network offers training to women who are considering running for office.

 

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