Wanted: More Women in Political Roles

Caroline in the Senate before the session
Caroline in the Senate before the session

Caroline in the Maine State Senate before a session begins

In Maine, 30 percent of State Senators are women. That may sound like a lot, but 51 percent of the state’s overall population is female. Three women legislators with whom I spoke recently would like to see more women in elective office, where decisions are made that affect them directly.

“It’s really important to have women’s experiences and priorities at the table,” said State Senator Cathy Breen, a Democrat who focuses on environmental issues.

Breen is also the lead Democrat on the budget-writing committee. Before taking office in 2014, she served on the Falmouth (Maine) Town Council.

State Senator Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, is currently serving her first term in the legislature. She agrees that women play a vital role in elected office.

“Women can bring forward bills that sometimes men might not think about,” Bellows said, including bills that increase access to health care for women and quality child care.

Talking to Senator Bellows

Caroline with State Senator Shenna Bellows


State Senator Amy Volk, a second-term Republican and mother of four, observed that female legislators try to collaborate as much as possible.

“Because there are fewer of us,” Volk told me in a phone interview, “we’ll bond with the other women more than the men will bond with each other.”

Volk hopes that today’s generation of girls will play a key role in the future. “It’s really important for society to understand the way that women see the world,” she said.

What is Volk’s advice for girls? “Don’t wait to be asked to step up and take a leadership role. You’re just as good at being a leader as a boy can be.”


Photos courtesy of the author