No, this isn’t another “don’t blog for free” treatise, but close. One of the electoral victories for women is that the New Hampshire Senate now has a women majority.
New Hampshire’s state Senate will carve history for the Granite State in January when the legislative body convenes with women in 13 of the 24 seats forming the country’s first female majority.
Women will also factor in key positions of leadership: the Senate is presided over by its president, Sylvia Larson, and president pro-tem, Maggie Hassan, while Martha Fuller Clark continues her role as majority whip.
This is certainly significant as New Hampshire would be the experiment we have been waiting for to see if you do put women in charge if things would end up any differently, specifically in a better place. But one thing has put this experiment in some doubt – pay.
States such as New Hampshire and New Mexico, whose elected officials receive no compensation, tend to have a higher percentage of female representatives, says Ziegler, because the sessions are less time-consuming and the expectations and compensation are such that the people who serve think of themselves as public servants rather than professional politicians.
Ziegler goes on to parallel the New Hampshire and New Mexico legislatures to PTAs because of the no pay and smaller time commitments.
The PTA? Is that a correct parallel? My daughter is in kindergarten and I haven’t been snagged by one of the many committees at her school and based on a very unpopular question I asked at a parent meeting, I doubt I will be. But I don’t see the PTA as something that is not time consuming. Yes, less time consuming than being State Senator, but still pretty darn tough when you’re working and raising a family.
But back to this no pay thing…Would you be an elected official if there wasn’t any pay associated? The debate in freelance circles are “exposure” writers versus “pay-only” writers and then a huge group of writers in the middle. Are there gigs that might “pay for itself” in exposure? Yeah, I think so. Can being a State Senator of New Hampshire pay for itself in exposure? Incoming U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen [video link] is evidence that it can.
The debate occurring on blogs and listservs is whether or not the fact that women are the majority of New Hampshire’s Senate is a direct result of the non-pay AND if this means that being a state senator is less respected than in other states. Of course in my woman-head, I think that it shows more character to be a state senator for no money than to see people wrestle over a seat that pays a lot of money – Not knowing if they are in it for the service or for the pay. Maybe New Hampshire has cultivated a culture that commands respect for service, especially volunteer service.
Loyal readers…Would you run for an office for no pay? Anyone from New Hampshire who can shed a light on this amazing piece of history?