Feminist Friday brings together a large audience for its Women in Politics panel

Sierra Campbell

A large crowd gathered at the Williamson House to hear a panelist of women, career-focused in politics, encourage more women to be involved in the profession.

Emma Getz, a senior human development and family studies major said that this was the largest turnout for their annual Feminist Friday events so far.

There were no seats were left open as Getz, who is also an intern for the Women’s Center, asked the panel a series of questions related to their motivations and hardships of being in politics.

The panelists varied in women from the local and state positions, each with their own unique stories of how they pushed themselves to success. To kick off the discussion Getz asked the panel, “What inspired you to join your career field?”

“I knew that my community deserved a representative that actually cared about them and didn’t just want a title in front of their name,” said state Rep. Emilia Sykes. “I wanted to be involved in health policy but not as an elected official. Now I am actually making the decisions which is way better than asking someone else.”

Sykes an alumna of Kent State and whose parents also served as state representatives for Ohio sat alongside Leah Jones, a regional representative for Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Both panelist encouraged women of color to become more politically engaged and to not let others make decisions for communities they had no relation to.

Out of 535 Congress members, only 107 are women and just 38 of them are women of color.

“Often decision-making bodies are filled mostly with men,” Jones said. “If we aren’t even trying to be at the table or not putting ourselves in positions to be in the room when decisions are being made, the decisions won’t reflect our interests.”

The panel did not come together to argue parties or discuss the current political climate. Their goals were to reach out to someone who may have not thought about a position in government before and shed light on why the field desperately needs more women.

“All of you have very good opinions and your opinions are based on your own personal experiences. The number one thing you can do right now is speak up for yourself. You don’t always have to participate in somebody else’s show,” said Kent Councilwoman Gwen Rosenberg.

Portage County Auditor, Janet Esposito, Judge Alison Breaux and Ashley Nickels, a professor in the political science department, were also apart of the panel.

At the end of the expert discussion, the women were asked how do they stay strong when faced with naysayers.

“I do what I want. I say that to myself and I say it to people who offer unsolicited advice. I do what I want,” Rosenberg replied.

Sierra Campbell is the Women’s and Gender Issues reporter. Contact her at [email protected]