Democrats are making more gains than Republicans when it comes to equal representation between women and men holding elective office, according to data from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
Still, only 39 percent of Democrats in the New Jersey state Legislature are women, which may look good compared with the 28 percent of Republicans, but that number is far below 51 percent of the state’s population and Elizabeth voters could make a change in June.
Angela Alvey-Wimbush and Mrylene Thelot are running for the state legislature to give voters a choice for change in the June 6 Democratic primary election in the 20th legislative district, which includes Elizabeth, Union, Kenilworth, and Roselle.
“It is rare to find two female candidates on a three-person legislative ticket, even though women comprise a fairly large majority of Democratic voters,” said James J. Devine, a former political director at the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, who suggested that Alvey-Wimbush and Thelot have an advantage in the June 6 contest because incumbent state Senator Joseph Cryan is opposed to abortion as a devout Catholic.
“The scandal-plagued incumbent, Cryan said he would outlaw abortion except ‘when pregnancy results from incest, rape or the life of the woman is endangered’ but with Republican extremists banning abortion pills and overturning Roe vs. Wade, Democrats want lawmakers that they can trust to trust women,” said Devine.
“Women make up about 51 percent of the state’s population but just 34 percent of the New Jersey Legislature while only half of those female lawmakers are women of color, but reproductive freedom and the right to choose are inspiring more women to get off the sidelines,” said Devine. “
If Alvey-Wimbush and Thelot are successful in gaining the nomination, they are almost certain to go to Trenton, since a victory in the Democratic primary is tantamount to election in this district.
A 3-term commissioner on the Roselle Board of Education, Alvey-Wimbush spent more than two decades as a classroom teacher. Thelot is a math and science teacher who recently completed her doctorate in Clinical Psychology as well as a US Army veteran who was a field medic in South Korea.
For the first time in history, more than one state has reached or surpassed gender parity in state legislative representation, with both Nevada and Colorado having hit or exceeded the parity point.
Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showed that female political representation accounts for only 33.8% of its member nations.
The United States ranks 106th overall on political gender parity, an aggregate measure of women’s political representation, out of 193 countries.
The “Women’s Power Index,” a new interactive tool that ranks countries on their progress toward gender parity in political participation and visualizes the gender gap in political representation.
The index reveals that the number of female heads of state has surged over the last three decades. Since the end of WWII, sixty-four countries have elected a female head of state, with two-thirds of women ascending to high office during this period elected in the 2000s. Despite these gains, women remain underrepresented at all levels of government.
The index analyzes the proportion of women who serve as heads of state or government, in cabinets, in national legislatures, as candidates for national legislatures, and in local government bodies, and visualizes the gender gap in political representation.
According to data from the Office of Legislative Services, about 70 percent of the 120 senators and members of the Assembly in the Legislature are white, compared to 55 percent of the state’s population is white, according to census figures.
Asian, Latino and Black representatives comprise less of the Legislature than these groups’ representation in the state’s population.
The two most powerful positions — senate president and assembly speaker — are both held by white men, as are most top jobs in the county government and the City of Elizabeth.
Alvey-Wimbush and Thelot-Dupont
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