Lower Merion High School's Students Advocating for Gender Equality (SAGE) recently hosted a panel discussion on "Closing the Gender Gap in Leadership" featuring a trio of local female politicians who spoke about their experiences in politics and the unique challenges they have faced in a historically male-dominated field. This topic is particularly timely because of the rise in interest among women running for office in the wake of the last presidential election and the momentum of the #MeToo movement, which has exposed the rampant sexual harassment taking place in government and in many other arenas.
Panelists included State Representative Mary Jo Daley, representing the 148th Legislative District in Montgomery County, who is a strong proponent of women's rights in Pennsylvania; Dr. Mary Ellen Balchunis, who is currently serving her second term on the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee; and Dr. Robin Vann Lynch, a member of the Lower Merion School District Board of Directors and former Chair of the Board.
The discussion, moderated by SAGE sponsor Paula Singer, along with students Molly Kaiser, Kate Harte-McCormick and Julia Rudy, addressed a variety of important political and social issues. Representative Daley and Drs. Balchunis and Vann Lynch discussed their work in politics along with obstacles they faced along the way before addressing topics like how to increase the role of minorities in public office, why it is important for teens to pay attention to politics, and the challenges that go along with keeping discussions civil.
Special thanks to Dr. Vann Lynch, Dr. Balchunis and Representative Daley for participating in this important and timely discussion, along with SAGE member Lily Kemler for organizing the event. SAGE's mission is to promote awareness and advocacy about social justice issues that intersect with gender, such as gender equality, feminism, masculinity, LGBTQ+ issues, race, and sexual violence prevention.