Women Underrepresented in New Jersey Politics Despite Famous Names

New Jersey does not lack for women of historic political significance. The state’s first female governor — Christie Todd Whitman — served two terms in the 1990s and went on to serve in the Bush administration. The late Millicent Fenwick served four terms in the House of Representatives and became a national figure, as did Marge Roukema. But New Jersey hasn’t had a woman in the House of Representatives since 2003. Debbie Walsh, who directs the Center for Women & Politics at Rutgers, says it’s been a long hard road for women in New Jersey.

“It’s been a struggle for women to get elected to office over the years. For many, many years, New Jersey ranked in the bottom 10 in the nation for the percentage of women serving in the state legislature,” Walsh said. “It’s been a bipartisan problem. Women on the Democratic side and the Republican side have really faced resistance at the county level from county leaders.”

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