RHINELANDER - At a forum about leadership in local government, participants named characteristics that came to mind when they thought of a leader. Some of the first characteristics mentioned were: white, male, and over 40 years old.
Representatives from the UW-Extension Local Government Center came to Pine Lake Town Hall Monday afternoon to talk about women in government, both why there aren't as many women in government as men, and how that can change.
Jennifer Erickson presented research done by UW-Extension about how to encourage women to run for local elected office.
Nicolet College's Learning in Retirement program and the League of Women Voters of the Northwoods teamed up to bring the presenters to Pine Lake Town Hall Monday.
"The majority of people in local government tend to be older men and I don't think that necessarily fairly represents what the wishes and needs are of the entire county," said co-chair of the curriculum committee for Learning in Retirement.
Steven Schreier is a county board supervisor in Oneida County. Of the 21 supervisors, none are women.
It's a similar story in the state legislature. There are 33 state senators, eight are women. Of the 99 state representatives, 28 are women.
Dawn Rog is currently the only women on Rhinelander's City Council, but when she was first elected that wasn't the case.
"I do feel it is unusual comparing back to 1998 when there were three women on council," said Rog.
Rog says one of the reasons women aren't running is they are busy. Other reasons the UW researchers found were that women were concerned about running against an incumbent or were concerned about criticism, which men were less likely to be fearful of.
But presenters also said without more women running for office, the constituents aren't as equally represented.
"I feel that there is a lot that other women could give that are part of our community and I hope in the future they step up and choose to run," said Rog.