The investigation into Katie Brennan’s rape charge is being run by women legislators, a rare moment in Trenton. And it showed.

After Tuesday’s hearings in Trenton on Katie Brennan’s rape charges, the four senior legislators running the investigation took questions from the press, which is routine.

But one thing was different, perhaps unprecedented for such an important inquiry: All four were women.

“Things have changed,” says Deborah Walsh of the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. “New Jersey used to be ranked near the bottom with Alabama and Mississippi. This is a nice moment.”

New Jersey’s legislature is now 31 percent women, the 13th highest portion in the nation. It’s still lopsided, granted, and the Senate President and Assembly Speaker are both men, as is the governor. No one has dethroned the old boy network.

But the leadership teams of both parties include women now, and their overall numbers are great enough to stack a committee charged with this task with plenty of experienced and respected women. In all 12 of the 15 members of this select committee are women.

And here’s an observation sure to ignite arguments around dinner tables across the state: The female leadership seemed to make a difference. The hearing was efficient, thorough, and unusually free of acrimony. In five hours of testimony and questions, it was impossible to distinguish Democrats from Republicans without checking the nameplates. Interruptions were rare. Brennan was offered time to take two breaks and invited to eat her lunch in a private area normally reserved for legislators.

So, is there a difference in the political style of men and women?

“It’s not a debate, it’s a fact,” says Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, the committee co-chair. “There are exceptions, of course, but I think generally women are more respectful of one another, and much better listeners. That’s been my experience.”

Walsh conducted national surveys on this question for Eagleton and found that women tend to invite a broader range of voices – not just other women, but people of color and those with low incomes. That’s the perception of those in the game, both women and men.

When asked why they got into politics, men tended to talk about their personal goals, while women talk about issues that moved them, she said. “Women run to do something, and men run to be somebody,” she says. “That’s a big motivator …read more

Source:: New Jersey Real-Time News


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Do women govern differently? Look at Trenton this week. | Moran

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